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NBA 2K18 Review: Redefining immersion for sports games

Every year the 2K Sports team makes it harder and harder for you to find a reason to leave your home. This year is no different.

NBA 2K18 may very well represent the pinnacle of sports gaming with a necessary leap from the franchise to keep NBA Live at bay (by a mile) and offer it’s passionate community one of the most immersive sports games ever.

In an attempt to find the fine line of innovation while keeping what worked in the past present, here’s what NBA 2K18 has come up with…

New features/MyCareer

Whether you’re a fan of this mode or not, you have to begin reviewing NBA 2K18 with its MyCareer mode and Run the Neighborhood theme.

NBA 2K18 takes the story mode to another level this year with an open world feel where users can venture around a neighborhood and do Grand Theft Auto-esque things. This makes the process of customizing one’s MyPlayer that much more in-depth (the face scanning has also been improved this year). The mode is complete with mini-games, a Foot Locker store to try on and buy new shoes and apparel, a barber shop, a movie theater and much more.

This allows the story mode to be that much deeper, and intertwined with all of the other modes involving your MyPlayer (which you can now start out with multiple player archetypes so expect more variety to the players out there). It takes hours to explore all of the new details, but if you’re not into that, let’s get to the actual basketball.

Gameplay

The feel is definitely different this year. The 2K team’s improvement in its physics and animations engine allows the user more control with more natural-looking basketball. The result is immediately feeling a quicker game that’s more responsive, and that extends to the AI as well.

Your teammates move with more direction and get into sets quicker. The transition game is revamped to make your teammates smarter at deciding when to fill the lanes or flare out and spot up for threes. On the defensive end, you’ll immediately notice help defense being much smarter. There will be no more spamming the pick-and-roll for wide open dunk after dunk. AI players are smarter and quicker to help off non-shooters and to do so at the proper time.

2K has built off its dribbling system allowing the user even more control to string together multiple dribble moves in seemingly endless combinations. With the added control, it allows better ball handlers being controlled by gamers more experienced on the sticks to really take advantage and exploit mismatches like never before.

Speaking of mismatches, get ready to be pounded on the glass if you like to play small or are out of position when a shot goes up. Bigs will punish smaller players down low, make you pay for being out of position or not dedicating enough rebounders when a shot goes up.

Shooting also feels smoother resulting in what seems to be quicker shot releases and animations. There’s a learning curve but when it all comes together, the finished product is pretty. The shot meter has been moved above the player, and removed on layups (although good timing is still necessary).

All in all, gameplay has taken a definite step up, building on a solid foundation and showing that there is much more potential in this year’s build.

Graphics

Once 2K started rolling out players’ ratings on Twitter, it quickly became evident that the graphics got a nice upgrade this year as well.

Player faces are scanned and detailed better than ever and the body builds are also more realistic, especially for the thinner players that looked pretty odd in 2K17.

Just take a look at this.

Enough said.

MyGM/MyLeague

For the offline players, you weren’t forgotten. It was a total face lift like with other modes, but these modes didn’t have too much to improve upon anyway.

Adding the G-League and draft-and-stash players are a couple of nice additions. For the more hardcore gamers, you’ll find 2K has improved on some of the important details with regards to the Collective Bargaining Agreement — mainly the specifics surround player contracts.

There’s also a free agent moratorium, two-way contracts and a new analytic tools so you can dive as deep as possible into the nitty-gritty aspects of your franchise.

MyTeam

MyTeam got one of the biggest overhauls with 2K adding much more offline content that will last gamers months and months before they need to go online.

MyTeam Online has been renamed Super Max — broken up into seasons with different rewards for each one, and including a salary cap that will change as the year goes on.

MyTeam also finally added a draft mode called Pack and Playoffs. This essentially replaces Blacktop and has the user draft five-man teams to play through playoff rounds. Advancing further allows the user more selections from the card board that’s reminiscent of Blacktop’s last season.

Weekly challenges are back and 2K is promising more challenges on top of that. A quick glance at the available historic cards once again reveals MyTeam plans to have tons and tons of cards this year, hopefully so users have more variety to their teams.

There will also be MyTeam goals similar to last year. Pink Diamond Shaq is essentially replacing Pink Diamond Kobe as the ultimate reward, but this year it will be about more than just collecting cards.

The Verdict

Once everything settles down with inevitable glitches and server issues in the early weeks of the game’s release, it will be hard for any honest 2K gamer to complain about this year’s product.

It’s only built upon a great foundation, giving fans the most realistic NBA experience ever and much more depth for just about every game mode.