Each year, the NBA 2K franchise dominates the world of sports video games. They're far and away the most popular basketball game on the market, and though Madden may be more popular, it isn't nearly as consistent in terms of positive reviews. It is a juggernaut within the genre that is unmatched.
Most recently, NBA 2K20 arrived and marks the close of a second decade of gaming greatness. As usual, there's a lot to love about this installment. But there are also some clear flaws in this year's version. We're here to dive deep into the game and pick out the best and worst things about it.
10 Worst: The Halftime Show Is Weak
Nearly every aspect of the presentation of NBA 2K20 is top-notch. Their commentary is the best in any sports game, it looks like a televised game, and there are all sorts of things to make it feel realistic. However, their halftime show presentation is one glaring weakness.
Ernie Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal, and Kenny Smith are fun personalities. The issue is that the things they say during these shows feel unimportant and not connected to the highlights. NFL 2K did this better over a decade ago and it's the one area where NBA Live actually outperformed NBA 2K in recent years.
9 Best: It's Gorgeous
Every year, we wonder how NBA 2K could look any better. Then it gets released and we're blown away. This year's version is the best looking one yet. The player renders seem more realistic than ever and you'd be hard-pressed to find a difference between real LeBron James and his video game counterpart.
Everything looks fantastic. The big details like player renders and arenas are obvious but all of the little things work. Tattoos, lighting, hairstyles, accessories, and every detail you could think of was meticulously brought to life. They also added new animations that look sleek.
8 Worst: The AI Is Sometimes Clunky
The CPU in the NBA 2K franchise is always something that can use improvement. These aren't huge issues that destroy gameplay. For the most part, the CPU plays fine. But every once in a while they do something that totally baffles you. It makes you wonder if you put the game on the easiest difficulty.
The opposing point guard might dribble out of bounds with no pressure applied to him. Sometimes they'll go for a layup that is unbelievably slow and easily blocked. Big men who don't know how to shoot will come off a pick and roll for a jumper instead of driving to the basket. These little things matter.
7 Best: Roster Variety
You will simply never find a sports game with a deeper roster than this one. It's insane how many players can be used. You have the current NBA rosters, which would be enough for most games. But NBA 2K goes above and beyond. They include classic teams from all eras, Euroleague squads, and each franchise's All-Time teams.
To top it all off, this year saw the addition of more classic teams like the 2014 San Antonio Spurs and the 2007 Washington Wizards, as well as the All-Decade teams. You can start a MyLeague using the All-Time rosters and a fantasy draft. That means teams could end up with Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant. Jason Kidd and LeBron James. The possibilities are almost endless.
6 Worst: MyPlayer Builder Is Lacking
When you begin to set up your MyPlayer in this year's installment, you can try the MyPlayer Builder. The idea behind it is solid, allowing you to create your own archetype rather than selecting an existing one. That means you can play exactly the way you want to.
On paper, it's a solid plan. In execution, it misses the mark. There are a lot of limits put on it. That makes sense for a realistic gaming experience. However, sometimes folks just want to go nuts with their created player and average 50 points per game. These balancing systems keep some of the craziest things from happening in the game, but that's half the fun sometimes.
5 Best: The WNBA
Finally, we've got the inclusion of the WNBA in the NBA 2K franchise. NBA Live had it but not many people play that series. This wasn't a case of just including them either. Effort was put into this aspect of the game. You can play an entire season as a WNBA team or even use all of them if you want.
The renders are splendid and mostly look like the real life players. There's also plenty of work put in for presentation, with WNBA specific commentators. The gameplay with the ladies is a blast, as there seems to be a feeling of a more wide-open game. A highlight this year and we hope they can more aspects added next time around.
4 Worst: MyGM Mode Is Limited
One of the best things about this franchise is the customizable options in modes like MyGM and MyLeague. The former is a mode that allowed players to take control of a franchise as General Manager and deal with things like player morale and pressure from the owner. It's a lot of fun for those who want to build a winner.
Unfortunately, this year's version of MyGM is probably the worst so far. They added a leaderboard for players all around the world but it doesn't enhance the gaming experience. Some options like custom rosters were removed, taking away a lot of the fun. It proved to a swing and a miss for most gamers.
3 Best: MyCareer Storyline
MyCareer is a mode that you either hate or love. Some players love getting to create their own baller and go through life as an NBA star. Others crave that experience but feel the AI suffers and it drags things down. One thing that usually delivers is the story and this year might be the best.
In the past, stars like Michael B. Jordan and Anthony Mackie lent their voices for this mode. NBA 2K20 features Idris Elba and Rosario Dawson giving great performances. The plot is engaging and incorporates real aspects like the draft combine and the G League in effective ways.
2 Worst: No Improvements To MyLeague
For many players, MyLeague is the best mode in NBA 2K. On the surface, it is your traditional franchise mode in a sports game. But there is an insane amount of customization options. You can create your own custom league with made-up teams, you can be the league commissioner who approves trades and rule changes to truly shape your league.
Each year, this mode is a treat. However, we'd really like to see things added. When the ability to relocate and re-brand your franchise was included, it was awesome. NBA 2K20 has no improvements or additions to the mode. It's still fun, but it ultimately feels like a disappointment.
1 Best: Realistic Gameplay
Despite what we said about clunky AI moments, the gameplay in this game is better than ever. The main reason for that is how realistic this one feels. There are all sorts of new animations that bring the game to life. A small player going against a big player feels the way it should and gives advantages and disadvantages both ways.
The game also did a lot to improve the screen system. Moving without the ball and players coming off of screens is a huge part of the current NBA game, so having that nailed is important for this series. Even with a few flaws, this an area where the game excels on a masterful level.