When I was ten years old, I remember walking into an arcade and seeing NBA Jam for the first time. This hulking machine just astounded me. The graphics, the sounds, and the ease of gameplay made it to where anyone could go square in the front row ready to pick up and play. The franchise of NBA Jam would eventually morph into Hangtime and evolve into NBA Street. However, over the last decade and a half, the era of the arcade sports titles diminished and the rise of the Sim grew. I became personally indifferent to this genre.
Than NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 happened.
NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 is the perfect game for the lapsed arcade basketball game fan. Developed by Saber Interactive (yes the same Saber Interactive that was responsible for working on Halo: the Master Chief Collection), NBA Playgrounds 2 combines the frenetic and fast gameplay of the original NBA Jam and gives it a modern day polish.
Graphically, the game does a great job of taking modern day NBA players and marrying them to something inspired by the Xbox Avatar art style. Characters look and call to each other during a match, the court side itself has an awesome backdrop of multiple environments (including a personal favorite winter season), and YES – the heads are big.
The bulk of where most players will spend their game time is in “Season Mode”. In what is a very clever move, NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 has players playing through an entire season during which, they earn points to enhance players. And this is where the most unique aspect of the game comes in: NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 marries RPG mechanics and stat grinding directly into the arcade experience.
Playing through the season you’ll find yourself wanting to go one more game and one more season just to get the next big thing. An entire season can usually be finished in a little under 4 hours, and the rewards are absolutely worth it. Players who successfully complete season mode with a respective team unlock a “Legend”. AND YES, this does include the man himself Michael Jordan adorning his signature 23 Bulls Jersey.
However, it’s not ALL fun and games. Playgrounds 2 has an economy system, while not egregious in a sense, has card packs that players can buy with real money. Now, in the scope of this review I didn’t have an opportunity to unlock everything, but what I have played it didn’t feel too egregious. I’d still like consumers and gamers to know that there is potential for abuse here, and any one who might find these sorts of purchases ideologically defunt, should steer clear.
NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 is an excellent game for the person who just wants fun. The game does a great job of stripping away the complexity of the modern day basketball game and styles itself in a veneer that harkens back to the days of quarter munchers. If you are looking for that big fix, it’s definitely worth looking into.
NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 is the perfect game for the lapsed arcade basketball game fan