Reviews Jakub Wojtkowiak
Review: NBA 2K18 (PS4)
NBA 2K18 in the game database
Review: NBA 2K18 (PS4)

Reviewing NBA 2K18 should be easy – the game is (practically) without any competition and year after year it gets only better, fulfilling all expectations of every NBA fan. But theory is just a theory, and practice is a whole other thing. The newest entry from Visual Concepts gave me quite a headache. What for National Basketball Association’s sake did happen here?!

Let’s start from what is done right. You cannot say NBA 2K18 is bad in the terms of core gameplay. It’s better that last year’s title, as always, although those changes are not so big every year. Sadly, last two entries have improvements that only hardcore fans can detect. I’m sure no casual player will see a couple of new animations or bigger quantity of them. There are also better collision system and it has an influence on offensive play – it’s very easy to be blocked or lose the ball in stupid, unnecessary way. The new iteration requires a combination play and planning each move. Also, the AI adapts to other players on the court much better in defensive play. For example, basketball players with not-so-good stats will not be watched on 3-point line. It sounds simple, but it changes the gameplay significantly.

The biggest changes are in Career Mode. There we have… “plot”, or should I say, series of (unskippable) cutscenes which doesn’t do anything for the story. We start with training session on the street, where a scout of our previously chosen NBA team notices us. Then, it goes on exactly as you would think. The main new feature is The Neighbourhood. It is a special hub consisting of small city, where we can meet other players, go to the gym, make ourselves a tattoo, drink GATORADE, boast with our high-end JLB headphones, buy Nikes in FOOTLOCKER, visit a barber or play quick street match to 21 points. That sounds cool and maybe it’s the right way to go, but… the execution is horrible.

If anyone has played NBA games even for a short time, they know how players move – pretty slowly and clunky. In big matches this works just fine, but in street games – in modes like Blacktop or The Neighbourhood – it’s just awful. To get anywhere, we have to run, often for a few minutes. Aiming for the gym’s door is also hard as hell and you’ll circle around like Antonov. The most laughable part is the gym itself – there are usually a couple of players making a terrible job with lame quick time events to get a small bonus to stamina for the next match. Of course this bonus and the whole gym is sponsored by GATORADE. Imagine this – a group of NBA players who cannot run straight on a treadmill or lift a barbell without their arms trembling. The producer has clearly a great sense of humour.

Are we done with flaws? Nope, let me continue. There is something so bad that I suspect the publisher simply hate the players – SHAMELESS product placement. When we go to barber for the first time, we’re given the newest JLB headphones (don’t ask me why it happens in this particular place), because they are so cool and everybody knows you just have to have them. Anyway, it’s not like you have a choice… Moreover, in the special shop we can buy other JLB models. What’s bad about the gym? There are outrageously many GATORADE’s ads in every possible place. And that’s not all. I absolutely understand there are sponsors and they want to be seen during matches on the court – it’s part of the whole thing. But in “story” UNSKIPPABLE cutscenes? They went too far. There are also friendly street matches, where we have to wait in the queue for our turn. Unfortunately, the more I play there, the more I was getting angry. Especially due to framerate issues – there were time when they dropped to unacceptable level.

And now the last, but also the worst part of The Neighbourhood mode – payments (because they surely are not MICROpayments). As I said, we can visit a barber, clothing stores, tattoo parlors, buy drinks… and EVERYTHING is paid with their currency – VC. In the predecessor we could simply choose a haircut and other things like that. This time – forget it. Everything costs a lot of real money, even after a patch that lower the prices a little bit. You don’t care about the looks nor personalization and just want to play or get achievements? It’s going to be pretty hard. The stressful beginning lets us start with a newbie player with rank 60 (the max is 99). With that you just cannot play properly. Reaching acceptable level will take sick amounts of VC – but fear not, with 450,000 VC pack for €99.99 you should be ready to go and your character will look good. Maybe there will be some change for new JBLs…

It’s a damn shame, because I see the potential. The potential ruined by bad interface, long loading times, ads, technical problems and broken micropayments. Why 2K did not try to take the Career mode somewhere else? What did they have to lose? The risk was next to none. A proper story in the 70s? I’ve got plenty ideas and every one of them is better than this horrible thing. But you cannot promote your headphones with engaging plot, can you?

Nevertheless, if you want to focus on basketball matches and club competitions, you’ll be happy with what you’ve got here. It was always great in the series and it’s no different in NBA 2K18. We can still play with classic teams and there is even All Time Best option with the best players in history of chosen team. Well, there is no Euroleague this time, only NBA. Technical problems are non-existent in classic modes – the game there looks amazing and is perfectly stable with its framerate. MyGM is a complicated NBA mode, and 2KTV is still great. No surprise there – it’s hosted by Rachel and for her the final rating should be much, much higher.

Some of you probably noticed there isn’t much talking about the sport itself or NBA leagues in a review of NBA 2K18. Why? Because the game doesn’t care about it that much, focusing on the new (and horrible) mode with many problems. And to do anything there, you have to spend real money, or sacrifice a lot of your time for farming VC. That’s why the final verdict is not so simple. On the one hand there are a lot of bad new features, but on the other hand – the rest of the modes are fantastic and will be enough for every NBA fan. As I write every year – 2K needs a competitive race with EA. Fortunately, NBA Live 18 is getting decent reviews and I like its demo very much. I sincerely hope 2K will hear us and change its course. For now I’m going to check if Warriors will win, or maybe Cavs with Thomas will crush the Golden State team. And maybe Irving will make Boston great again? It’s going to be a very interesting season!

NBA 2K18
Out rating: 7.0/10
NBA 2K18 has many flaws, but the core gameplay is on the highest level possible as always. Promoted The Neighbourhood mode is screwed up and micropayments are just awful. Nonetheless, the game is worth playing... unless you have 2K16 or 2K17.
  • Pros
  • The core gameplay is on the highest possible level
  • All modes are great (excluding Career)
  • Animations are better and there are more of them
  • Cons
  • Minor changes comparing to 2K17
  • The new mode is broken
  • Shameless product placement
2k sports NBA 2K18 playstation 4 Visual Concepts

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