NBA 2K24 Review: A Game of Talent and Frustration

NBA 2K24 is like that supremely gifted basketball player who continually falls short of securing championship victories season after season. While it excels in delivering an authentic on-court experience and offers incremental improvements to gameplay, it is marred by the presence of microtransactions that permeate many of the game’s popular modes. These in-game purchases aren’t merely optional; they are virtually essential for competing effectively online. This frustration is particularly pronounced in the MyCareer mode, which has undergone several changes but falls short of its potential by placing a heavy emphasis on open-wallet shortcuts rather than rewarding skill and effort.

The Strength of On-Court Gameplay

NBA 2K24 retains its reputation for excellent on-court gameplay, marked by subtle refinements that enhance the overall experience. Notably, the introduction of the ProPLAY feature stands out, allowing the game to translate real NBA footage into in-game animations seamlessly. As a result, the game’s movements, including dribbling, shooting, and passing, feel significantly smoother compared to its predecessors. Immersion-breaking interactions are minimized, creating a more authentic basketball simulation.

This improvement is especially evident when playing teams with superstar players. Icons like LeBron James are faithfully replicated in both appearance and playing style, contributing to a more immersive experience. The enhanced AI ensures that the CPU-controlled opponents effectively utilize the skills of their star players, providing a challenging yet fair gameplay experience. This balance adds depth to the gameplay and enhances the overall enjoyment.

The game’s challenge extends to offensive strategies as well, with traditional tactics like the pick-and-roll being less exploitable. Off-ball defenders display improved intelligence, making informed decisions based on their opponents’ strengths and weaknesses. For instance, a forward with a preference for driving rather than shooting will now be defended accordingly. Additionally, the adrenaline boost feature encourages players to make purposeful moves rather than aimlessly dribbling, enhancing the engagement factor, particularly in online play.

However, not all aspects of on-court gameplay have experienced significant improvements. Fast-break gameplay remains virtually nonexistent, a longstanding issue in the NBA 2K series. This absence diminishes the excitement of turning defense into quick points, a key element of real-life basketball. Occasional questionable decisions by the AI, such as ill-timed timeouts late in games, also persist as minor issues.

A Mixed Bag in Presentation

The game’s presentation, while generally commendable, has its share of disappointments. Players often fail to convincingly celebrate significant moments, such as game-winning shots, resulting in abrupt shifts from excitement to stoicism. These discrepancies become more noticeable due to the game’s realistic player models. While NBA 2K24 excels in creating tense in-game moments, it often falls short in delivering emotional rewards that match the NBA’s ability to create historic moments.

On the commentary front, the game offers a mostly satisfying experience, with notable improvements when playing games set in different eras of the NBA. The halftime crew, featuring Shaq, Ernie, and Kenny, delivers stellar performances. However, the absence of Charles Barkley, who has refused to be part of an NBA 2K game, is a minor disappointment. Despite this omission, the chemistry among the remaining commentators remains strong.

MyCareer: A Grind with a Price

The frustration within NBA 2K24 reaches its peak in the MyCareer mode, where the game strongly encourages in-game purchases. Even with access to 100,000 virtual currency (VC) included in special editions, players find themselves with a created character starting at a modest 75 overall rating after allocating all available VC to attribute upgrades. Progressing further requires a significant time investment, resulting in a slow crawl to an 81 overall rating after roughly 10 hours of play.

What compounds this frustration is the matchmaking system, which places players in the NBA as an up-and-coming starter on a team of their choice. Unfortunately, this frequently pits players against opponents with significantly higher attribute ratings, rendering effective defense and offense nearly impossible. Even in offline play, players quickly discover that competing against those who have invested real money into their created characters is a daunting task. This imbalance becomes increasingly apparent, pushing players toward making additional in-game purchases.

The reliance on microtransactions becomes particularly egregious when considering that most players will purchase the standard edition of NBA 2K24, starting with a meager 60 overall rating. Winning matches offers negligible VC rewards, creating a cycle where players are perpetually stuck with underpowered characters unless they open their wallets.

Badge progression, a mechanic differentiating players in specific contexts, further exacerbates this issue. Badges now have the ability to regress when not actively focused on, discouraging creative gameplay adjustments. This system encourages players to max out their attributes quickly to avoid unfavorable matchups.

The game’s open-world Miami-inspired beachfront, introduced in MyCareer this year, adds density and variety to the mode. Courts, storefronts, and interactions are abundant, making it a potentially enjoyable experience. However, the fun is marred by lopsided matchups and the unavailability of fashion items due to high VC costs. Players often face a dilemma between their character’s appearance and performance.

The absence of a substantial story mode in MyCareer further diminishes the mode’s appeal. Multiple loosely connected storylines surrounding the created player, nicknamed MP, fail to capture player engagement. MP’s low initial rating in comparison to the legendary status attributed to him by others contributes to the mode’s grind-heavy nature.

Other Modes Offer Respite

Despite the MyCareer mode’s frustrations, other aspects of NBA 2K24 provide enjoyable gameplay experiences. The addition of Mamba Moments, celebrating Kobe Bryant’s career, allows players to relive some of the basketball legend’s iconic games. MyNBA also includes a LeBron era, enabling players to control the 2011 Miami Heat’s “Big Three.” These modes offer diverse gameplay options and serve as a welcome respite from the microtransaction-heavy MyCareer.

MyNBA’s depth is particularly appealing, allowing players to customize league options and salary cap nuances. It remains a sanctuary free from in-game purchases, offering a pure basketball experience. The introduction of MyNBA Lite provides a beginner-friendly franchise mode with a focus on drafting, player acquisition, and on-court action, making it an excellent starting point for newcomers.


NBA 2K24 delivers impressive on-court gameplay enhancements and visuals, staying true to its reputation for authenticity. However, the overshadowing influence of microtransactions, particularly in the MyCareer mode, hampers the overall experience. The game’s insistence on pushing in-game purchases and the imbalance it creates detract from what could have been a truly exceptional basketball simulation. While other modes provide enjoyable alternatives, the frustration associated with MyCareer’s grind and monetary pressures looms large. Ultimately, NBA 2K24 falls short of achieving greatness, leaving players to grapple with its inherent challenges and imbalances.

Author Profile

Stevie Flavio
Film Writer


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