If Basketball games are all too serious for your liking, then NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 is certainly worth a look. The 2 on 2 basketball action is more akin to the simplified action of NBA Jam and comes with all manner of antics that would otherwise be illegal during a standard game of Basketball but despite being simple, the game’s biggest crime is a lack of a tutorial. While there are a handful of readable hints, there’s nothing like a hands-on tutorial to drum in the basics.
And it’s the basics that can easily become overlooked if you think too hard. The controls are simple with only a stamina bar limiting passing and shooting with flashy moves, their execution is dictated by the game and dependant on player and opposition location. Rebounds are easily achieved by jumping when the ball is at its highest point – the closer you are to the centre of a circle that is shown beneath the ball, the more likely you are to grab it. The action is fast paced but by paying attention to the simple techniques and not over thinking them, you can easily best this relatively simple game.
There are some tactics to be employed during what is essentially a tic-for-tac game – you have your turn to shoot then we will have ours. Running down the shot clock to score in the last second can mean winning the game by an inch rather than a mile. Then there are power-ups, which are awarded by playing nicely and can really turn the game around with a random buff – resort to violence and the power bar resets to zero.
Playgrounds 2 boils down to a pay-to-play formula, or one that will see you grind for points so that you can unlock players of any worth. Some teams even remain locked until you earn enough credits to hopefully get the right players in purchasable packets of cards – think Ultimate Team. It’s an odd system designed for those that love this generation of ‘loot crates’ and the randomness of building a team. Fine if these unlockable players were purely aesthetic but when your team has terrible stats, learning the art of Playgrounds 2 against a team made up of a Legendary and Epic player sure can be a daunting task.
NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 is a return to the simpler days of sports games where a shoot and pass button were all that were needed. No overcomplicated button combos or fancy flicks of the thumbstick. It’s a great arcade experience that is best enjoyed with friends; otherwise it’s merely a short diversion from your usual gaming habits.