Wednesday, October 31, 2018

"NBA 2K Playgrounds 2" Review

A fast-paced, over-the-top two-on-two basketball game in the tradition of "NBA Jam" meets the card-collecting, fantasy team-building aspects of EA's "Ultimate Team" side modes in "NBA 2K Playgrounds 2."

More freewheeling and accessible than its basketball sim counterpart, the Saber Interactive creation goes far beyond the side mode it could have been to stand alone as a formidable basketball title in its own right.

A colossal swath of current and former players are unlockable, ranging from superstars to obscure benchwarmers. Harvesting points that can be cashed in for card packs to unlock new players is an unending thrill, providing you ample reason to return to the playground. It also helps that the basketball is damn fun.

Online multiplayer is where "NBA 2K Playgrounds 2" really comes into its own, taking on the feel of street ball pickup games, with all four players being controlled by people. This "we've got next" style, king-of-the-court feel is addictive and enthralling, and gives you incentive to not only hone your own skills, but refine your communication and cooperation with your teammate in order to maximize your court time, success and accompanying rewards.

Although the rewards loop is well designed and executed, there is a creeping money-grubbing, pay-to-win mentality that creeps in, feeling more in place in a free-to-play mobile title than a full-figured console release.

That said, "NBA 2K Playgrounds 2" is perfectly enjoyable without spending a penny of extra money. Everything you want can be won with honest, sneaker-squeaking grinding, and the fact that it takes a while to build up to the blind-drop hoopster of your dreams somehow adds to the charm of the hustle rather than detracting from it. Like a real-life game of playground ball, sometimes the going is rough, but the thrills that await you make the struggles well worth it.
Publisher provided review code.