NBA 2K18 PS4 Review - Great Basketball With A Price

8
  • Playstation 3
  • Playstation 4
  • Switch
  • Windows
  • Xbox 360
  • Xbox One
  • Sports
2017-09-19
NBA 2K18 Paul George
NBA 2K18 is a great game marred by poor implementation of new features. Its microtransactions drag down a fun experience. NBA 2K18 is available now on PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Switch and PC. 2K Sports/Visual Concepts

NBA 2K18 is a groundbreaking game for this established series. Yet, while it nails the most important gameplay aspects, some new features and a heavy microtransaction grind hold it back in ways we simply can’t ignore.

First, let’s get to the good stuff. If you’re looking for great basketball fundamentals, then NBA 2K18 is for you. In terms of raw gameplay, this is easily 2K’s best version of the sport yet. While there are still some obvious AI glitches that need fixing, the fluidity in animation makes the game feel responsive and fun to play, as long as you’re familiar with the sim style. Presentation and commentary are also as top-notch, as we’ve come to expect.

In terms of overarching mechanics, ball handling on offense and the matchups those situations create have seen substantial improvements. Rather than working from established archetypes, the pros in 2K18 all control the rock differently. There are subtle differences between LeBron and Kyrie, for example, which impact how successful they’ll be for individual shot attempts. Matchups against skilled guards like John Wall feel much more meaningful because you absolutely must design the proper formation to work around him. This change alone helps create final scores that are closer to actual NBA games.

NBA 2K18 Gameplay
The basketball action of 2K18 is the best the series has seen to date. Photo: 2K Sports/Visual Concepts

2K has taken a few big steps to make the game more accessible for new players. More specifically, diagrams on defense show where players should be positioned for maximum coverage. The updated 2KU suite also does a solid job of teaching the mechanics. As someone who has taken a couple years off from the series, I was able to hop in with little fuss and start using all the new features.

However, the actual modes of NBA 2K18 are a bit of a mixed bag. MyGM is augmented with a “story mode” called Next Chapter, and its basic operation replicates the standard franchise modes of the past few years. This time around, text-based cutscenes more visibly illustrate your character’s transition from player to business mastermind. While seeing faces definitely adds more weight to decisions like hires, fires and trades, the lack of voice acting makes the presentation feel wooden and unfinished. In general, it’s a solid foundation for something that’s a great gateway to the fantastic basketball waiting underneath.

Things get significantly more complicated when it comes to MyCareer, Pro-Am and all other modes that take advantage of 2K’s Virtual Currency System. They function within a central social hub called The Neighborhood, which sounds cool on paper, but is actually just a massive mask for menu load times. In fact, the more you use it, the more annoying it becomes. Instead of using a few button presses to buy shoes or get a haircut, now you have to walk to the barber or Foot Locker. You’ll encounter other players along the way, but you have no reason to interact with them. The sandbox may be unlike anything seen in a sports game before, but it feels pointless right now.

NBA 2K18 Neighborhood
The Neighborhood sounds like a cool idea, but it lacks purpose. Photo: 2K Sports/Visual Concepts

On the MyCareer side specifically, the narrative doesn’t hold up to the 2K17 Spike Lee standard, but it's serviceable and fun enough, as long as you don’t mind constant cringe-worthy jokes. The features you want are there as well, including training, badge drills and more. There are even some nice quality of life improvements, like the ability to more easily see badge progress.

The biggest downside of this game, especially MyCareer, is its aggressive use of microtransactions. The overall experience becomes as grindy and terrible as you’ve probably already heard. Now that everything is unified under the VC system, even the smallest of stat upgrades or basic shoes can cost thousands of currency. That’d be fine, except the average game only offers about 600 VC each. 2K is clearly pushing players to purchase VC packs, which simply has to change for any mode beyond MyGM to feel truly enjoyable. You can make progress if you grind, it’s just a very, very steep hill to climb.

NBA 2K18 nails the basketball gameplay but falters almost everywhere else. This is a must-buy if you’re the kind of player who likes franchise mode or a standard season, but we’d suggest waiting for a statement from 2K if MyCareer or MyPark is your planned area of focus. The action is fun and fluid, but the VC grind gets its grubby hands on everything and takes the shine off that noteworthy achievement.

NBA 2K18 is available now on PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 Nintendo Switch and PC.

How do you feel about NBA 2K18 so far? Would you consider picking up this game? Tell us in the comments section!

REVIEW SUMMARY
NBA 2K18
8
NBA 2K18 PS4 Review - Great Basketball With A Price
The action is fun and fluid, but the VC grind gets its grubby hands on everything and takes the shine off that noteworthy achievement.
  • Great basketball mechanics
  • Easy for new players to learn
  • MyGM's story content is a great starting point for the future.
  • The Neighborhood social hub feels empty and pointless
  • Microtransactions ruin what would otherwise be a fun experience
  • MyCareer story is a bit dull
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