NBA 2K19

A must-buy, so long as you can spell ‘An­te­tok­oun­mpo’

PlayStation Official Magazine (UK) - - CONTENT - @Ben­jiWil­son

EA has dom­i­nated videogame sports for the best (or, in cyn­ics’ eyes, worst) part of two decades – at least where frozen hockey and both kinds of foot­ball are con­cerned. In bas­ket­ball terms, NBA Live has been con­sis­tently out­per­formed by its 2K ri­val, and this year once again sees Vis­ual Con­cepts’ sim score ti­tle hon­ours. Re­al­is­tic on the court and pack­ing myr­iad op­tions off it, it’s an es­sen­tial buy for the hoops com­ple­tion­ist.

Still, what of the ca­sual fan or bas­ket­ball diehard who wants more than a ros­ter up­date? Both types of sup­porter are catered for, though it’s tougher to rec­om­mend this over pick­ing 2K18 up on the cheap. Take MyLeague and MyGM, the two ver­sions of NBA’s deep fran­chise mode. Changes in­clude the op­tion to as­sign older play­ers to men­tor younger prospects, and slid­ers to ad­just con­tract val­ues and draft pick de­pre­ci­a­tion. If that has you blink­ing at this page in a fog of ‘WTF?!’, it’s likely you’ll be fine with last year’s of­fer­ing.

On court the ba­sics feel near-iden­ti­cal. Shoot­ing, for in­stance, can be done by tap­ping a but­ton or us­ing the right stick, and 2K19’s pick-up-and-play value is strong. Yet there are nu­ances, too, for series vet­er­ans, such as the archetype sys­tem, which en­ables in­di­vid­u­als to ‘Takeover’ a match for a lim­ited pe­riod. A play­maker gets a brief shoot­ing up­grade, a post-scorer re­ceives boosted hooks, fades, and shim­mies, and slash­ers be­come tem­po­rar­ily bet­ter at eu­ros and hot steps. It can feel a touch ar­cadey – al­most a throw­back to NBA Jam’s ‘He’s on fire!’ era – but these surges of in­di­vid­ual bril­liance do oc­cur in real life, and some at­tempt to mimic them is neat.


The mode Vis­ual Con­cepts trum­pets an­nu­ally is MyCa­reer, where you steer a cre­ated char­ac­ter to glory. For 2K19 it’s ti­tled The Way Back, and tips off in China af­ter your on­screen al­ter-ego goes un­drafted in the NBA. Even­tu­ally he re­bounds to the US pro game, with mixed re­sults: the wealth of ways to cus­tomise your char­ac­ter are wel­come, and ac­tiv­i­ties like dodge­ball and tram­po­line bas­ket­ball make great ad­di­tions to the ‘Neigh­bour­hood’ hub. But many of those cus­tomi­sa­tion op­tions – and, worse, stats up­grades – re­quire you to drop money on vir­tual cur­rency, edg­ing 2K19 into ‘play-to-win’ ter­ri­tory.

Even so, there are el­e­ments 2K19’s con­tem­po­raries can learn from. Start­ing MyGM as an ex­pan­sion team is su­perb, and a fea­ture Mad­den needs in or­der to trans­form digi­tised NFL. Black­top bas­ket­ball on in­ner-city courts show­cases how great a FIFA Street spinoff would be. And the op­tion to play as his­toric teams such as Michael Jor­dan’s ’92-’93 Bulls makes ev­ery ex­hi­bi­tion match mat­ter, and is some­thing all sports games should bor­row. Mi­cro­trans­ac­tions hold it back from a big­ger score, but 2K19 is still an ex­cep­tional baller.


Clas­sic teams al­low you to throw to­gether dream match-ups like Chicago ’92-’93 vs Mem­phis ’05-’06.


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