Story - 65%
Graphics - 90%
Audio - 80%
Gameplay - 90%
Replayability - 90%
“Hey its 1 for the money…Its 2 for the show…Can’t have K without the King…Its 2K20 yo!”
The NBA 2K series marks 20 years of the franchise and the latest iteration of the series that revolutionized the Basketball video game landscape, fought down the challenge of EA’s NBA Live and continues to the leader in the B-ball sphere of the sports gaming genre. Visual Concepts and 2K Sports have never been content to merely coast from one annual game to the next and have consistently found ways to innovate and maintain the momentum of the series in some form or another.
Presentation has always been top notch in these games, and that doesn’t change in NBA 2K20. Character models are scanned and look as good as ever, especially when glistening with sweat and lit with those arena lights, it remains a breath taking as ever. The main menu looks as slick as ever and sub menus get the job done. 2K beats this year features a wide array of known and new songs from known and up-coming artists courtesy of a collaboration with Steve Stout and United Artists. Additionally the game is set to update post-launch for the first time ever with new music from the next generation of artists which is a new twist, since they’ve previously regularly updated NBA courts, Team Jerseys and players accessories for NBA games for months post-launch to keep the game current between releases. Welcome to the Next indeed 2K.
Every year tweaks are made to different aspects of on court gamplay, some years allowing players to make splash as easily as Steph Curry, some years with more emphasis and tightening on defense and some years encouraging the fundamentals, with varying degrees of additional ratio and percentage tweaks to different shooting, stealing, slashing and assorted gameplay aspects by the Devs some months after release annually. This year the focus is on playing each position and NBA character as the position dictates and playing to the strengths of each individual NBA athlete. Some will require you to play Big Centres as the Bigs that they are tower over small players, cleaning that glass with offensive and defensive Rebounds as well as swatting the ball away with those long wingspans (especially if a player’s blocking attributes are high) and slamming down rim rattling Dunks. Point Guards on the other hands will require patiently assessing the defense and running smart plays to open teammates or using darting past the other team on route to finishing at the basket or running the fast break. This year especially, speed kills as speed has been buffed so that fast players leave other players in the dust and can easily dart around defenders with signature size-ups, footwork or behind the back moves. There’s far more animations this year, like big men leaning off of and balancing on the apparatus holding up the basket after big Dunks and lots of news off ball mechanics at play such as players setting Screens which will trap lesser players like quicksand allowing space for a teammate to shoot from mid range, the three point line or drive toward the basket. Stamina has also been adjusted this year and depletes far quicker than before which can cause problems if someone continuously plays with Turbo and lock-down defense. Gameplay-wise this might be the best and most authentic version yet at launch, which given the high bar gameplay set in previous years (despite some aspects of cheese each year) which is saying something.
This year also marks the debut of the WNBA into the NBA 2K series, which will no doubt please fans of inclusion and maybe encourage some female players to try the game if they were otherwise not already planning to. All 12 WNBA teams consisting of over 140 characters are scanned and include their signature moves and styles. The WNBA (which can be accessed from the WNBA tab on the Play Now section) tempo differs from the games featuring the men’s NBA. There are hardly any, if any, dunks; relying more on layups and a different style of play more like the real WNBA and all but a handful of players are nowhere near as fast as many of the start of the NBA when running and turning on the turbo jets.
‘Where the Lights Are Brightest’ is the title of this year’s returning MyCareer mode. Executive Produced by LeBron James’ and his Springhill Entertainment company, the linear story aims to tackle current social issues as seen through the eyes of four year college standout and NBA prospect named “Che”. You start of as a career college basketball player with tremendous upside coming into conflict with your coach (played by Hollywood star Idris Elba) and with the guidance of your adviser (Rosario Dawson) and some cameos from actors like Jaleel White as well as NBA stars past and present, you will enter the NBA Draft Combine and compete to earn your way onto an NBA Team. The acting and directing are very good (some camera angles leave something to be desired and some lines and past can be a little cheesy at times) but it feels like the story is kind of a chore you have to play through to get to the good stuff. The outcome feels the same no matter what you do and the ending is predetermined. With that being said the resolution to the main conflict of the story falls flat and the issues being advocated and defended by Che never seem to be presented as being anywhere near as important as the story wants them to be, making this a weaker overall story than before despite having a very cool ending.
