When the cover athlete is traded before the game comes out, you change the cover…A sports game that reflects reality. If you want to be the best baller on the court, you’re going to have to practice. Yes, I’m talking about practice. Sorry AI.
So, you’ll remember last year when I wrote the NBA 2k17 Review how much I loved the simulation feel of the game. I would argue this year’s game is even more of a simulation. I jumped into the game last year and felt competitive from the get-go. This year, I’m no novice obviously, but playing this game really emphasizes the idea of a team sport. I was primarily a PG last year, so switching it early on to SF has proven to be difficult. I can’t simply run the pick and roll and either find the open man or shoot like I did last year. I have to play in open space and help my teammates get open. A theme I’ve found in nearly every sports game this year is how close it feels to the real deal, and this is no different.
Gameplay is supremely crisp. Once again, each professional player has their own signature style and shot, and that makes the game realistic, but tough. You can’t hold down the shoot button the same amount of time for each player. LeBron James and Kevin Durant have different releases, and it likely takes time to get yourself aclimated to each player. For me, Lonzo Ball, by far, has the weirdest release. Where I see this becoming a big factor is online play. Someone could get adjusted to a lesser ranked team and potentially run through people online, just by knowing the release points better than the competitor.
The big change this year is MyCareer, which frankly didn’t need any tinkering. However, 2k developers made it better! I know, I didn’t think it was possible. It starts with you taking to the Proving Ground to show off your worth in some 3-on-3 action. That leads you to your start in the NBA. And from there, the challenge sets in. You start off as a 60. The lower-tier guys you go against are 75 and up. I was going against players 15 to 30 grades higher than me, and getting blown off the court. Just think though, that’s how nearly everyone likely feels going up against the likes of LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
While training and learning is certainly a testament to the depth of the game, this can most definitely be aggravating for people. At least two of my friends who play the game regularly say they bought VC to improve their player immediately. Can’t say I blame them. I’m 15 games in already and still only a 67. I just got inserted into the starting line-up, meaning I’ll go up against 90’s at some point. Yikes. So, microtransactions are a thing to worry about for those who feel the need to improve immediately and compete in MyPark.
Speaking of MyPark, it’s essentially integrated into MyCareer. Now it’s The Neighborhood. You’re allowed to roam where you want in a mini city-like atmosphere. While you’re doing that, you’ve got other people online roaming around you at the same time. Think The SIMS meets NBA 2k. You aren’t constricted to your apartment with a basketball court. You physically go to the barber to get a haircut. You go to the NBA store to buy merch. You go to the training facility to improve. It’s a nice touch to the MyCareer, which, like I said, set the bar for sports games last year.
Now, here’s my bone to pick. The story in MyCareer is simply not as good as it was last year and is well beneath what Madden put out. The “Orange Juice” connection between your player and Michael B. Jordan last year was phenomenal. I felt a true connection to my character and his relationship with his teammate. This year? They’ve tried to build something similar but it’s severely watered down. And you’re not “activating Orange Juice” at any point where you can switch players either. MyCareer’s infusion with MyPark was clearly the focal point this year, and I think it took away from the story development that sports games sorely need.
MyTeam is similar to Ultimate Team in the EA Madden & NHL series. What I like about this is your ability to start with a superstar level player from the get-go so your team isn’t completely worthless from the start. Madden does this too, but 2 high-level players for a 22-man offense and defense isn’t that impactful. 1 of 5 is a big chunk of your roster. Just ask the Cleveland Cavaliers. MyGM has a new interactive story-mode type of feature as well, which is a nice little improvement to typical GM game-modes that can be quite bland. Then there’s MyLeague which is similar but with more analytics and statistics for your decisions. NBA 2k18 offers something for everyone, and for that basketball fans across the world should be thankful.
I simply can’t rank this higher than last year’s edition of the game. Story mode last year revolutionized the series for me. While this years’ edition is very solid, it’s just not as good. That being said, the improvements to the gameplay and the realism of the game still make this a must-get for sports fans. It’s a deep game that will have you playing for hours on end, but may have you spending more than $59.99 if you want to rank your player up faster to compete online.
+ Gameplay is really solid and creates realistic basketball
+ Deep in every facet, especially in MyCareer
– If you plan on playing online early, you’re going to use microtransactions
– Takes time to improve, and may turn novice gamers away.
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NBA 2K18 was reviewed on an Xbox One. It is also available for Playstation 4.
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