NBA 2K23's Jordan Challenge revival is all about authenticity

The mode features 15 key moments from Michael Jordan's career with era-appropriate play styles and aesthetics.

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Kris Holt
August 11, 2022 12:15 PM
A still image from NBA 2K23 Jordan Challenge video game showing Jordan raising the ball up high in one hand as he squares off against an opposing player.
NBA 2K23 Jordan Challenge

In NBA 2K23, 2K Sports is bringing the Jordan Challenge mode from NBA 2K11 back with some serious upgrades. The publisher has revealed more details about the game mode, which features 15 key moments from Michael Jordan’s career. It includes the 1982 NCAA National Championship, the "Flu Game" and (spoiler) Jordan's game-winning shot at the 1998 NBA Finals.

Developer Visual Concepts seems to have gone all out to make the mode (which it rebuilt from scratch) as authentic as possible. “Our team took everything into consideration when constructing this game mode; the arenas, the players, the uniforms, the broadcast, and the play style of the era have been accounted for in an effort to give fans a truly authentic and unique playable Jordan experience,” Visual Concepts VP of NBA development Erick Boenisch said in a statement.

That goes right down to making sure the on-screen graphics were accurate to the era and including filters that try to replicate what it was like to watch these moments (many of which were featured in The Last Dance) on TV in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Each of the challenges has a pre-game interview with someone who was part of that moment, such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dennis Rodman and Phil Jackson. In addition, 2K brought in analyst Mike Fratello to join the commentary team and former Chicago Bulls announcer Ray Clay to make the introductions. Of course, 2K had to make sure The Alan Parsons Project's "Sirius" was part of the soundtrack too.

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Perhaps even more importantly, Visual Concepts sought to match the gameplay to how things were like in the NBA when Jordan was in his pomp. 2K says the mode puts more emphasis on the post and mid-range game and aligning transitions with how they were commonly used in the ‘80s. Certain players, such as Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, have signature play styles and moves (including Johnson's no-look passes). The action should have an extra layer of physicality, with the Detroit Pistons defense in particular trying to muscle Jordan out of taking shots.

The Jordan Challenge mode will be available on all the many versions of NBA 2K23. PC and current-gen console players will likely get the best experience, if the mode's impressive trailer is anything to judge by.

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