NBA Playgrounds Patch 1.1.3 Review
NBA Playgrounds launched on the Nintendo Switch with a myriad of issues. Loading times were long, resolution was low and online play was completely absent. Using our unique review system, where we give the game a score and also a price which we believe the game is worth, we gave the game a score of 72 and a value of 15 Dollars.
While the game is quite packed with content, we believed that the game is worth less than its MRSP of $19.99 because of these issues, with the idea being that the game is fixed by the time it hits that price point. So let’s find out if the latest update actually changes any of these. If you have yet to learn about NBA Playgrounds, you should check out our review for it.
The most obvious change to the game is its resolution. While the game still runs below 720p in handheld mode and below 1080p in docked mode, it has been greatly improved and the experience is a lot better because of it. Some effects seem to have been reduced though, but overall this results in a much clearer image. Little else can really be said about this other than that the boost is greatly appreciated.
The online mode
The online mode has finally been added to the game and it seems to work. There are two modes available; one mode is standard matchmaking while the other is playing with friends. Playing with friends requires you to enter the same custom code that you can set in the game. This is a bit archaic as you can simply select people on your friends list to play against on other systems. This could be more a fault of the Nintendo Switch Operating System rather than that of the game though.
Playing online is quite fun. The latency could be a bit better though, since some people tend to freeze in place for a moment sometimes. This happened in some of our matches and seems to be strongly dependent on the internet connection of both players. Playing against human opponents was enjoyable, since you will now be faced against players that have human reactions and do human mistakes. Playing against more players is great and will prompt us to play this game more often.
The loading times
The best part about this update however is the greatly reduced loading times, which have been cut to about half. This makes it much easier to engage with the game in shorter and quicker play sessions, especially when on the go. When the loading time of a 3 minute match was about a third of its length, things became quite annoying.
This comes at a cost though as the file size of the game now sits at 9.5 GB, which is 2.1 GB larger than when the game first launched. The developers had previously promised to reduce the file size of the game, but the Nintendo Switch seems to be incapable to reduce file sizes of games post launch at this current time. With the limited space of the Switch, you really are required to get an extra Micro SD card to be able to continue enjoying digital games and their updates.
The game gained some additional enhancements in this patch. Most notable is the score meter, which makes it easier to judge on how long you need to hold the left face button for to shoot into the hoop. The game even explains how it works through the loading screen, which actually addresses one of our criticisms of the game that it explained its mechanics too little.
Another subtle change is that the Rumble of the game has now been finetuned to be a lot smoother. You will now be able to enjoy the game without the fear of your Switch suddenly flying away.
The way stealing a ball works has also been slightly tweaked to take more stamina and it also makes it harder to attempt to steal multiple times in succession. It is still quite unclear to us on how to precisely steal a ball. The game would really benefit from a better tutorial system that explains the advanced techniques present in the game.
The lottery pick meter has also been slightly tweaked; 3 pointers will give zero lottery pick meter now, while dunks and alley-oops gain more in turn. Overall there were some subtle changes to balance that should increase the playability of the game. Fifteen more characters have also been added. However, the new stages, Chicago & Madrid, that are present in other versions of the game are still missing.
In conclusion, the changes in terms of resolution and loading times have greatly improved the use case of the game as a pick up and play sports game. The addition of the online mode makes the game feel complete, which makes it easy for us to value the game at its full price at 19 Dollars 99. These changes however are too little to reconsider its score of 72. If you want to play a nice little sports game on your Switch, you may now find quite the enjoyment in NBA Playgrounds.
(out of 100)
The changes in terms of resolution and loading times have greatly improved the use case of the game as a pick up and play sports game. The addition of the online mode makes the game feel complete. If you want to play a nice little sports game on your Switch, you may now find quite the enjoyment in NBA Playgrounds.
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