I was a day one adopter of the Sega Dreamcast. The system itself was ahead of its time, but that is neither here nor there. During its run, it gave us two iconic sports franchises, NFL 2K and NBA 2K. This year, NBA 2K celebrates its 25th anniversary with NBA 2K25. Just twenty years ago we had NBA games like NBA Live, NBA Street, NCAA Basketball, College Hoops, NBA Shootout, and NBA Inside Drive. Today, only one remains. With the lack of competition, does it hold up?

The good news is, if you’re primarily a single player game, NBA 2K24 is very good. The gameplay this year has taken a step forward thanks to the new ProPLAY, which 2K describes as “groundbreaking new technology that directly translates NBA footage into NBA 2K24 gameplay.” For the most part, this is true. The NBA players in this game resemble their real life counterparts more than ever before. Don’t be surprised if your dad does a second take and quips “I didn’t know there was a game on today.” The players do sometimes feel stiff, but this has been something that has plagued the franchise for years. 

This year the game replaces Jordan moments with Mamba Moments. You can take on seven of Kobe Bryant’s most iconic moments to earn rewards for the MyTEAM and MyCAREER modes. The MyNBA mode got a minor, but welcome upgrade this year as we have been given new eras to choose from. For those unfamiliar, the Eras feature was implemented in NBA 2K23 and allows players to start their MyNBA modes during the Magic/Bird, Jordan, Kobe or Current eras. This year, they added the Lebron era, meaning you can begin your MyNBA journey as Lebron joins the Heat to form a superteam (and get beat by my Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals). 

As for the online modes, MyTEAM and MyCAREER, they are still rather predatory. MyCAREER claims you are a generational prospect (much like Lebron and Wembenyama), yet you start at 65 overall and can barely make a jumper. The game wants you to spend money, and a lot of it. If you want to reach 85 overall, it would cost approximately $50. Once you have your 85 overall build, your next obstacle is actually getting the ball in online games. Unfortunately, the online park modes are dominated by ball-dominated brick layers. If you do manage to get your hands on the ball, you will likely struggle with the shot meter. Even if you’ve perfected your shot in the single player gym, the amount of latency will throw you off. You can get good at the timing, but it still feels inconsistent. 

Overall, the gameplay is good, but the flagship MyTEAM and MyCareer remain a problem. The game would benefit greatly from implementing a truly single player experience for MyCareer or not tying so much content and progression from playing online. However, 2K is in the business of making money. I would have to assume that business is good. 

If you’re planning on playing MyNBA or other single player modes, I would absolutely recommend this game. However, if you’re thinking you’re going to create your MyPlayer, hop online, and dominate, maybe hold off for a sale. Unless you can make this game your full-time job, it might not be for you. 

Another year of stellar gameplay held back by predatory microtransaction practices.

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