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NBA 2K19 Review

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In the latest instalment of the widely popular basketball game “NBA 2K”, the developers were trying to win back certain sections of fans who had been driven away by the micro-transaction controversies from last year’s edition of the game, but while there are some issues in the game, this effort of the 2K series is by far one of the strongest in quite some time, and a big step up from last year’s game.

Starting off with the games biggest selling point throughout the build up to release, the MyCareer mode. MyCareer has been one of the staples of NBA 2K and one of the reasons why in the late 2000’s and early 2010’s people started to flock over from NBA Live, EA Sports’ effort to make a basketball game.

In years gone by there have been cameos from NBA players in the game, stories directed by legendary film director and huge New York Knicks fan Spike Lee as well as spots for Creed actor Michael B. Jordan (no, he isn’t related to the same Michael Jordan who made himself famous via Space Jam). However, last year kind of missed the boat with the whole story mode idea, and left fans disappointed and annoyed – but we can blame the no skipping cutscenes and B Fresh…


This year, 2K made the right changes when it came to MyCareer. Titled “The Way Back”, your character AI (probably a homage to the very first NBA 2K cover star Allen Iverson) is in China and has to fight his way to America while competing against not only real life NBA stars, but fictitious ones like his rival Marcus Young. Cameo spots from Anthony Mackie (8 Mile, Captain America, The Avengers), Haley Joel Osmant (The Sixth Sense) and Michael Rapaport (GTA 3, Deep Blue Sea) make the player sit up and take notice of those involved in the game, and the story is written much better than in recent years, it isn’t as cringe as prior instalments and gives you enough to do to keep you coming back for more.

You don’t start in the starting five already, you get to play in the Park and a few new additions to the Neighbourhood give the mode a fresh new feel as opposed to last year. One thing to look out for is the dialogue between your character and the hairdresser in Doc’s Barber Shop, where the game gives a brief nod to the VC controversy last year. I won’t go into too much detail, you’ll have to find out for yourself.


Another thing you notice while playing MyCareer is how much more intelligent the computer is this year. Last year you would see opponents make stupid passes, or miss easy lay ups or even just not bother to make a stop when it was possible where as this year, other teams run smart plays, push your defensive capabilities to the next level and sometimes punish you if you leave your man unmarked for even just a second or two. The realism in 2K19 is there for all to see, from the beautiful graphics, the atmosphere pre-game, mid-game and post game and the AI’s (not the character, the computer) intelligence means games aren’t easy, and makes you work for the W.


Another personal favourite mode of mine is the GM Mode or MyLeague, which may not be as in depth as MyCareer when it comes to cutscenes in GM Mode, but it’s just as fun.

New additions such as player mentorship means you can partner up a veteran with a rookie, so if you took over the Atlanta Hawks you could have Vince Carter mentor and help develop Trae Young, or something similar at another team. The sim engine does seem to have improved this year with random teams making the playoffs unexpectedly a thing of the past, and it does take a bit more skill and knowledge to do a rebuild instead of just handing over a tonne of money to the best free agents and taking it from there.

You could forgive 2K for keeping the look of the game similar when it comes to menu screens, or anything like that but they’ve essentially hit the refresh button on 2K19 and it has made the game so much more enjoyable. Menus are easier to navigate once you get used to where items are and everything just seems a bit more fluid, but despite the positives from other game modes, there is one flaw with the game that is holding it back slightly and leaves a sour taste in the mouth.


The downside

We all know that micro-transactions in video games are here to stay, or at least in sports games. It happens in FIFA, in Madden and even 2K but while fans bemoan the prices they have to pay, these games capitalise on the game modes to rake in the pennies, something that 2K had the opportunity to go into the opposite direction and perhaps get more people to play the game.

While MyTeam has some fun game modes in like Triple Threat and Domination, it isn’t worth the time or money to build a super team, open packs and try to collect everything. Without buying Xbox or PlayStation vouchers and solely building a team and opening packs via gameplay will take ages, and 2K know this. The less VC they hand out during games and game modes, the more likely people are to purchase points and spend them on packs. The whole idea of collecting tokens and cards to get rewards and upgrades players is a good idea and can be quite a fun task, but the fun is taken away when you realise that to get a Diamond Wilt Chamberlain you have to collect a certain amount of cards, something that will be easier to achieve via VC. It’s greedy, but it isn’t surprising and it does bring the game down ever so slightly, despite the improvements from last year.

Still leading the way

You will struggle to find a more well rounded, more polished and beautiful sports game on the market, but while 2K is still perhaps the best sports game you can have in terms of gameplay and graphics, you can’t help but feel that they’ve missed the boat on a few opportunities to expand to another game mode or to win a few fans back after VC issues last year. MyTeam is still a long way off being fun without spending real cash on it (spending real cash on a game wouldn’t be as big a problem if you didn’t already have to spend between £60-£100 on the game itself already) but MyCareer has improved drastically and GM Mode/MyLeague is still as fun as ever.

This is a must have game, a must play game and one to add to your collection…