NBA 2K23: Review (Part I) • Jordan Challenge

In the early days of myVGBC (back in 2020), one of my first articles was about Michael Jordan being excluded from many of the NBA games I grew up on — which was his own choice. Imagine if LeBron wasn’t in recent NBA 2K games, or Tom Brady wasn’t in the latest Madden, Messi in FIFA. You get the point.

After a three year hiatus (since the year of the bubble, NBA 2K20), I jumped back into the NBA 2K series this year, with NBA 2K23. My main goal in any sports sim game (NBA, Madden, FIFA) is to basically play through a season, franchise, or dynasty type mode with my favorite team. In this case that would be the Miami Heat.

This year’s NBA 2K23 came out a bit early. The regular NBA season hasn’t even begun. The game was released before the NBA preseason kickoff. For this reason, I was not yet ready to begin my virtual season with the greatest team of all-time — the Miami Heat.

A Pre-Preseason Challenge

This year’s NBA 2K game includes a very enticing mode — The Jordan Challenge. Earlier this year, I had the chance to review another 2K game, WWE 2K22. The game featured a Rey Mysterio Showcase, where you got to relive and replay some of Rey’s biggest matches. 

The way the Mysterio Showcase seamlessly switched from gameplay to real historic footage of these matches was breathtaking. I was immediately drawn to the Jordan Challenge due to my memories from playing through the entire Rey Mysterio Showcase in WWE 2K22.

While the Jordan Challenge doesn’t switch between gameplay and historical footage, there are filters overlaid on the gameplay to make it feel like you’re watching these games on an old tube TV (the filters can be set to off, if necessary). The games begin to look clearer and clearer as you travel through time.

NBA 2K23 • Jordan Challenge: The Shot

The Jordan Challenge has been my appetizer to my upcoming season with the Miami Heat, which begins next week. Launching the Jordan Challenge was a beautiful sizzle reel of MJ’s greatest moments, made up of highlights I remember watching over and over again as a kid, but this time they were played out in the NBA 2K23 gameplay engine. As I watched I remembered every shot, dunk, juke, steal, and move.

Spoiled by the G.O.A.T.?

The question now is: Did the Jordan Challenge spoil me? Did it ruin my NBA 2K23 skills?

After playing through the biggest moments in the GOAT’s career (Greatest of All-Time), as the GOAT — sorry LeBron — will I be any good while playing with the young NBA talent of today?

NBA 2K23 • Jordan Challenge: Pistons vs Bulls (Points Objective)

Playing as “His Royal Airness,” I was able to make most of my shots, even when I was a bit off on the shot meter. I could force turnovers and take them down the court for an easy bucket. There were games where I scored well over 80 points, while the rest of the Bulls had none — literally zero points.

Overall, I think there are some good takeaways and bad ones from starting off my NBA 2K23 journey in the Jordan Challenge, playing primarily as Michael Jordan.

The Good, the Bad, and The G.O.A.T.

In many ways the gameplay in the Jordan Challenge is different from playing a regular season game as your favorite team. For one, the Jordan Challenge is objective-based basketball. Each challenge brings with it three objectives: (1) Win the Game, (2) Score [some insane number of] points, and (3) Get [number of] assists and [number of] rebounds. The third objective usually changes from game to game.

*The Shot Challenge: Was the one exception where it wasn’t a full game.
It was only that single shot. You can catch that video in the first section of this write up.

When playing a regular season game in NBA 2K23, you only really have one true objective, that first one: (1) Win the Game — by any means necessary. Sure, there are times when you get caught up in stats and realize you’re close to achieving that double-double with your favorite player, but in the end the win is what really matters.

In the Jordan Challenge, you are playing as Michael Jordan. You are attempting to recreate his story. It’s all about getting MJ open looks. Even taking the shot when you’re not open, because you know there’s still a good chance that it’s going in. In any other game, you are playing as a team. It’s about finding the open man to score some points.

NBA 2K23 • Jordan Challenge: Bulls vs Celtics Gameplay

While winning and scoring a specific number of points were usually the main two objectives, there were times when the third one surprised me in the Jordan Challenge. Rebounding was the toughest objective, because you would have to play defense as MJ. The goal was to cover your man, but also run towards the basket after any shot attempt.

I really enjoyed objectives like, “Hold an opponent to under [a certain amount of] points.” This gave me a chance to play real defense on a specific player, Michael’s rivals. I ended up winning most games by a good chunk of points, winning and points were never the issue — it was usually that third objective. I’ve received at least two stars in each challenge, three in most (stars are achieved by completing each objective).

It’s Almost Time

I know I may begin a bit rusty, thanks to Michael Jordan’s perfect shot meter, when I move onto my Heat season. I’m pretty sure I will soon become familiar with each Heat player’s shot meter. The thing about NBA 2K23 is that it’s not about figuring out the shot meter, it’s about figuring it out for each player. If you let the shot go in the green, you are good to go. The problem is that every player’s green is different. Some players need to hold onto the ball for a longer time, while others need to let it go as soon as possible.

One thing that will help me when playing today’s NBA games, is the absence of the old school, grainy filters. Sure, it looks cool and nostalgic when playing through these classic games, but the game will now be much easier on the eyes. I did find the graininess a bit distracting, at times. However, I still left it on because I enjoyed it more than it bothered me.

I’m excited to finally start playing my season with the Miami Heat in NBA 2K23 and I will return with more of a full gameplay review once I make my way through part of that. What I have played thus far (Jordan Challenge) isn’t enough to fully review the gameplay. I have really enjoyed the Jordan Challenge and I recommend it to anyone who grew up watching Michael Jordan, Jordan highlights, or even the first Space Jam.


NBA 2K23 is out now on PC and consoles (PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo Switch).

myVGBC.com was provided a review code from the publisher.

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