A few years ago I wasn’t a fan of basketball or any sport for that matter. This all changed when I visited America in 2017. For some reason, during my visit I felt compelled to see a live sports game. I was visiting multiple cities, but the only game that fit into my schedule was the last game of the season for the Houston Rockets. I won’t bore you with how I fell in love with the game, and to be honest, it would be hard to articulate. I am now hooked on Basketball and watch the majority of The Rocket’s games during the season. I am however almost a complete noob to the NBA 2K series and have only briefly played one of the previous entries on PS4.
Once the hefty download was complete. (Over 30 gigs) The first thing I did was jump into Quick Play. After a surprisingly brief loading screen I was in a game. For those of you who don’t know, NBA 2K presents games as if you were watching one on TV, complete with pregame and halftime shows, fantastic commentary and team entrances. Obviously, I chose to play as the Rockets, and I was surprised to see that Capella and Hardens weird high five ritual was presented exactly how it looks in real life. One of the main reasons I jumped into Quick Play was to see how Westbrook would fit into his new team. If the first game of the season looks anything like the one I played, it’s going to be a rocky start for Houston. They were easily defeated by The Suns. (One of the worst teams in the league) The only thing that was true to a real Rockets game was when I controlled Harden I managed to draw a foul.
Due to my blow-out defeat, I hit 2KU, aka practice mode. The tutorials were overwhelming; the sheer amount of things to memorise would immediately put off any casual player. But players that can master these moves will be rewarded with a game that allows you to pull off almost everything you see in a real NBA match. Including a self alley-oop, which I once tried in real life. A year after watching basketball, I thought I could pull one off on a kids court and ended up breaking both my arms. (Editors Note: Rest assured, we mocked Oliver mercilessly when this happened) There is even a flop button! That will come in handy when playing as Harden.
I believe most people get this game for the My Career mode, so I headed there next. This is where you create a custom character and play through a story. Unfortunately, it started off badly as I couldn’t get the face scan app to work (According to the app reviews, I’m not the only one) I also quickly forgot most of what I had learnt in practice. Surprisingly there are no tutorials in My Career. I feel at this point the developers just assume you have played a previous game in the series.
Even though you create your own character and name him what you want, he is forced to become a rising college basketball star called Che. One of your teammates has a nasty injury in the first game and loses his college scholarship. Because of this Che protests and doesn’t play an important game. This action leads you to believe Che is a mindful person with a strong, conscious voice. But the game does a bad job trying to reinforce this and shortly after, you turn down a sponsorship offer from someone who wants to donate 50% of the revenue to kids in conflict and instead choose to be sponsored by brands like Nike or Adidas. The storyline and dialogue in this mode are atrocious. At one point you randomly have a conversation with your friend on how ‘lit’ Gatorade is.
Thankfully after a couple of hours, the storyline is pretty much over, and you are playing in the NBA. Now it’s just a matter of grinding or spending Virtual Currency to improve your player and become an All-Star. This style of gameplay is totally unappealing to me, and the only reason why I think you would put yourself through it is to level up your custom character before you face online matches. Another big downside to My Career is that it requires a constant online connection, which stops you from being able to play it on the go. Even at home with wifi, if you put the Switch on standby during a game, your connection drops and you are thrown out of the mode. I guess this could be useful if you are doing bad and you want to force quit without any repercussions. (If you quit normally during a My Career match you don’t get the XP)
The mode I had the most fun with was My League, where you can play full seasons with simulation features like trading. If you want an even deeper simulation experience, there is My GM. Here you play as a general manager and have full control over the franchise of your choice. You can do things like set ticket prices, chat with the players to increase moral, hire and fire staff and manage your team’s finances. This mode is played more like a resource management strategy game and playing actual basketball is optional. I wish I didn’t have to mention this, but another great thing about all the modes in My League is that there is no Virtual Currency in sight.
For the first time in the series the WNBA league is playable. Unfortunately, It’s only available in My League or Quick Play, a welcome addition for sure, but it’s disappointing that the WNBA doesn’t have it’s own My Career mode. EA’s NBA Live featured the WNBA first, and in a similarly limited way, so 2K missed their chance to take it’s inclusion to the next level.
The last mode I tried was My Team. This is no doubt the worst mode. It feels like an app store game. Basically, you spend virtual currency on booster packs to create a dream team and can compete in daily challenges. The UI is ugly, and It was hard to tell what was going on. It’s essentially a combination of the only two things I dislike about his game, microtransactions and the assumption that you’ve played previous titles in the franchise.
If you stay away from the few bad game modes and/or microtransactions, NBA 2K20 features the best basketball gameplay you are going to find anywhere. Anyone who owns Switch and loves basketball games should get 2K20, because apart from a lower frame rate and drop in graphics quality compared to the other console versions you are getting the full game that looks, runs and plays great on both docked and handheld mode.