NBA 2K18 is a basketball simulation video game developed by Visual Concepts and published by 2K Sports. It is the 19th installment in the NBA 2K franchise and the successor to NBA 2K17. --- Wikipedia
NBA 2K18 was released in September, 2017 for the PC, Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and the Nintendo Switch. NBA 2K18 is rated E 10+ by the ESRB.
I have not purchased a basketball game in a while. The last purchase was NBA 2K12 for the Xbox 360. Before that, it was on the Sega Genesis (Lakers vs Bulls). Even though we have a Playstation 4 and the gameplay would be at 1080p, 60 fps, I based my decision not on the performance standards, but on my style of gameplay. My family goes out and runs errands on the weekend. I realized that I will not have much time to play this game on the console. As a result, I want to be able to have the option of taking it with me wherever I go. The most obvious choice was to get it on the Nintendo Switch.
**This review will not make any comparisons to other console versions of this game. There are enough YouTube video comparisons out that cover this and add to the debate(s). I will rate this game for its own merits on the Nintendo Switch and leave the graphic and fps comparisons to others who want to debate on this.**
There are 4 modes: PlayNOW, MyCAREER, MyGM/MyLEAGUE and MyTEAM. In short, a quick play mode, a franchise mode from the perspective of the player or GM, a fantasy league type mode that is online. I have not played MyTEAM during the writing of this review.
Once you choose your team in any mode and begin playing you are treated to an ‘NBA on 2KSports’ pre game show with Shaquille O’Neal, Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith. There is a brief analysis and comparison of the two teams and then it takes you directly to the game itself. The color commentary is done by the crew of Kevin Harlan, Brent Barry, Chris Webber, Greg Anthony, Dorris Burke and Clark Kellogg. David Aldridge handles the sideline interviews during the game. Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett are also guest commentators that may show up during Laker and/or Celtic hosted games.
As stated before, I have not purchased an NBA 2K game since 2012. I have to admit that the commentary and presentation has come a long way. I am impressed with how much closer this has come to watching an actual game on the TV! Everything from a shortened national anthem song up to the pre-game team/player introductions was great. Player and coach interviews are handled quite nicely. There’s a half-time show with analysis. There is game time analysis during timeouts and roster changes. And there are even cheerleader and mascot interactions during the timeouts. The commentary during the game is very good. I am still trying to check for those repeating generic statements.
Another observation are the arena crowds. I noticed that even the crowd was almost unique in their own way. Although you could make out repeating generic heads/faces, they wore a different variety of clothing that made no two fans the same. They even appear to get in to game more when the game is really close and the intensity is high. Shouting and clapping ‘DEFENSE’ when the opposing team has the ball and standing up and cheering when there is a turnover or defensive rebound. That was quite refreshing. NBA 2K18 has come a long way with developing the full package.
Finally, there is a video episode series called 2KTV hosted by Rachel DeMita (apparently she has done this in previous games and must be popular. As I’ve said, I’ve not had this game in 6 years). The episodes are done on a weekly basis and has interviews with various players and retired legends of the NBA. They also have pointers and advice on playing 2K18. I found the 2 episodes (spotlight on Kyrie Irving and Shaquille O’Neal fun and amusing).
Final thoughts on Presentation – Even though the character models have vastly improved over the last 6 years, they are still somewhat emotionless and robotic. Realistic models is only one aspect of giving the presentation life. The ability for them to communicate emotion is the next step to making them act that much more ‘human’. Maybe in the next 5 years in NBA 2K23. They have come a long way, but still have a ways to go.
Presentation gets a 7.5
The player character models on 2K18 are much improved since my last purchase. Graphically, the game looks beautiful. I am impressed at how much detail was given to the Nintendo Switch. Reflections off the hardwood floor actually makes it look like it was waxed. Everything from hair styles, facial hair, and equipment is well represented.
The coach character models are decent. However, I think that there is something not quite right about Steve Kerr’s character model. I cannot determine if it’s his hair style or the hair color.
The crowd character details are less, but they are better than from years past.
Finally, the cheerleaders have improved… somewhat. They do look better with their dance routines and mascots. But I can understand that they did not give them the same kind of care as they would the players.
I understand that the graphic power is nowhere near what the PS 4 and Xbox One has done, but the Switch is a whole different machine. The Switch was not meant to have that kind of muscle since it is a hybrid system. With that, I think 2K did a wonderful job at getting the most out of it.
Graphics gets a 7.5
The roar of the crowd. The blaring 24 second and quarter ending horn, the squeak of the shoes on the hardwood, the music inside the arena that is trying to get the hometown fans excited. The sound of the dunk or the swish of a 3 point bomb hitting nothing but net. The music played on the menus and the sound quality of 2KTV. These all sounded great.