That is a shame as the great idea of playing College games, going through the NBA Combine and competing in all the drills seems like a great idea for MyCareer, at least in my opinion. Your performance determines your potential position and Virtual Currency (VC) potential earnings in the NBA draft and which teams will express interest and who you can audition for in pre-season scrimmages with the Pros. Play moderately well and you could play potentially be drafted to your team of choice. From there it’s onto your regular grind of season. On average you’ll need excess of 200,000 VC to level up all your MyPlayer attributes via the new MyProgression system making it easier to upgrade aspects of your player that you prefer. The grind is made easier this year due to potential higher VC earnings (unadjusted for in-game difficulty like past years) depending on your final draft position and getting extra VC through getting better Teammate grade ratings, watching and answering questions from NBA 2KTV and more. The grind is still real, but it at least appears slightly less daunting without having to pay hundreds of extra Rands for more VC packages than before. This year sees the introduction of an all-new MyPlayer builder, giving more options to customize and build your MyPlayer to your liking and allowing him to play and prioritize areas of his Basketball performance as you see fit, as well as allowing you to demo your build at its highest potential to see if it suits your purposes. You’ll navigate endorsements with enough fans and highlight plays with the potential of making it to the NBA Hall of Fame with getting enough career milestones or just retiring at any point.
The Neighborhood and The Park return with more events and activities to keep us entertained throughout the year with regular Trivia contests with the chance to win hundreds of Thousands of VC or Beats Nights and weekend Dodge Ball contests, Treasure hunts to earn upgrades and VC multipliers and more. The Neighborhood and Park will also change with the times and get new looks depending on the seasons in real time. A new tier system called MyRep has been implemented this year with less emphasis on your MyPark record and more on your style of play and offering different sets of rewards, perks and animations for leveling up to new tiers. For people with low MyPlayer ratings, or slower internet connections this is better as you’ll likely not dominate the park but with patience and consistent participation can still end up with a decent Rank. Also find a squad and try to dominate the The Rec or the ProAm and earn more VC and becomes a force to be reckoned with on the hardwood.
Servers for NBA 2K20 seem more stable compared to 2K19 as there is very little lag and it’s possible to stay competitive online with the right connection. There is still minor lag which could potentially be bothersome in a game where timing your Right stick to shoot and timing in general are crucial to the whole gameplay mechanics but as long as one is driving toward the paint in MyPark and Play Online a good percentage of your shots from the paint should still land with Green Releases on the shot meter.
MyTeam mode now offers daily incentives for simply accessing the mode as well as prize wheel spins for logging in for a full week with the chance to earn better cards, MyTeam (MT) coins and rewards. New Triple Threat jackpot prizes and wheels are also in store with more limited time events on offer more regularly and locker codes from the 2K Social media channels to keep the mode fresh. MyLeague remains largely unchanged from NBA 2K19 and MyGM 2.0 makes use of new limited daily actions force to prioritize what is needed to keep your NBA Team playing and operating optimally.
NBA 2K20 offers great Basketball gameplay that will reward those with good Basketball IQ and punish those looking to cheese their way through arcade style. MyCareer has been more enjoyable for me this year despite the Executive produced LeBron James story guest starring Idris Elba which I expecting much more from. Based on the improved MyPlayer builder, demo game option and progression and ability to choose all your gameplay badge boosts as well the gameplay on day one this year, I would encourage NBA, Basketball and sports fans to pick up NBA 2K20 when you get a chance if you haven’t done so already.
Reviewed on: PS4
Publisher: 2K Sports
Release Date: 06 September 2019
Likes: Gameplay, MyPlayer builder, presentation, MyCareer gameplay
Dislikes: MyCareer story, minimal changes to MyLeague, Micro transaction heavy