Review – NBA 2K22

I try to see myself as a hopeless optimist, but with the NBA 2K games, I have to act as a realist. I know Take-Two won’t stop adding a crap ton of microtransactions and annoying amounts of product placement into their flagship sports title. They don’t care about the bad publicity, as there is no competition. With NBA 2K22, I wanted to see how well the game transitioned to a brand new generation of consoles. I wanted to see if the DualSense’s features were going to be used in some way, shape, or form. And yeah, as some kind of morbid curiosity, I wanted to see how far they would go with their product placement. And oh boy, did they…

NBA 2K22 Graphics

Giving credit where credit is due, NBA 2K22 is downright gorgeous, with some superb animations.

Technically speaking, Visual Concepts always knocks it out of the park with their NBA 2K games. Even the Switch ports, as limited as they can be when compared to a beast of a PS5 build, still do a good job, all things considered. The games look great and play great, despite being very newcomer-unfriendly. And that’s no different in NBA 2K22. It looks wonderful, being a massive improvement over what was already gorgeous on a PS4. Everything runs at a silky smooth framerate, and thanks to the PlayStation 5’s SSD capabilities, loading times are nonexistent before matches. They do occur frequently during the MyCareer mode’s “story-focused” sections, as well as the Neighborhood.

It also plays slightly better than its predecessor, with the most noticeable improvement being a revamp on the shooting mechanics. Things feel a bit easier than before. With that being said, the AI is still brutal whenever it has the ball, being as intimidating as ever towards newcomers. The DualSense’s capabilities are used in sparse, yet smart ways: just like in FIFA 21, the R2 trigger becomes harder to press the more tired your player becomes. It’s not a lot, that’s for certain, but considering the kind of game we’re talking about, it’s more than enough. I was impressed the developers even bothered adding it in the first place.

NBA 2K22 Jake from State Farm

I had to ask my American colleagues what the hell State Farm was, just to understand the ridiculous level NBA 2K22’s product placement has reached.

Just like with any other NBA 2K game, if you just want a quick and fun arcade-like sports title to play by yourself or with some friends, then sure, NBA 2K22 has everything you need. But now I have to once again, for the umpteenth year in a row, talk about its aggressive monetization practices which keep ruining its career mode in a quasi-traditional manner. Get ready to either grind for a ton of VC (Virtual Currency) or just outright pay for them with real money in order to properly progress through the story mode in a slightly less lethargic pace. The story itself is already an endurance test, as it revolves around a cocky YouTube star trying to become a serious basketball player despite being arrogant as all hell.

The abusive spending encouragement is not what’s the most annoying in the MyCareer mode, though. The voice acting is as cheesy as ever, with you being unable to actually pick a voice for your created player, resulting in a few moments in which he will utter some expressions and slang that just sound plain wrong and unauthentic if you decide to make a white player. Finally, the product placement has reached new levels of ridiculousness, with the inclusion of an entire sidequest based around the American insurance company State Farm, complete with its spokesperson, Jake, showing up in the game. You can also rock a swagadelic State Farm polo shirt and khaki pants if you’re feeling particularly feisty.

Chicago Bulls Court

If you just want an arcade game, this can suffice. It’s pricey as hell, but it can suffice.

At this point, I don’t even know what else to say. NBA 2K22 is gorgeous and plays better than its predecessors. Visual Concepts does improve upon its predecessors with each new installment, but the cringeworthy story mode, obscene usage of product placement, and the abusive microtransactions are just too much to handle. This is an excellent basketball game once again marred by greed and the lack of a proper competitor, since Playgrounds is now owned by Take-Two as well, and EA just can’t be bothered to revive NBA Live


Graphics: 9.0

A great transition to next-gen consoles, with even more detailed players and animations, all while running at the smoothest of framerates.

Gameplay: 8.5

It uses the DualSense’s features in some smart ways, and a few gameplay elements have been tweaked as well. It’s still brutal towards newcomers, but it’s noticeably better than NBA 2K21.

Sound: 7.0

The soundtrack is even less eclectic than before, but there are good tunes in here. The voice acting in the MyCareer mode is pure cringe, to the point of being entertaining.

Fun Factor: 5.5

What hurts the most about NBA 2K22 is that, in theory, it is an excellent basketball game. Sadly, 2K and Visual Concepts just cannot stop flooding the game with microtransactions, paywalls, cringeworthy product placement, and the lamest career mode the series has seen so far.

Final Verdict: 7.5

NBA 2K22 is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PC, and Switch.

Reviewed on PS5.

A copy of NBA 2K22 was provided by the publisher.