Damn the game if it don’t mean nothin’
This is one of those rare games, a true head turner, one that will make people walking through the room do a doubletake, unsure if what is on the TV is real or a game. Years have passed and our beloved PS4 can pump out some seriously impressive visuals, but none come as close to looking like real life as 2K’s NBA series does.
This is a phenomenally pretty, immersive game. From the squeaks of sneakers to the announcers emulating their broadcast performances, with unbelievable likenesses that make you wonder why other sports titles can’t do it this well, and even details like the referee talking to the players when taking a free throw, or sweat on players’ brows and arms, the presentation is astounding, let down only by some lengthy load times.
Luckily it plays well, too. Obviously erring closer to a simulation than an arcade game, you won’t be able to mash the steal button to try to get the ball back because you have to time it in line with what you’re seeing on-screen. Likewise, you won’t always be able to sprint through the middle of the court and execute NBA Jam-style dunks: this is a more contextual game, with nuance to the movement. It’s like the real sport: rewarding, but difficult, requiring dedication and patience.
Among the standard modes you’d expect from any sports game, MyCareer should be the star. It has some of the best voice acting in any sports title, creating believable characters, from your scatty best friend to your in-over-his-head agent. The story is fun, and has genuine laugh-out-loud moments. You’ll be rated as you play, and this actually teaches you to be a better baller. If you’re not good at shooting, be a playmaker, spot the pass, and get the kudos for that.
Unfortunately, this mode is marred by design that encourages microtransactions. Starting with an average-rated player (60 OVR), the idea is to grow your stats to be the best there is. The problem is that if you’re not willing to use the in-game currency, it will take forever. No joke, this is a horrible grind that removes the fun. The gradual creep towards this direction for the franchise over the last few years feels like it’s come to a head here, with the campaign progress being affected by the publisher’s desire to make more money from the player. Slotting multiple upgrade points into your 60-rated player won’t even raise him to 61: that’s the level of grind we’re talking.
Modes aplenty, customisation up the wazoo, and brilliant action: NBA 2K18 has it all in spades. It’s a shame that the “art” part of the this game has been so negatively affected by the “business” part, because while we still heartily recommend it for the on-thecourt action, it’s hard to give unreserved props to a game that is so shameless about trying to nickel and dime you.
A beautiful, exciting representation of the sport. You’d be hard pushed to find a better, more accurate simulation of basketball on a modern console. Adam Cook
“REWARDING, BUT DIFFICULT, REQUIRING DEDICATION AND PATIENCE.”
FORMAT PS4 ETA OUT NOW PUB 2K SPORTS DEV VISUAL CONCEPTS