The NBA 2K23 is the most enthralling sports game in years

The NBA 2K23 is the most enthralling sports game in years ...

NBA 2K23 is without doubt the most ingenious program in video game history. The real question is how much depth it will ever enlarge.

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All I did was launch MyNBA Eras, a new historical mode/franchise simulator hybrid that allows players to rewrite history in ways I didnt anticipate. (They left for Sacramento in 1985), and 2K Sports made sure to state this fact in a series of previews earlier this summer.

I didnt expect much from the offseason league meetings because I haven't played MyNBA that much since the mode was rebuilt two years ago. I overruled ownership vetoes of a 45-second shot clock and a seven-team tournament to determine draft order (nNeither of these were actually proposed in real life) and saw them every year from then on. Rewriting history could go as deep as giving it to Moses Malone.

I could have done all of the things I could have done as the Kings' general manager, but chose to just automate for the enjoyment of seeing how the not-Sacramento Kings looked in 1986. That's what a draft tournament can do for you! Ralph Sampson and Michael Jordan of the Houston Rockets on opening day.

Even Jordan's boyhood idol, Golden State's David Thompson was still in the league, rated 83. MyNBA Eras allows you to start a franchise from the present day (the 2022-23 season) or three historical points (2002-03, 1991-92, or 1983-84). Thompson missed most of the 1983-84 season because he was recovering from addiction, and he died at the age of 29.

This is a level of historical change I'd expect to see in a PC management simulation, not a console game, but certainly not one that includes the Jordan Challenge's museum displaypiece as well as a full WNBA career mode, which is now in its third year, for both individual players and clubs. NBA 2K23 is a mission-to-Mars game.

The enormous following for MyCareer and MyTeam make the games seem to be putting all of their money where their mouth is. However, I have spent a lot of money on my created characters' progression and costuming, particularly considering the simpler, more economical, career modes. And the $99.99 Michael Jordan Edition, which starts players with 100,000 VC.

The City, where your MyCareer player lives and plays street hoops, is a sign that Visual Concepts understands how little of its population may be able to see the rest of the game without some hand-holding. For example, players are given an enormous badge that says, "You can even launch right into it from MyCareer," and there are in-world rewards that follow if you complete 40 of the 45 modes.

The Jordan Challenge is a great choice for anyone looking for a snapshot of Jordans greatest moments in MyNBA Eras. It includes old-school chyrons, CRT and scan-line filters, as well as commentary from one of the narrator's main announcers, NBCs Mike Fratello.

But before you get a sense of how Visual Concepts influenced each of the four Eras, you'll almost get a glimpse of what it's like to work on four separate games. In 1989, Jordan stepped over and completely clothed me with a tangle of arms and legs that I've never seen before.

The main (and present-day) game has changes to shooting, defense, and off-the-ball player behavior that I can see the developers expanding closer in a never-ending quest for authenticity. However, I've yet to receive them, and from what I've heard on social media, there's widespread agreement that shooting will be more difficult this year, even as the game provides new menu options that give players a greater release window.

2K Sports seems to want people to concentrate more on seeing their players animation rather than a meter, and release either the shot stick or the X/Square button when they see him at the top of their jumper. There are four new options, from Very Early to Very Late.

I haven't figured out which ones are really for me yet. Some days I think Im an early person, then Im reverting my shot meter back into late territory, so I switch over to that. Then the shot feedback readout says I have an early or somewhat early release on a midrange jumper that I should nail easily (my MyCareer player, where Im having the most trouble, is a 76 overall) or if Im not focusing properly on my technique. I may simply skip

For reference, I went half a season before I scored three assists in NBA 2K22. It was a breath of fresh air to be standing 15 feet away from the baseline, with my back to the basket, and seeing an AI teammate flash behind me for an easy behind-the-back pass and two points last year.

Although it is fine, I need to spend a bit more time in the games practice mode learning how to wing-off. It's also better to hold down B/Circle while waiting for the AI player to recognize the call (signified by a basketball icon underneath him), and then hitting A/X at the appropriate moment.

The new on-ball defense assists defense in some ways, though it can be confusing at first. If an opponent moves in that direction, theyll be significantly less effective, either blocking their shot or attempting a steal. But combined with a decrease in power on blocks and straight steals, NBA 2K23 emphasizes fundamental on-the-ball defense.

NBA 2K23's energy and appeal, for the first time in a very long time, far outweighs Visual Concepts' unending efforts to make a living. For the same reason, no one can, perhaps, return to MyNBA Eras and rewrite 40 years of history for free.

NBA 2K23 was released on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X on September 9; versions without many of the features reviewed here also were released on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One. These do not affect editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for goods purchased through affiliate links.

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