It’s getting to the point (okay, maybe it’s already gotten to the point) where NBA 2K is the Madden of basketball. Diehard fans wait anxiously for the release date every year, and snap up the new installment as quickly as they can when it drops. This year, those who pre-ordered even got to play the game several days early. If there’s a better incentive for pre-ordering, I’d like to hear it.
This year’s edition of the game continues to improve upon 2K’s stated goal to make the most realistic NBA experience possible for players. When it comes to the core of the game, the actual on-court gameplay, they’ve accomplished that many times over. The final product this year just straight-up looks like a televised NBA game, from the player models to the onscreen graphics, to Ernie Johnson hosting the halftime show and flanked by a grumpy Shaquille O’Neal.
The gameplay and handling is spectacular, with plenty of options to tweak your shooting, controls, and game settings to get it right in the sweet spot of what you’re looking for. The addition of all-time teams is also extremely welcome, and gives you another 30 or so options for teams to play as when you’re tired of using the Warriors or Cavs to whomp on opponents.
Beyond the actual on-court games with actual teams, GM mode is also a ton of fun, and it’s a blast to simulate your way through a season, even if you simulate every game all the way to the Finals. There are some real twists and turns to be had as you take control of an NBA team of your choosing, even if you might get tired of seeing your created GM and the people he talks to gesticulate wildly with their hands in lieu of there being recorded dialogue. We’re not going to spoil anything for you, but let’s just say at one point, you might be given a choice to fire an unsavory employee, and it might be extremely gratifying.
The MyTeam mode, where you open packs of “cards” to unlock players and attempt to create the best possible team, has a few new game types but remains largely unchanged from last year’s game. If you liked last year’s iteration, you’ll like this year’s. If that mode isn’t for you, there’s plenty of other stuff to do while you poke around under the hood of NBA 2K18.