A year and a half after the release of the first chapter, Saber Interactive throws us into a renewed version of its fun arcade game dedicated to NBA champions of today and yesterday. In a riot of dunks, alley-oops and hard contrasts, and in defiance of the most elementary laws of physics, NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 sends back fans of the ball in wedges to the center of the field for a duo with a very different flavor than the usual NBA 2K titles. As some will recall, the release of this new chapter has been postponed at the last moment, from the spring period to the autumn window, precisely by virtue of the new collaboration agreement signed between the American developers and the subsidiary label of Take Two, made official the last July. Will Saber Interactive be able to improve the potential of the previous episode? Let's find out in our review.
Exactly as we wrote in the review of the first chapter, setting foot on the fields of NBA Playgrounds could not fail to bring to mind the countless gaming sessions spent on great arcade classics such as NBA Jam e NBA Street. With NBA 2K Playgrounds 2, Saber Interactive has done nothing but extend the amount of content offered to players, providing ten new playing fields on which to perform and an initial doubled roster, now made up of as many as 300 basketball players from various eras. Legends include players who have made the history of the game, people of the caliber of "His Airness", Oscar Robertson, Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and Magic Jonhson, alongside the various LBJs, Curry, Harden and Durant who ignite the contemporary crowds. We also report the presence of new ones special moves and various cosmetic customizations for your team members. As those who have been able to put their hand to the previous chapter will remember, Playgrounds is a game without many frills, but despite appearances it requires you to apply yourself to master all the possible attack options properly, especially if you want to try to baste alley-oop combined, or perhaps ringing feints and counter-feints and then perform a backward fadeaway shot. This is all the more true for those who - like myself - have now settled game times and shooting and contrast mechanics of an NBA 2K19 or previous iterations. It takes a moment to orient yourself, but once you have taken your measurements, the show is guaranteed.
The management of the game takes care of adding extra spice to each game stamina, to be treated especially during the delusional defensive phases. And then there are the already known random power-ups that can be activated several times during the match, such as the dunk points multiplier or the ice fixed on your basket to prevent opponents from hitting for three possessions. If exploited properly, these factors can lead to real reversals in the score, often leaving the result in the balance until the final moments. But on the pitches of NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 you can also play dirty, literally slap your own scorer in the offensive phase, or vice versa make fun of the opponent by treacherously pushing him from behind to steal the ball without much compliments. No, no referee will bother to blow a nice flagrant here, you can rest easy. Even during the dunks it is possible to intervene just enough to prevent the opponent from violating the basket, to then conquer the rebound with agility and start quickly on the counterattack. Among the selectable game modes it is now possible to lean towards the season complete, which plans to qualify for the playoffs and reach with great fanfare NBA Finals. Alternatively, it is possible to lean towards the fun contest of the three-point shooting, where regularity in the management of the shot becomes crucial to take home the victory. Thanks to the presence of four difficulty levels, selectable during offline battles, the level of challenge is certainly not lacking, but the most competitive can still throw themselves headlong into the frenetic match online 1 against 1. Alternatively, you can opt for the equally fun cooperative mode alongside a friend. The other winning point of NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 undoubtedly concerns the nice caricature reproduction of the champions brought onto the field, which is supported by a simple but colorful graphic frame and music well contextualized with the environments of NBA basketball, albeit a little too repetitive.
If the review of NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 stopped here, the vote present at the bottom of the piece would certainly be higher. Unfortunately, the introduction of the microtransactions ends up debasing the nature of the product. On the other hand, in recent years 2K has continued to follow the path of monetization, despite the strong discontent generated in the community more passionate, so the choice does not surprise us. Nonetheless, in an arcade context such as the one put back into play by Saber Interactive, it is clear that buying player packs in exchange for real money appears to be a far from optimal solution, especially if this approach negatively affects time. required to access all players in the roster through normal game progression. In short, unlike what happened in NBA Playgrounds, where the players' stickers could only be obtained by accumulating experience points and increasing your personal level, this time you have to deal with a reality that is diametrically opposed.
NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 therefore offers two different types of currency. On the one hand i Baller Bucks, forfeit by participating in both offline and online gaming competitions; on the other i Golden Bucks, which derive only in a minimal percentage from the results obtained in the field and are mostly linked to the purchase of packages in exchange for hard cash. Basically, the criterion embraced by Saber is the same one used for some time in the other titles related to the NBA 2K brand. Leaving aside for a moment the long-standing criticism of the presence of microtransactions in a product not offered in free-to-play, in the specific case their presence determines an unpleasant imbalance of the game balance. Just consider that you need at least 5000 Baller Bucks to take home a gold package with the most famous players. A figure that, to be obtained, requires you to win several games. If we add to this that the presence of duplicates - already frequent in the early stages - tends to become more and more assiduous with the expansion of the roster, trying to win the most famous players in a reasonable time is definitely out of the question. Here then is that the simplest viaticum, in the eyes of the less discerning user (or the less patient one) will be to invest real money to immediately access all the stickers currently made available by the developers.
With more content and further refined gameplay than the previous incarnation, NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 manages to entertain and entertain, especially when lived in close contact with your friends. Unfortunately, the overall evaluation cannot ignore the questionable presence of microtransactions, whose invasiveness is unjustified in light of the intrinsic characteristics of the game. Really a shame.
- Fun to enjoy
- More than 300 players of today and yesterday
- New special moves and modes
- Microtransactions undermine progression
- Shooting mechanics can still be improved
- Missing the dunk competition