There isn’t much to say. Sound gets a 7.5
I am a total novice at this game. I lack timing to make shots appropriately. I forget what buttons I need to push to crossover dribble or do some kind of nifty move underneath the rim. I still can’t get my timing down to get the jump ball. I do not know how to perform fancy no-look passes and my alley-oops usually result in a turnover more than a primetime highlight reel. With that, I have to say this game is fun to play.
About a week ago, my family was having dinner with some friends and 3 of us decided to play together on the same team. My son, myself and another guy were the Golden State Warriors. We played in pro mode and we had our behinds handed to us because we first could not get our timing down when it came to shooting. We kept getting confused of which player we were controlling because we kept forgetting our color assignment from our controllers. And we totally made the Warriors look like.. well… a bunch of novices trying to control them.
With that, we had a wonderful time and were laughing the whole way. Being able to play 3 player co-op with no experience under our belts was wonderful because we did it together. Whenever one of us did make a shot, it always gave hope that we could get our act together and mount a miraculous comeback. Of course that didn’t happen though! Needless to say, I am improving now and I’m slowly getting the hang of this game.
MyCAREER started me off as an Asian American retired DJ who now wants to get back in to his glory days of playing hoop. The fun part is that it starts off like a movie. You even have a roommate who provides you with some comedy relief. Although, I wonder why my roommate is a girl. I’m not sure if I would end up doing that in real life…. Sorry, I ramble. I got as far as going through the ‘Proving Grounds’ and got signed by…. You guessed it. The Golden Warriors. There is too much to describe here. But I can tell you that this is very immersive. I am looking forward to playing through this to see how my legacy impacts the NBA.
I have not done anything with MYTEAM as of yet. So I cannot review it with confidence.
MyGM/MyLEAGUE reminds me of franchise mode except much more immersive. In MyGM, I can either make personal customizations to the training schedule or allow the computer to run it. I can get my matchups together before each game. I can personalize the matchups and edit the rotation too. There is an extensive playbook that I still have yet to look in to and learn. And I even have to bring players in and talk to them if they have a morale problem. How I respond to them affects the overall chemistry of the team, that player’s trust and the overall trust of the team. I also have to talk to the coach, trainers and everyone else in the same way to build them up. To aid in my influence and charisma, I am able to purchase these bonuses through the in-game currency system. These are given to me as I accomplish either goals, or as I continue to play the game. My earnings can be used to purchase these bonuses so that I can keep my people happy and committed to my message and goals. In other words, this is very detailed and requires a lot of micro-management.
If the preference is not to have all those responsibilities MyLEAGUE might be the better choice. Less responsibilities. More concentration on just playing through the season.
This game runs at 30 fps. It runs great. I didn’t notice anything that was game-breaking in the mode that was most important to me. And that is while I am playing the game. If the framerate does not set me back while I am trying to beat my opponent, then everything else is gravy. The moves, the shooting style, the dunking technique and even franchise player signature moves are all represented. And I like what I see. Having all of the same features and gameplay across all platforms makes this a winner to me.
Only one majorly irritating issue. The corrupt data glitch in your profile that occurs if you are not logged on to the internet when you run 2K18. They need to fix this immediately because it is a major setback to the experience.
Gameplay gets a 7 only because of that irritating glitch. Fix it and it goes to an 8!
Conclusion and Closing Thoughts
I have to mention the memory elephant in the room. I understand that 2K used a lower level cartridge for this game. I also understand that this game takes a tremendous amount of memory on the Switch. 25 Gigabytes are needed. I also understand why there are a number of consumers upset about this and place partial blame on 2K and point at Nintendo. I do think that 2K should have done something to make it easier on us consumers (Like using the bigger memory cartridge).
For me, it is no surprise that I will need to purchase more memory cards for the Switch. I’ve been buying extra memory for years now with the 3DS (since 2011). I am used to it. It is understandable that there are consumers that believe that Nintendo should have thought ahead for this kind of stuff and it is reasonable that those same individuals would talk about it in their YouTube videos and internet message boards.
My opinion is that I can make my own decisions about what I need when it comes to extra memory for the Switch. If Nintendo added more memory (say 128 or 256 Gigs of internal memory) then the price on the Switch goes up. I would estimate either to $349.99 or to $399.99 as a result. Looking at that price, there would be a very good chance that I do not purchase the Switch on Memorial Day of 2017. That price increase is not feasible to me personally.
If I am going to be purchasing a lot of games for the Switch (and I think I will be), then I can purchase MSD cards as I need and can get them at an affordable price since I know where the deals are. I’ve been doing this with the 3DS for years so it’s easy (for me, I am not speaking for others). I’m glad that the Switch was only $299.99.
Overall, NBA 2K18 is a strong AAA game and I personally think 2K did a wonderful job. The fact that I can take this with me on-the-go is a game changer.
Here are my final scores
Presentation – 7.5
Graphics – 7.5
Sound – 7.5
Gameplay – 7 (fix the glitch and it becomes an 8!)
Final Score - 7.3 if glitch remains an issue. 7.6 once it gets addressed.