The NBA regular season is upon us and what better way to get into the spirit of things than to play a fast paced game of basketball featuring real NBA stars. Published by 2K and developed by Saber Interactive, NBA Playgrounds 2 is the followup to last year’s surprise arcade hit. Featuring 2-on-2 action, over 300 NBA superstarts (past and present), and 100 signature moves, NBA Playgrounds 2 is sure to be a hit with any NBA fan out there.
If you’re thinking to yourself, this kind of looks like NBA Jams from back in the days, you wouldn’t be wrong. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s what NBA Playgrounds 2 draws its inspiration from. Like stated above, this is 2-on-2 street ball where pretty much anything can happen and nothing is off limits. There no such thing as free throws in this game. If you can dish out a hit, you can surely take one as well.
Unlike last year’s game, NBA Playgrounds 2 seems much more refined with much better controls. While the previous game wasn’t bad, I found it very difficult to play and just couldn’t get into it. That’s not the case with this updated title. While it will take a couple games for you to get into the groove of things, it doesn’t take very long before you start making those shots. If you watch the above video, you can see that I struggle a bit in the first game not really knowing when to release my shots, but as time progresses, I eventually figure things out and end up winning my second game.
With that said, NBA Playgrounds 2 throws you right into the thick of things. While there is a tutorial section that teaches you the basic moves, it’s far from ideal. It’s mainly all text based and it would have been better if it were an actual hands on tutorial, which it’s not. Instead, you’re going to have to memorize what the different combination of button presses do and just learn as you go while playing exhibition matches. In my opinion, I would have liked a better tutorial to get you more acclimated.
You’ll also notice you don’t get an entire roster of players at the start of the game. Instead, you have to open up card packs which randomly give you players. If you’re lucky, you might get players you know and if you’re not, it’s a bunch of randoms you aren’t familiar with. There’s definitely a “free-to-play” vibe here even though this is a paid game. Sure you can earn tokens to buy more packs to unlock more players, but it takes a while. That’s probably the only aspect of the game I really dislike.
In terms of everything else though, there’s plenty to do. The game can be played either solo, local multiplayer, or online multiplayer. There’s exhibition mode, which you’ll probably use for practice and leveling, as well as a championship mode which is a worldwide ranked league with multiple competitive solo and co-op ladders. If you’re not a fan of ranked games, there’s also a local season mode where you an take your team through an entire regular season. Lastly, there’s a fun little 3-point shootout mode where you can go head-to-head against an opponent.
NBA Playgrounds 2 is a nice distraction from your typical NBA simulation style game. While those games can be fun, sometimes you just want a good old arcade game where rules don’t matter much and it’s more about fast paced scoring and flare. NBA Playgrounds 2 is definitely fun, though it’s not a game you can really pick up and play right away. It requires a lot of practice to get good at it and the CPU can be pretty punishing. If you can put in the time, I think you’ll find the game quite enjoyable either solo or with friends. Obviously it’ll be much more fun with friends and really how games like this are intended to be played.
Received preview code from developer and/or publisher for coverage purposes.
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