Fans of the series were coming into this game with rather low expectations after a rather pitiful product in 2K17. That being said, does this game meet expectations? Yes and no. Here’s what I’ve got to say about it.
Most fans look forward to the creation of their MyPlayer and the main mode it is used in, MyCareer, a mode where you bring your MyPlayer into a virtual version of today’s NBA and progress as a player. One of the hallmarks of this mode is the customization it offers when it comes to the creation of your player, allowing full on face sculpting. They offer a face scan that plants your face onto your MyPlayer, but we don’t speak of that. While I was thrilled(?) to see the return of the face scan, I wasn’t too fond to see the customization they offered. They had a group of preset faces you could remotely change: skull height, skull width, eye color, eye shape, nose shape, and mouth shape. After customizing my MyPlayer, it appeared purchasing this game was a mistake. A nice little diamond in the rough to this creation was the new archetype system. 2K introduced this system in 2K17. You chose what type of player you wanted to be, limiting how much you can upgrade in certain fields. This time around, you’re allowed a primary and secondary archetype (playmaking slashers rule). This feature was welcomed with arms wide open in my case.
With the bad taste of the customization still lingering, I was slapped in the face with the fact that you no longer got drafted into the NBA based on your performance in various college games. You simply had to choose what team you wanted to be on and a scout from that team happens to notice your talent. That reminds me, the story remains a weak point among MyCareer. This wasn’t too shocking as it had never really been strong throughout it’s existence in the series. As a former basketball prodigy who turned his focus on music instead, you compete in a streetball tournament under the name “DJ”, only to be met by a scout of the team you chose in the beginning. A couple of uncompelling sequences later, you attend training camp and make it onto the roster. That’s it. That’s the entire story. And that’s without mentioning any of the aggravating, forgettable characters, yours included.
Now let’s get to the main reason anyone would purchase a basketball game, the basketball part. If I had to choose a singular strong point in the game, it would be the gameplay. The gameplay feels much more fluidic than past games, as basketball should feel. They’ve implemented a new shot meter that hovers next to your MyPlayer’s head. It definitely takes getting used to, but it gets the job done. The graphics continue to improve, providing a beautiful view on the various players, stadiums, and uniforms you’ll see. Never encountered any glitches or bugs, so it seems sound on a technical level. With the improved mechanics, I found it much easier to play against 80 overall players while I was still a pitiful 65 overall. That links to one of the main complaints about the game: MyPlayer progression. Is it harder than previously to upgrade your MyPlayer’s overall? Absolutely. Do they shove microtransactions in your face for faster leveling? Quintuple absolutely. Is the purchase of VC necessary to upgrade your MyPlayer at a steady rate? Not at all. After around 5 hours put into the game’s MyCareer, I’m rocking that 70 overall badge. I’ve even got a couple of fancy animations with VC I saved up. Many people don’t like the progression because they want to be a deity among the 2K community for how good their MyPlayer is the moment the game launches. That’s simply not how the game works without the purchase of VC. You will have to grind for VC. You will have to grind for the skill badges the game provides you with via the archetype system. The game simply requires more time sunken into it than previous iterations.
The traditional MyCourt as we know it is no longer; at least this year. The MyCourt that saw you trapped inside as a sort of lobby/hub for the experience has been swapped with a free-roam multiplayer hub 2K has taken to calling “The Neighborhood”; with the MyCourt being included in your apartment. To be honest, I don’t know how to feel about it. I miss the convenience of getting a tattoo on my MyPlayer through the quick menu, but I also appreciate an actual tattoo shop being included to walk into. Among The Neighborhood are various other shops where you can purchase shoes, clothes, accesories, new haircuts, and new facial hair with that hard earned VC of yours. Just like last year, there’s a practice facility with plenty of different mini-games to improve parts of your game. Other MyPlayer’s trot around The Neighborhood with you, especially those that’re 90 overall or above. They’ll walk up to you just so you know how much better they are at this game than you are, you [enter explicit language]. Among the things to do in The Neighborhood is the pro-am center. Oh, the good ole pro-am center. Just like in previous games, you can assemble a roster of up to 9 other MyPlayers and compete against other teams of MyPlayers. Word of warning: you will get demolished if you get matched against the wrong team.
Should you get 2K18? If you’re a fan of the series and just want to play a basketball game, absolutely. But again, you have to be willing to put in time to grind for VC and badges. For those who are looking to be a god immediately, try NBA Live? This is by no means a review of the game, simply my take on what I’ve experienced thus far. When I look at 2K18 I see a slightly above average game in general, but the title will resonate well with true fans of the sport.