NBA Playgrounds burst onto the scene last year, and it really showed us that wacky party sports games are still insane amounts of fun. Fast forward a year later and we have what seems to be a new franchise with NBA 2K Playgrounds 2. Notice the 2K being added. That’s right folks. 2K games have scooped up this gem and brought it into their fold. The Publisher is best known for their NBA 2K franchise, a realistic basketball sim that emulates the real sport to an almost airy effect.
With 2K’s branding has also comes the other thing that this publisher is also best known for, its microtransactions. These come in the form of packs for acquiring cosmetic items for your bubble head ballers. These packs are purchased using gold bucks which can be purchased with real money or by opening player packs. Each player pack includes 75 of these and the lowest swag pack as they’re called costs 350 gold bucks.
Players can either be bought using in game currency or gained by packs. The price for each player is pretty high so you’re more likely to go the packs route. The player packs are acquired via this in game currency too. In the game its called called baller bucks. It’s a currency that drops from playing the game, but damn does it drop slowly. The grind in this game is tough, really tough. Unlike last years game you’ll be grinding for ages just to get new players, oh and of course it is also possible to just purchase all the players for 10 bucks too, but then what’s the point of the game after that?
This lack of rewarding progression ultimately hurts the game for players who actively want to feel like their time with it is being rewarded. Oh and mind you, at its core this is a vastly better game than last years entry. In every other aspect it sees improvement, but progression made a hard stop at a cliff, shot itself in the foot, dropped a nuke, then skydived into the fireball.
The first release didn’t have the ability to purchase packs, but instead had them drop steadily as you leveled up or completed challenges. This made playing the game more fun, even though it isn’t as robust as this NBA 2K Playgrounds 2.
So why don’t we cover these robust improvements?
NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 added more stages, though I miss some of the old ones (Venice Beach you shall be missed). They also added new balls, players, abilities, animations, and modes.
Like the last game, legend and epic players have character specific special moves. These are activated by performing moves the player is best known for. Example when LeBron James slams on you like it’s nobody’s business. These were and are still one of the highlights of this series, though I do miss the celebrations from the previous game.
Playgrounds 2 also got bolstered to include, a season mode, 3 point shot, exhibition, and online playgrounds championship. The online games I played were perfectly fine with no lag, and the 3 point mode is easily a lot of fun, especially with friends, but my favorite addition is that season mode. Ohhhh… Man do I love me a single player season in a game, and there are 30 reason why that is.
The 30 teams in the NBA can each be played in the season mode, and winning with each team rewards you with a unique player from that team. Frak, if this mode was added to last years game I’d be happy with just that alone. I am definitely gonna win the season with each team, and maybe then I’ll hang up my NBA boots till some random family member challenges and we gotta get real up in this ish… (Clears throat).
Compared to last years game the rooster is much smaller, but that’s likely because 2K plans on releasing special packs to milk the players based, and I’d be really surprised if I was actually wrong about that.
Battle on and off the court
Gameplaywise, the game plays almost identical to its predecessor. You can pass, shove, steal, perform numerous types of shots, and perform tricks. Each player has their own individual stats, and these stats can be improved. Every move on the court grants xp that automatically levels up players. Each player has 4 level stages; bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. Each player starts at bronze and automatically levels to gold through use. Platinum is however earned by completing character specific challenges. These can range from blocking a certain amount of shots in an exhibition match to scoring multiple finger rolls in a season match. This also adds more depth to the game, and will also be a reason I’ll be playing. I can’t see tasks that need completing to get a check mark, and not do them. It’s the 90s gamer in me.
Shout-out to all my SSX 3/ Tony hawk Pro Skater 4 homies who live that 100% life. (These were the best games I’m their respective franchises and never let anyone tell you different.)
Anywho… random tangent aside, the game does look, and run better than NBA Playgrounds. It’s even smaller too. The PC version was significantly smaller at half the size of the original. So basically we got more game, better visuals, more modes, less players, and paid microtransactions.
NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 is a better game that its predecessor in most ways. Better visuals, and modes are appealing, but its huge progression spike and clear focus on microtransactions may ultimately drive players away from this amazing game. I can see the appeal of purchasing all the ‘free’ players for $10 if you’re a casual player, but mind you, you’re paying more for access to something you technically already have.
Priced at 30 dollars, this can be a good purchase depending on what type of player you are, and your interest in Bball or party games. If you don’t mind the massive grind, or microtransactions then get the game, if not approach with caution.
The copy of NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 used for this review was provided by it’s publisher, 2K Games.