This title was reviewed on PlayStation 4, but is also available on Xbox One and PC.
It’s been awhile since I’ve reviewed a basketball game hasn’t it? After reviewing both of last year’s flagship basketball games, NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19, as well as NBA 2K Playgrounds 2, I’ve taken a break from basketball games. With 2K throwing their hat back in the ring with this year’s NBA 2K20, will we see an improvement since last year and will it have made it worth coming back? Let’s have a look.
Hopefully without sounding like a broken record from last year’s review, 2K20 looks solid enough. While it looks almost exactly the same as the past few installments, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as the game still looks decent. It’s the TV style presentation and stadium design that steals the show, and to quote my brother from last year’s review, ‘The floors look nice’. The character models are also pretty decent, but suffer from clipping issues like previous entries.
After how much I loved 2K19’s MyCareer Prelude, I was excited to see how they’d evolve it in this year’s installment, and man they didn’t disappoint. Everything I loved about the Prelude; the cinematography, the story, the surprising gameplay variety, the celebrity appearances, they’re all here, and they’ve all been improved. For one, the jarring fact that your character was literally named A.I in 2K19 is gone thank god. Perhaps most importantly though, is the fact that this is way more of a full-fledged mode. The fact that they dropped ‘The Prelude’ from the MyCareer mode is no coincidence. While the Prelude was a short but sweet mode leading into the actual career mode, the MyCareer mode this year is almost entirely the same style as last year’s prelude. It also helps that the story is fantastic too, and not just a typical ‘rise to the top of the NBA’ story. Overall, you can tell that a lot of effort went into making this year’s MyCareer mode infinitely better than 2K19’s version, which seems like a prototype in comparison now.
Like the visuals, the gameplay here is almost exactly like last year’s installment, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. For 2K veterans or people who’ve played last year’s entry like me, 2K20 is easy to pick up and play, and even newcomers can grasp the gameplay pretty quickly thanks to the tutorials and clear controller layout options. The gameplay is also just solid in general, and while I preferred NBA Live’s faster paced, I still really enjoyed it once I got back in the hang of it. The problem with the gameplay isn’t its familiarity with its basics, but rather the familiarity with its modes. While the MyCareer mode got a ton of attention this year, it appears that the other modes got neglected. The vast majority of them are present and accounted for, even my favorite the Black Top, but most have been left exactly the same, while some like MyGM have been made worse. MyTeam has seen some improvements and the addition of the WNBA is a nice touch, but sadly there just isn’t a lot new here outside of the story.
Luckily there has been some well-needed improvements to the MyPlayer suite. The visual customization, while still limited, has way more options, especially with hairstyles, which is a well-needed touch. It’s the statistic customization that’s seen an overhaul though, with way more options in regards to your selectable skills and perks, allowing you to make a character that may not look unique visually, but will certainly play unique. Sadly though, MyPlayer, like the rest of the game, is bogged down by microtransactions, as 2K‘s infamous VC is required to apply skillpoints, even if you’ve already earned said skillpoints. I had the Legend Edition to review, which gave me a bunch of VC, which negated my issue with these microtransactions, but even then it’s still a problem, even more so if you just bought the standard edition.
The audio is pretty solid overall. The game’s licensed soundtrack, while not my cup of tea, is great for those who like that kind of music. The sound effects are also pretty authentic, with crowd reactions, dunks, and dribbling all sounding spot on. The commentary also works with the fantastic presentation to create an authentic TV experience. In MyCareer specifically, the voice acting is also top notch, whether it be from a unique character or one of the celebrities. Overall, 2K20 sounds the part.
NBA 2K20 feels like 1 step forward and 1 step back. It looks, sounds, and plays more or less the same as its predecessor, which, depending on your view, is a good or bad thing. While the gameplay is solid on its own, I can see some longtime players getting bored with it. Where the game shines is in its MyCareer mode, which is a massive evolution from last year’s. The MyPlayer suite has also seen an overhaul, although it, and the rest of the game is bogged down by VC as always. Sadly though, besides the inclusion of the WNBA and an improved MyTeam, the rest of the modes have been neglected this year, with them either being the same or worse than last year’s installment. I’d say get this for the MyCareer alone, but the rest of the package is lacking.