THE BEST NBA 2K OF ALL TIME!
NBA 2K is without a doubt the best basketball video game franchise, having made its debut with NBA 2K and immediately posing a threat to the then-dominant NBA Live from EA Sports. Over time, 2K defeated Live so frequently that EA had to cancel games and restart their series.
It’s interesting to reflect on the peaks of NBA 2K after more than two decades of entries. These games received the highest ratings in the franchise’s history based on Metacritic reviews because they are the top-rated NBA 2K games.
Updated on September 11, 2022, by Kevin Pantoja: NBA 2K23’s latest release has contributed yet another chapter to the illustrious history of this sports video game franchise. It quickly rose to prominence and is now the most popular basketball game available, having launched with the first entry. When you look at the NBA 2K games ranked, it’s interesting to see how the most recent game compares. The best way to identify the top of the bunch is to look at their Metacritic scores.
NBA 2K19 (2018) - 83
When a video game series has been around for so long, it is inevitable that it would occasionally fall into the sameness and even staleness traps. That’s kind of what occurred with NBA 2K19; while it received positive reviews, it fell short when compared to several other recent releases. The most of the game’s previous accomplishments were still present, but by this stage, it was primarily what players had grown to expect and recognize. Even though it didn’t occur, it required something to revitalize things. They need to turn things around with 2K23 after their scores declined with 2K20, 2K21, and 2K22.
NBA 2K9 (2008) - 84
It was very evident by this point that the NBA 2K series was far superior to NBA Live. The EA Sports game from 2009 was good, but NBA 2K9 merely kept building on its already outstanding legacy. The cover of this edition featured NBA Champion Kevin Garnett. The experience’s realism was mostly responsible for the favorable response. The HD visuals were unquestionably the best up to that point, and halftime shows and commentary were excellent in addition to the gameplay being on par. The fact that it didn’t add many new modes was the only drawback.
NBA 2K7 (2006) - 84
The player models and animations in NBA 2K7 fell short, which was one of the complaints that players had, therefore the improved graphics in NBA 2K9 were a welcome improvement. Although there was an apparent issue with that, the game excelled in practically every other aspect. Again, the gameplay was popular, but it also featured popular features like Association mode and Street mode. On the PlayStation 3, a neat but minor addition allowed players to simulate the motion of making a shot by shooting free throws. This book’s athlete on the cover was Shaquille O’Neal.
NBA 2K6 (2005) - 84
Shaq was featured on the cover of NBA 2K7 for the second year in a row, having first appeared there in NBA 2K6. At the time, he and Allen Iverson were the only players to receive multiple solo covers. The praise for components like the soundtrack, presentation, and gameplay was very strong. On the other hand, there were some problems with some of the controls, and because not much was added to enhance or build upon it, it felt somewhat similar to the previous entry. Even though it might not seem like a big deal, the menu design received harsh criticism, with some even labeling it ugly.
NBA 2K10 (2009) - 85
It might be claimed that Kobe Bryant, who appeared on the cover of NBA 2K10, is the greatest athlete to ever appear in one of these games. For one crucial reason, this was actually a highly significant installment in the series. It was the game that introduced the MyPlayer feature, which is still popular over ten years later. Even though the mode needed some development, it was nonetheless a welcomed addition to the franchise. Doris Burke, a sideline reporter, and the Summer League were also welcome additions. Unfortunately, there were a few technical issues with the game, especially when it first came out.
ESPN NBA 2K5 (2004) - 85
Before ESPN NBA 2K5, ESPN NBA Basketball significantly increased the series’ ESPN license. The fact that this was SEGA’s last NBA game before selling the firm made it a historic entry. The ESPN presentation may have been the star of the show, but it ended with this episode. Ben Wallace was the first player outside Allen Iverson to appear on the game’s cover. This included modes like 24/7 and Association, but opinions on both were divided. Even so, the gameplay was fantastic, and the $20 price tag made it a fantastic value.
NBA 2K15 (2014) - 87
As NBA 2K continued to add new features to keep things interesting and spice up an already fantastic game, the middle of the 2010s was in many ways the franchise’s golden age. They improved MyCareer more than ever with NBA 2K15 and included a coaching advise function. The addition of a scanning system also gave a substantial boost. This gave players the option to scan their own faces and import them into the game, making the NBA player they created look exactly like them and giving the career mode a more realistic feel.
NBA 2K16 (2015) - 87
After NBA 2K15’s success, 2K Sports sought to lift the ante once more, and they largely succeeded. NBA 2K16 received overwhelmingly positive reviews and has the legendary Stephen Curry on the cover. This time around, the coolest new feature was the ability to move a team while playing MyGM or MyLeague. Because of this, players may revive well-known franchises like the Seattle SuperSonics and be extremely inventive in their game play.
NBA 2K14 (2013) - 87
All of the scores for NBA 2K14 through 2K16 were the same, demonstrating the franchise’s consistency. Euroleague teams, the LeBron James: Path to Greatness mode, and a fantastic soundtrack were all introduced in 2K14. James contributed more to the cover than just a simple photo. In order to make the game feel as authentic as possible, he also worked as a producer on the game and helped choose the soundtrack. Reviews for each of these elements and more were positive.
