Published on September 18th, 2023 | by Paul Stuart
NBA 2K24 PS5 Review
Summary: Significantly more playable, accessible, and appealing than NBA 2K23, this is a fantastic basketball title that finally tried to do something different and mainly succeeds.
While NBA 2K23 got a solid nod last season in finally feeling next-gen, expectations – like for Madden 24 – are now for these mainstream sport titles to make stronger yearly leaps on consoles several trips around the sun into their existence.
Unlike Madden which refused to take a long hard look into the mirror, NBA 2K24 (2K24) seemingly heeded its biggest critics in making it a better overall experience, period. While 2K23 was the best 2K in a while, 2K24 is the best basketball game in quite some time.
The first thing truly noticeable about 2K24 is how much smoother everything is both on and off the court. Menus are cleaner, interface and options more organic, and the series finally stopped over-emphasizing presentation in lieu of execution. Someone behind the 2K series finally realized there a giant audience of gaming basketball fans who want to play and enjoy potentially all a 2K title has to offer…except require a bit of a compromise between over-complex and uber simplistic to get there.
Toward this end, the largest improvements are what 2K terms ‘ProPlay,’ solid enhancements to every single aspect of playing actual basketball. Massive upgrades to the shot meter finally allow slightly wider and more realistic shot windows, and the ability to select from a wide array of such meters is fantastic. In tandem, customization of presentation options associated with the shot meter is equally a sight for sore eyes and ears, with the combo a very welcome change from the endless missed shots and no audio/visual variety of years prior. Still, expect online players – already adept at smaller windows and with massively leveled up players due to Virtual Currency (VC) expenditures – to run you off the court. Above the rim, 2K24 did little to fix alley-oops which the computer still does better and more often.
In game, players move better to open spaces, bounce off others in realistic fashion, and contact is a lot more logical (especially into/around screens). The sticky defender problem is also thankfully lessened, making dribble breakdowns an actual possibility sans James Harden or Kyrie Irving with the rock. Meaning, dribbling no longer requires endless stick flicks to beat anyone…but players still often struggle in planting for 3’s and/or off curls (stopping short or sliding, respectively). Finally, there persists an uncomfortable marriage between shot stick and shot button, where certain moves just don’t work well. This becomes glaring when attempting to complete training in either 2KU training or MyCareer skill development.
While passing is a bit improved in 2K24 to empower more fast breaks, too many should be lead passes and/or give-and-go’s get picked. Deflections of any kind remain few and far between, and nary a kick ball to be had. Feeding the post (so many years and counting) can be unintentionally problematic, as post players don’t properly present and/or drift (requiring an extra pass just to create a viable passing lane)…nor do post defenders provide needed rotational help. Related, not enough shot variety (off the rim) remains, significantly reducing put back and rebound possibilities.
In tandem, 2K24 introduces more a simplified version of playcalling, that – with some tweaking – make it a viable option for almost every player skill level. There’s an arguable over-reliance on isolation and cut plays for star players, but – in fairness to 2K – entire coach’s playbooks are fully customizable. I’ve often longed for an old NCAA Basketball standby of pressing L1 for a player cut…which sadly is still missing here. On the flipside, 2K24 coach tweaks now include a new player substitution logic, one that for the most part, gets rotations correct. Kudos as well to the upgraded WNBA mode, which plays like an absolute dream and reflective of real-life counterparts in every way. This is not an extra mode in any way, rather one done with purpose.
General Manager/Team Management modes now include simplified versions, with NBA 2K24 likewise flexing its muscle in Eras (replaying historical decades) to afford more season play types and tweaks. Eras was the arguable highlight in 2K23, and it’s nice to see it better executed a year later. This includes noticeably improved presentation of players and environments from these time periods.
Speaking of presentation, 2K24 is absolutely stunning. Every single aspect of every player (to include WNBA) is picture perfect captured. Crowd chants are improved, commentary upgraded and relevant to an era, attention to detail spectacular. Not a weird hair or jersey pixel ANYWHERE. Very cool continued reflection stadium attendance based on game importance or team popularity. I’m still not a fan of the 2K24 soundtrack, however, a shortcoming I highlighted amongst literally every sport title in the Madden 24 review.
Similarly, while it’s great have more robust badge types for created players, the Scan Your Face option (in the 2K mobile app) remains iffy and barely functional. 2K is yet another offender who needs to stop racially stereotyping every created player to fit a very specific box…or what’s the point in creating an avatar to begin with? Players default to look and sound a very specific way, even with an array of customization. Heck, my player model in Live 19 looked more like me.
MyCareer (story oriented single player mode) still slogs on as in years prior, an endless grind either on the court (via games) or in a massively improved online MyCity (in a much cooler, more alive beach setting). Harkening back to the VC reference earlier, expect a lot of frustration until your player above 90 overall…which seemingly everyone in MyCity is. This same frustration occurs during playing season games, where a low rank player will get exposed by computer AI counterparts (due to poor response time, inaccurate shooting abilities, and related skill shortcomings). Affiliation is a new option in MyCity, which – for heavy online users – can be a neat way to find teammates to run with while providing skill emphasis boosts unique to each of the two teams. MyCareer does need a patch, as walking around arenas or MyCity feels like slogging through mud, and the player tends to drift in sideways directions. This may seem petty, but it gets old fast when you’re trying to navigate. Another patch worthy of consideration is easier jump in/out of MyCity and Seasons. 2K may be avoiding this final nuance due to update/loading issues covered just below.
MyTeam (card building) now sports a salary cap, which 2K indicates part of an emphasis on reducing microtransactions. The same MyTeam modes return from 2K23, which – if this already your thing – will remain as such. If you’re obsessed in collecting every jersey, fashion item, pair of kicks, etc., this may end up costing you a fortune.
A longstanding pet peeve of a game with so many modes remains a poor decision to bi-furcate game updates with content ones. This means almost every log-in requires multiple exits to the Main Menu to apply some live-oriented update applicable to an array of 2K modes. This constant calling home also tends to slow down swapping through modes, a nuance that destroys immersion and discourages mode experimentation.
Last but certainly not least, 2K24 is all about Kobe Bryant. Tons of homage in every mode to the late Black Mamba, with a nicely done Mamba Moments mode allowing players to relive some of Kobe’s greatest games across his career. Great job matching commentary and visuals to these unique parts of his journey.
For any basketball fan – especially those of the WNBA – 2K24 offers so much to enjoy it’s hard to know where to begin. So many parts of 2K23 were improved, while offering needed gameplay, strategy and execution upgrades the series craved. Some challenges remain in AI positioning, decision making, and extensive use of microtransactions for customization, but they’re certainly not as glaring as in years prior. Yes, there’s clearly room for improvement, but this one heck of a launch pad for next year’s version.
Importantly: review scores are not indicative of a player who relies heavily on VC transactions when playing 2K. If heavy MyCity presence, quick leveling up and/or customizations are of extreme importance to you, YMMV.