Last year’s excellent NBA 2K 17 we found ourselves quite conflicted with NBA 2K 18. Visual Concepts has been delivering exceptional basketball games in recent years, an experience has been nothing short of extraordinary in fact that dominance became so prevailing that they literally knocked out EA’s NBA Live series out of relevance although they launched a new entry in the series recently after two long years.
NBA 2K 18 visual concepts have made a number of changes which don’t quite gel with the overall product as the game fails to reach the great heights achieved by spent at predecessor. NBA 2K 18 is not a bad game, actually far from it. It includes a number of questionable practices regarding micro-transactions, generally speaking, we are fine with micro-transactions as long as they add value to the game and art or work done. But in case of NBA 2K 18 or so far stretch that totally throws the balance out of the playing court there mostly found against my career mode which involves the player character beginning at a base rate of 60. One of the main goals of the “my career mode” is to be the absolute best player out there in the path to reach that level is by increasing your skills across various categories.
For starters, once you start playing with your favourite team you’ll be rewarded with virtual currency. These earnings used to unlock some of the earlier skills however once you start unlocking some of the later skills you require literally thousands of points! So you’are either looking at grinding through tons of matches or using micro-transactions to get the number of points and increase your rating. This emphasis on micro-transactions also extends to customizations, if you want a particular hairstyle, prepare to shell out of that virtual currency you want to shiny new tattoo, then keep on grinding.
This system applies to player shoes, clothes, and even animations yes you need to have a ton of virtual currency either by grinding or by paying real money. Virtual currency packs range from 5000 coins to 450,000 coins and this will cost you as low as two dollars to $100. Talking of Virtual Currency as we all know that this is not a new concept to the series, it’s been here since NBA 2K13 but it is absolutely ridiculous since this has become a kind of forced featuring NBA 2K18, especially with the new mode of the game includes. According to user reports it will take over 200 matches to achieve a player rating of the mid-80s. You might want to adjust your expectations if you are aiming for that golden 99 rating, should you wish to not spend your hard earned money on micro-transactions. However if you can ignore these unwanted practices NBA 2K18 provides a genuinely entertaining basketball experience, and one of the ways it does this through its vastly improved presentation and character animations.
The top-notch presentation isn’t exactly alien to this franchise and we have praised it a lot in our earlier NBA 2K coverages. Visual concepts had taken it to an all new different level, with Koby Brian and Kevin Garnett make an appearance as guest commentators while the on-field commentary team is simply exceptional and dynamic making it perhaps the best iteration of this series has seen, you could really see that visual concept are pushing immersion factor when they include minor details such as on-site interviews and player speaking about their personal experience with playing ball. These are intricate details that go along by amping up the immersion factor, however, we found the general music to be lacking this time around, we like NBA 2K 17 which had a certain flow to its music, we thought NBA 2K 18’s music to be forced in without context. It always feels like the developers thought this particular track sounds catchy so let’s put in there without any context.
The graphics, for the most part, are pretty amazing and you have to look twice before realizing that the characters are just 3-D models this is backed up by some pretty amazing cloth and hair simulation, however, facial animations are largely disappointing and those dull eyes are a straight ripoff from your favourite horror movie? The game also suffers from clipping issues but that are not something that will detract you from the overall experience, gameplay wise most of the stuff you have seen in NBA 2K17 has made the transition quite well in NBA 2K18. Gameplay feels really smooth, thanks to a solid 60 frames per second experience and fluid animations, passing and dribbling feel solid whereas taking shots feels much more dynamic. Ball physics have been largely improved upon and it no longer feels like they’re attached the player hands, instead behave accordingly with the surrounding environment.
Defense is a bit harder this time around but that’s all right because it was way easier in the previous entry so from a purely gameplay perspective and on-field game action the series latest entry delivers once again. “MyGM” and “my league” make a return in NBA 2K18 and they are largely the same except the former which allows you to take your custom character and put them in the shoes of a manager from the top level it feels like an extension to be “my career” mode, because “my GM” takes place after your character’s career and stood with an injury. Unfortunately, myGM falters in its presentation the lack of voiceovers and some weird dialogue choices. You still will be developing your dream team by pinching challenges, but it’s largely the same experience as before, except for the unwanted textbased story mode that we mentioned earlier.
NBA 2K18 also introduces neighbourhoods, a kind of social space, where you and other players hang out in a semi-open world setting. This place it filled with shops where you can buy new hairstyles, tattoos, clothes, in short, this mode ties in with “My career”, “My park” and “Pro M” game modes, unfortunately, these locations are placed at long distances from each other it was pretty painful to walk all over again. Again with visual concepts are tried to do with neighbourhoods although the idea seems to be derived from online games such as Destiny’s tower and we are really intrigued to see where they can take this concept in the next iteration. Playing the game online with my team generally works fine but we witnessed a bit of lag here and there. There wasn’t any issues with matchmaking and overall it was a decent experience.
In the end, NBA 2K18 feels like visual concepts that are trying too many things at once. MyGM story mode and neighbourhoods could add the great potential for what we got instead is an unpolished experience. The game’s micro-transactions are disastrous and make the career mode and absolute grind. Ultimately the core NBA 2K 18’s gameplay is amazing as long as if you don’t mind the micro-transactions in the “My Career” mode, you’re going to have a blast.