NBA 2K19 Review

Draining buckets has never been this good

For years, the NBA 2K franchise has ruled the roost not just as the king of the courts, but also as one of the best sports games in theland. This year, an unexpected challenge from EA’s NBA Live 19 appeared. The question is, does NBA 2K19 continue to dominate the courts?

You better believe it does, although this year it’s a little bit closer than one would have thought.

2K’s commitment to delivering as close to realistic simulation of playing basketball as possible has stood out for years is. Let’s face it, us mere mortals struggle just to shoot a basket in the driveway, let alone have the skills to make it in the NBA. This is our chance to pretend that we’re just as good, if not better than LeBron.

Of course, we’re not, and most of us are better off sticking to fantasy basketball, but still.

That experience is largely untouched, aside from a visual tweak that, at least on Xbox One X with 4K, makes the presentation almost seem like watching a live game. The courts look pristine, the commentary is right up there, the atmosphere is spot on, and the presentation is precise. The players are pretty goddamn impressive too. Sure, there is still that slight ‘plastic’ look up close. But that’s just the giveaway that this is a game, and in general play this is a glorious graphical powerhouse.

Bring it On

As always, MyCareer and MyPlayer are where a lot of balling is to be done. This year you’ll take control of A.I (yeah they’ve completely given up on a name this year), who is stuck in playing ball in China and wants to make it in the NBA at all costs. There are obstacles aplenty, but it’s a fun journey that will even see you meet Haley Joel Osment, of all people. Be warned though, your stats absolutely suck ,and it’s a real slog to improve them. Unless, of course, you give in and make use of Virtual Currency. But more on the VC later.

I’m a big fan of NBA 2K, and have been playing each new addition in the franchise for years. Why am I telling you this? Because it means I’ve got experience with MyCareer over the years, and know what its like to progress and improve stats. I can honestly say that in NBA 2K19, the slog to increase stats this year is harder than ever. I am anti micro-transactions, so you won’t see me pulling out the debit card and loading up on VC. So I progress the way games used to make you, by playing the game. Who would’ve thought, right? This year that grind is looooooooooonnnnnnnngggggggg, and it takes a fair bit of effort to continue. Ultimately, though, it’s rewarding to see your stats improve and your player make traction in the NBA.

Even if you’re struggling with your stats, rest assured that you’ve got a slick team around you. Veteran NBA 2K fans will be at ease with the gameplay, and newcomers will pick it up with practice and learn to rule the courts as well. Play well and you’ll fill your “Takeover” meter, which will boost your whole teams attributes, and provide that kick to get your team over the line and earn the win.

Rule the Courts

I won’t spend too much time on the core gameplay, because it’s going to be familiar for the regulars. After all, 2K aren’t going to completely reinvent the wheel when it comes to controls. It all works pretty well; the shot meter provides a little extra insight into timing your shot when using your analogue stick, and it remains as rewarding as ever to time the perfect shot in heavy coverage and get that satisfying swish.

Of course MyTeam is back. If you’ve no idea what that is, think Ultimate Team from EA’s FIFA. If you’re still puzzled, here’s the down-low; as you play, you’ll earn packs of cards. Opening these will reveal NBA players that you can add to your squad, and use to rule the courts both on and offline. There are challenges to complete along the way which give you more rewards, and the more you put into this mode the more you will get out of it. Just stay away from that damn VC!

As an aside, MyGM and MyLeague are back as well. Although it takes way more patience than I have to give MyGM a serious working over, I know there are the purists out there that will be chomping at the bit to become the GM of their favourite club, and create the perfect roster to dominate all and sundry.

Micro-Problems

Now for the bad. NBA 2K has been let down over the last couple of years by an in-your-face push of microtransactions, we know. Virtual Currency is 2K’s way to turn a $100 game into a several hundred, possibly thousands of dollars game, and it stinks. I’m sick of microtransactions milking every last cent out of gamers, and I know I’m not alone in this. Unfortunately nothing has changed this year, and Virtual Currency is still the primary way of progressing your skills, building your team, and increasing perks.

No doubt 2K are still going to make a fortune from players who buy VC. But I’m going to put it right out there: 2K, we all know what you’re doing with VC. We don’t like it, and it damages the experience of your game. NBA 2K19 remains the best basketball game on the market, but this stops it from being even better than it could be. And next year, NBA Live may just take your crown.

Make no bones about it, I think NBA 2K19 is a force to be reckoned with. It’s the same core NBA 2K that we know and love, and the small tweaks continue to make it a standout. Unfortunately, much of that good work is undone by overbearing promotion of microtransactions, and keep NBA 2K19 from a real slam dunk.

80%
Still the king of the courts
  • Overall

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