NBA 2K18 (2017) - 87
NBA 2K18 is the fourth game that is tied with an 87 rating. It earns a slot on its own since the Nintendo Switch gave it the lowest score of any platform, a 74, which is greater than the lowest score of any of the preceding titles. Kyrie Irving is featured on the cover of this installment. Because 2K was in the position of “if it ain’t broke, don’t repair it,” the game had modest alterations. Nevertheless, exciting additions like Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant as guest analysts and more historic teams were made. The inclusion of All-Time Teams, which assembled teams of each franchise’s greatest players, was the genuine coup.
NBA 2K23 (2022) - 88
Reviews for the most recent installment of the NBA 2K series, NBA 2K23, are still coming in, so this rating may change soon. However, it appears that several of the more recent entries, which had reviews that were below average for the series, have recently turned around. The City has received praise for being an extremely immersive experience. The MyNBA mode, which lets players control the league during various eras, is the game’s main draw. You can rewrite history and discover what would have occurred if Michael Jordan had been selected by Portland or if the 2003 Draft had been conducted differently.
NBA 2K3 (2002) - 89
At 89, there are three tied games. The first game is NBA 2K3, which dates back to the beginning of the series. They had a strong start and continued to use many of the gameplay mechanics that had earned them favorable reviews up to this time. Allen Iverson continued to serve as the cover athlete. Despite significant changes, many things remained the same. Franchise mode, for example, has been revamped to be more detailed than ever, but the presentation has seen the biggest alteration. With the partnership with ESPN that began with NBA 2K3, the game seemed more authentic than ever.
ESPN NBA Basketball (2003) - 89
ESPN NBA Basketball, which would have essentially been NBA 2K4 had it not been for the 2K logo, was the only game in the whole franchise without the 2K logo. This presentation really embraced the ESPN component and had Iverson on the cover for the final time. This was the sixth and final chapter to be released prior to the establishment of 2K Sports. Every player had a different facial design on ESPN NBA Basketball, the passing mechanism was upgraded, the 24/7 mode was emphasized, and there were numerous streetball elements. Gameplay, aesthetics, and presentation received high marks.
NBA 2K11 (2010) - 89
A turning moment for the games was NBA 2K11. Although none received unfavorable reviews, they did begin to stall as the 2000s came to a close. There are several reasons why this entry was an improvement. The addition of cover athlete Michael Jordan, who hadn’t played in a game in a while, was the most thrilling. The Jordan Challenge feature, which allowed players to reenact some of his most memorable moments, received rave reviews. A lot of other former teams and players were also included in that mode. It’s a winner if you add a solid soundtrack and features like the D-League in Association mode.
NBA 2K12 (2011) - 90
How did 2K Sports improve upon NBA 2K11’s greatness? They improved upon what was already effective. Jordan was joined on the cover by Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, showing that the series was focusing heavily on vintage squads and paying tribute to the greats of the past. Considering how much more realistic it felt compared to earlier games, many reviewers thought it was the best basketball simulation in history. The MyPlayer feature received a significant improvement, which helped it become one of the most well-liked modes in any sports game. Since rookies weren’t initially included because of the NBA lockout that year, the usage of updated rosters was appreciated.
NBA 2K13 (2012) - 90
As three games scored 90, there are more ties. NBA 2K13 maintained the momentum from the previous two games in the series, which once again showed its strength. This time, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, and Blake Griffin are featured on the cover as the emphasis shifts from the past to the future. Despite this, the game continued to improve the iconic teams, including the brilliant choice to include the United States Olympic teams from 1992 and 2012. As a producer, Jay-Z contributed to the album’s distinctive atmosphere. A Shoe Creator mode with authentic name brands and an All-Star Weekend mode were also included in the game.
NBA 2K17 (2016) - 90
As previously mentioned, NBA 2K16 received a lot of accolades for its MyLeague option, which let players move franchises around. That was advanced to a new level in NBA 2K17. This time, additional teams could be introduced in addition to moving all 30 of the current teams. A person may theoretically establish their own fully original league with their own teams, towns, and other features. They also had power over the league’s rules and could alter them, which was unheard of. Additionally, there was a lot of appreciation for the presentation, gameplay, and other standard features. Paul George, a star player, appeared on the cover.
NBA 2K1 (2000) - 93
The fact that the series’ two highest-rated games ever debuted so early in its lifespan is kind of bizarre. Even if these games didn’t have nearly as many adjustable settings or in-depth features as later games did, it just goes to show that they contributed to changing things. Although the first NBA 2K received favorable reviews, NBA 2K1 raised the bar. The gameplay was enhanced, and it introduced online multiplayer for the first time. Additionally, it added well-known streetball courts like Rucker Park for people to enjoy if they wanted an alternative to conventional arenas.
NBA 2K2 (2001) - 93
Since Sega created this series, it was first limited to the Dreamcast. That changed when NBA 2K2 was released because it was made available on more platforms, including PlayStation 2, Xbox, and Gamecube. The series benefited greatly from that choice. This entry was significant since it was the first to add actual player abilities, meaning that for some players, shooting at the appropriate spot on the court mattered. In later installments, it would help give things like player personalities birth. Additionally, this game improved the defensive component, added legends, and added modes.