New Game Review

Review – NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 (PS4)

An improvement over the last game, if you can ignore the bad progression system...

I did enjoy last year’s NBA Playgrounds, even though I decided to go with the least polished and most troublesome of all ports, the one for the Switch. Hey, at least I got Shaq-Fu for free with this decision and I feel no shame in admitting I liked that dumb game. NBA Playgrounds was a promising game, a nice throwback to the golden days of NBA Jam and NBA Hangtime, which got hindered by a very rushed porting process to the Switch. When NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 got announced, my first thought was, “wait, 2K’s publishing it?” My second thought was to play it on anything but a Switch this time around and hope for the best. Wise choice Leo, wise choice.

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I thought playing against Magic was going to be hard, but thankfully Lonzo was his teammate.

By playing this game on the PS4, I had access to better graphics, anti-aliasing, and 60 frames per second at all times. NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 is by no means a good-looking game, with their super deformed recreations of famous basketball players looking very weird as they did last year, but I didn’t mind that much. It features a great framerate and charisma, and that’s what’s important in an arcade title. This is not really something that should be considered an improvement, though. Bear in mind I played the previous Playgrounds on the Switch, so I don’t think the game’s visuals changed that much from one PS4 iteration to the next. The same can be said about the sound, with the music and the commentaries being largely the same as last year’s game.

It’s time to talk about what has been added this time around. A brand new NBA season mode has been added, in which you control your favorite franchise and play against other teams with your choice of whichever players you have already unlocked from said team, or two lesser players in case you haven’t unlocked enough people. Being a Dallas Mavericks fan, having to play with Barnes and Noel (who’s not even with the Mavs anymore) was rough at first, but I got better with time and started winning more games, largely thanks to the improved gameplay mechanics. Stealing the ball is easier this time around and the addition of an accuracy meter makes scoring points less of a lottery and more of a proper game of skill. Sadly, not everything that has been added in this game can be considered an improvement.

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Life’s a breeze when you have Kyrie.

At the end of the day, Playgrounds 2 is a typical 2K sports game. It is another NBA 2K. You know what that means, right? You guessed it right: this game has microtransactions. While most of the microtransactions in this game garner you cosmetics for your player, not exactly the most egregious practice I’ve seen this year, the progression system has been hampered a lot.

Remember how easy it was to get booster packs and additional players in the first Playgrounds? I found that Playgrounds 2 made the sole fact of getting a single bronze booster pack quite a chore, as you need to collect “Baller Bucks” (did Lavar sponsor this game?) by playing games and leveling up. The cheapest bronze pack goes for 1500 bucks, while the most expensive ones cost a lot more. You can also buy any character you choose right from the get-go. If he’s a legendary player, that’ll be 30 thousand bucks, while other players go for 20 thousand. While I was lucky enough to get Kyrie and Chris Paul in one pack, turning the arcade mode into a somewhat less painful farming tool, I know not everyone will have the same luck as I had. Collecting players in NBA Playgrounds was easy and fun. Collecting players this time around can be quite a nuisance at times.

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I still miss the NBA Jam narrator…

From a technical standpoint, NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 is a very significant improvement over last year’s iteration. It has more modes and it’s actually more fun to play the game. I just can’t deny that the game is a lot grindier this time around, turning what was once a fun and addictive gameplay future (collecting players) into a chore. While the microtransactions are nowhere near as intrusive as in some of the other games released over the past year or so, the sole fact those mechanics got added to a previously MT-free game is a nuisance. This is a very fun game, no doubt about it, and it’s one of the best arcade-styled sports games around, but just be wary that you won’t be catching all of the players that soon.

 

Graphics: 7.0

The game looks and performs much better on the PS4 than it could ever dream of on the Switch. Character models might still be simple, but the framerate is high and the anti-aliasing is at full power.

Gameplay: 8.0

The controls are largely the same, but stealing the ball got a bit easier. The shooting meter always shows up onscreen this time around and that’s a godsend.

Sound: 8.0

While neither the commentaries nor the music are bad, the soundtrack is pretty much the same as last year’s game.

 

Fun Factor: 7.0

Despite the addition of new modes, the increased roster, and the improved gameplay, NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 is marred by a much grindier progression system and the introduction of microtransactions.

Final Verdict: 7.5

NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch.

A copy of NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 was provided by the publisher.

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About Leo Faria

Founder and mastermind behind Way Too Many Games, hailing from the southern swag that is São Paulo, a Sega widower who considers the Dreamcast to be the greatest console ever released, the greatest Guitar Hero and Tetris player you’ll ever meet. My favorite games include Perfect Dark, Banjo-Tooie, the Guitar Hero series, Bioshock Infinite and Star Wars Rogue Squadron II. I also own an Ouya. Never turned it on.

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