Overall - 70%
NBA 2K19's on-court disappointments are somewhat remedied by the hugely entertaining off-the-court shenanigans, but a steep learning curve may leave less experienced players a little overwhelmed.
NBA 2K19 is the latest addition in the long-running basketball franchise from 2K Games. Focusing on developing just as much content off the court, NBA 2K19 promises the return of many beloved franchise favorites alongside the debut of new modes and systems. The question is, how does it compare to the rest of the competition?
NBA 2K19 Review
The last time I sunk any serious time into a basketball game, Space Jam was still all the rage. While I’ve dabbled here and there since then, I’ve never really found myself spending any serious time with the sport outside of the first weeks following release. With that said, I was eager to dive into NBA 2K19 and see just how far the franchise has come.
NBA 2K19 boasts one of the most impressive variety of game modes in sports games today. While I personally found myself drawn into the MyCareer Mode, there’s a host of other options that promises endless hours of gameplay. You can run through an 80 year season experience, experience life in the fast lane as an NBA General Manager, create online leagues to play with friends, run through the playoffs, or compete for a $250,000 prize pool with a NBA dream team of your own making.
NBA 2K19 biggest strengths lie with the content found off the court. The robust variety of game modes, cooperative and competitive play, and immersive and rewarding character progression are enticing even for those not big into basketball but when it comes to play on the court, the game feels a little thin at times.
The tutorial does very little to ease players into the game. Opting for a more freeplay approach to a tutorial, the game randomly throws tips at you that seldom work in tandem. A more rigid and linear tutorial would have gone a long way to avoiding hours of frustration learning the basics. While this is something series veterans are unlikely to struggle with, for those more fresh to the NBA 2K titles, it doesn’t do the job.
Spending the vast majority of my time in NBA 2K19 playing the MyCareer Mode, most of my gameplay was with a young upstart with the dedication and passion for the NBA, but with the technique of a G League dropout. I struggled to make any serious impact in my first few games, frustrated at the lack of direction given prior to dumping me in the deep end. However, as my player grew both on and off the court, I found myself improving in similar ways. Clocking up more three in the key violations in my first game than buckets, only to be dunking with the best of them in my last, was a truly satisfying and rewarding experience.
While my interest in the gameplay itself dwindled at times, it was the actions off the court that kept me returning. The MyCareer Mode puts you in control of AI, a talented basketball player struggling to make the big time. There’s plenty of drama, plot twists and a host of wonderful characters that keep the story incredibly engaging for a sports-based title, something the likes of FIFA continue to struggle to pull off.
Once AI finds his feet, he gets the call. The NBA. You hit the big time, right? Well, not quite. After breaking through the prelude, the game explodes into an exciting new mixture of modes and customization. Once AI hits the NBA, it’s a totally different ball game. You can buy new clothes, upgrade your animations, participate in some insanely over-the-top streetball, and 0play pick-up games with players from around the globe. Put simply, there’s no shortage of things to do. Grinding aficionados will find plenty of promise and reward here, but the more casual player may be put off by the ever-present microtransactions.
Between competitive games with other players, you can progress through the single-player experience with your current NBA team and complete public appearances and other PR opportunities setup by your manager. It really is the complete experience.
NBA 2K19’s on-court disappointments are somewhat remedied by the hugely entertaining off-the-court shenanigans, but a steep learning curve may leave less experienced players a little overwhelmed.
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