Earlier in the year we put out an article detailing the things that we would like to see in future NBA 2K instalments. These ranged from design, gameplay and presentation elements, and were implementations that we thought would improve the series. With the latest edition, NBA 2K19, well and truly out, we thought it would be best to give our impressions on the newest release in NBA 2K.
MyCareer has the best of both 2K17 and 2K18
One major gripe with NBA 2K18’s MyCareer mode, was that everything felt forced. You had to sit through slogs of unnecessary cutscenes for the game mode’s story, that were cringey and just felt tacked on. You also had to spend a relentless amount of time in the Gatorade training centre, in order to maintain stamina for your games. The addition of the Neighbourhood was welcome but compared to 2K17 there seemed to be a disconnect between the mode’s fun new features, and actually playing games. Now, everything has been streamlined and fitted in perfectly, so you can fluidly go from game to game, team practice, and only every few games do you have to do any Gatorade training to maintain your stamina. You can also skip cutscenes this time, if the ever increasingly corny story is too unbearable for you. The focus seems to be back on actually playing in the NBA, as opposed to everything else.
Gameplay feels a lot sharper
The brilliant thing about video game technology is that it improves every year, and with it the realistic simulations of sporting video games improve too. 2K has always nailed the graphics, but where we felt it had gone missing was far too many forced animations. Too often you’d be dragged into an animation which would lead to a foul, a turnover, a blocked shot, anything to your own detriment. This still happens, but on a much less frequent basis, as the game moves and feels more realistic. A lot of mistakes that the player makes are actually the players fault, and not because the game forced it to happen. It feels more like a real recreation of a game of basketball, natural and not forced in the slightest.
Still no historical game modes
For all that 2K19 gets right, there are still some things it gets very wrong. We spoke about this earlier in the year, but it is a shame that 2K still hasn’t returned to the old game modes featuring historic moments from the NBA. This year, the special edition features LeBron James, who most certainly is an NBA legend with a host of famous moments. His 4th Quarter and OT showing against the Detroit Pistons in 2007 could have been replayed by players, as his legendary comeback from 3-1 down against the Warriors in 2016. NBA 2K11’s game mode featuring Michael Jordan’s legendary moments was forever a fan favourite, it’s just a shame 2K have yet to gone down this same path again, especially now that the last three entries in the series have featured Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’neal and now LeBron.
Microtransactions are still a factor
There’s a disturbing feeling that this won’t go away, such is the direction of modern gaming, but microtransactions are still a major factor in MyCareer. Virtual Currency (VC) is still the way to improve your player, and earning them organically is still far too slow, it’s much more beneficial to splash the cash and get them quick, in order to boost your player’s attributes and get him to an NBA standard. It sucks, but unless you are prepared for a hard, slow grind, this is still the best way to go, especially if you like to use the online MyPark, where no doubt most players you will compete against would have gone down the same route. To remain competitive, you still have to outspend everyone else on VC, even with the attribute caps in place.
Overall NBA 2K19 is a vast improvement over last year’s version. While MyCareer still has its cringey moments, any of that extra stuff can be brushed to the side and you can focus on the heart of the game mode, taking your player to the peak of the NBA. The gameplay feels a lot smoother and sharper, and more of a realistic game then something that is completely random and out of control. While it would be nice to see them add in historical game modes and remove the emphasis on microtransactions, these games are released on a yearly cycle, sometimes major changes are not seen until every 2-3 years. Despite these gripes, the pros outweigh the cons, and 2K is a great game worth investing in if you love the series and you’re a fan of basketball.