NBA 2K18 is one hell of a basketball game. It’s also buggy and could have used a little more time sorting that stuff out. Frankly, I can’t recommend the game enough for NBA fans, but at the same time, I’d caution you that you may run into a save game bug that could put your progress in jeopardy. Additionally, and I can’t make this up, ridiculous things are behind microtransactions – like the ability to add facial hair to your player. All that aside, NBA 2K18 remains the king of its castle, and one of the best basketball sims of all time. Just mind the down-sides. This is our NBA 2K18 review.
I had the pleasure of reviewing 2K and Visual Concepts’ latest entry on both the PC and the Switch. Word to the wise – the Switch size is so massive you need to buy or have a Micro SD card to install it and save your game. The thing’s massive, and 2K didn’t skimp on much except lower res graphics with this port. There’s something absolutely fantastic about having NBA 2K on the Switch – its portability alone makes the game worth it. While visual folks might not like the lower grade graphics, I have to say that 2K18 still looks quite good on the Switch. Side by side, you’ll know that the PC/PS4/XB1 are superior, but minus some suspect textures, the Switch looks damn fine.
This year’s big addition to NBA 2K18 is the Neighborhood mode for MyPlayer. It’s… a thing. I didn’t take a shine to it much, personally. The idea that my own created character has to be an ex-DJ looking to become an NBA star just seems silly. I didn’t like the Spike Lee story last time either, though, so it’s quite possible that as a white 30-something gamer I’m just not the target audience. I’m not cool enough to be DJ as they represent him in the Neighborhood mode. But I do appreciate the effort towards putting an “open world”, even a small one, to make your player character and his story feel unique.
The ability to truly tweak your player, his moves, and practice between games is pretty damned cool. It reminds me of the Yukes wrestling games and is probably why the new WWE game has its own back-stage free roam mode too. In wrestling, as you’re one person, that makes sense. In a basketball game, about teams and playing together, it feels hollow and meaningless. I much prefer the extremely competent MyGM and MyLeague modes on offer.
In MyGM, your player is the GM, a fallen from on-high retired NBA player who gets hired by whatever team you choose. You work the players’ egos, the owner’s crazy ideas, the press, the coaches, and yes – you play the games as well. That’s one thing about MyPlayer I loathe too – you can only play your own character when he’s not benched, and only him. In MyGM and MyLeague, you can play the game as it’s meant, controlling as much or as little of the action as you want.
NBA 2K18 is a game of min-maxing. You can play just the most casual way possible with quickplay, go deep into management with MyGM, or live out your hoop dreams in MyPlayer. I love that there’s such freedom of choice, and that the actual on-the-court action is so smooth is just icing on the cake. Playing the thing is pure joy. Calling plays, perfecting the pick and roll, staging alley-oops, it all works exactly as you’d expect and just like in 2K games past, the simulation mode makes sure your in-game play and stats stay consistent.
One final sour note, aside from the aforementioned large file-save size and broken save bugs (which seem to be corrected, or getting there), is that a lot of MyPlayer customization is locked behind microtransactions. You won’t make your character look truly like you want them to until you spend money or earn the points to do so through some other promotion/sponsorship like Mountain Dew or whatever. This is pure BS, frankly. You can essentially by your MyPlayer’s way to a 99 rating, or you can work for hundreds of hours to get it there. Who knew that “Pay to Win” would come to NBA 2K?
Now, if you don’t care about playing online, don’t care about optional microtransactions, and can stand the ups and downs of bugs that will be patched, NBA 2K18 is the best basketball game of the year and probably of the past decade. It’s a shame that some polish and poor business choices weigh it down.
Note: We reviewed NBA2K18 on both the Nintendo Switch and the PC, with codes from PR.