Name: NBA2K19
Developer: Visual Concepts
Publisher: 2K Sports
Released: 07.09.2018 (20th Anniversary Edition) 11.09.2018 (Standard Edition)
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4 Pro
Acquired: A copy of this game was provided from publisher for review purpose

I’ve always found basketball to be an interesting sport, but there aren’t many options to choose from when it comes to a basketball video game. And to be honest, I do have a lot of experience when it comes to football and soccer games such as Madden, FIFA and PES. My only experience with a basketball game is NBA2K6 and NBA2K16. So with that being said, I chose to head onto this review with a fresh mind, reviewing this in a newcomer perspective.

Story

There are a lot of different modes in NBA2K19, such as MyCareer, MyLeague/MyGym, MyTeam and The Neighborhood. I will give you my opinions on each mode in this review. But in this section, story mode, I will give you my opinions on the MyCareer mode and MyLeague/MyGM.

Let’s start of with MyCareer, it became pretty clear that Visual Concept have used their time with this mode. Cutscenes, voice acting, script and so on. This mode might be one of the strongest modes in this title, but it can be one of the weakest as well. The story is called “The Way Back”, you play as A.I, an NBA player who didn’t get drafted and is forced to play in China. The story follows A.I in his journey back to the NBA in America. He will get new friendships, learning how to behave on and off the court.

The story itself isn’t that interesting or new, but it’s fun to play through. Seeing the journey from the bottom to top, the voice acting is decent and the script, even though it isn’t catchy, is still well written. From what I have been saying so far might be promising and worth at least and eight out of ten in score, but then comes the bad part. And this one is brutal!

After you have created your own character, played through the prelude, watched all the cutscenes, answered the journalists questions and played a lot of matches and managed to do well for yourself things goes sideways. Your character begins with a rating of 60, overall an NBA player has a rating between 80-95. This is, of course, your goal, to get to that NBA level. But after you have played through all of the things I mentioned now, you might be around a rating of 70-75. (It might take you around four to five hours.) And the progression from this point is a pain in the ass. I personally don’t like grinding in video games, like many others. This is why many publishers are adding microtransactions to their games, so people don’t need to grind, just purchase that sweet rating, weapon, or other top level in-game stuff. But adding microtransactions onto the progression in the MAIN STORY in your title is a very bad thing to do.

I didn’t have the time to try to achieve a higher rating with my character, as I don’t like grinding, and I hate microtransactions (especially in video games that you need to pay full price to get the game). So I searched around the web and tried to calculate on how many matches I had to play to achieve the NBA rating level, the answer is approx 400 matches. That is a lot of grinding, and a lot of repetitive gameplay. I got a small policy in my head when I buy new video games, if there are micro transactions involved, especially when it comes to progression or other pay to win factors, then the game is broken. In this case, if MyCareer mode was the only single player experience in NBA2K19, I would say it’s broken, and that’s sad. Since the voice acting and the script are strong enough to give us an excellent story.

But if you don’t have the time, energy or real-life money to go through the main story. We have the MyGM and MyLeague mode. In this mode you can get your hands dirty running an NBA franchise or a whole league of them. There are some improvements in the menus and overall organization, and it’s a big plus that your progress from MyGM story is a direct sequel from NBA2K18 with the option to carry over your key decisions. But again, this mode hasn’t got that special touch during development. The writing and performance are terrible, every single conversation and “cutscene” is “wordy” to the extreme, and gets uninteresting fast. So my recommendation (and thank God this option exist) is that you play this year MyGM with a story-free version, as the management stuff is fun to play.

Overall, the story has big potential, and my policy for microtransactions is a huge struggle here. I’m trying big time to think objectively on this one, but the grinding in the main story is too big. I want to disclude the story by not setting any score on this topic. But this is a major feature, and it doesn’t help that MyGM/MyLeague mode disappointed as well. Therefore, I think this mode might be positive for extreme fans of this series, but again you might want to wait for a discount. As I said, I want to give this topic a zero score or one out of ten, but thinking of this objectively and by using our score system. This falls into a three out of ten. On the bright side, this is one out of two topics that I’m disappointed off. There are a few topics here, that really impressed me.
3/10

Graphics

The overall visuals in NBA2K19 are one of the strongest elements in this game. The players look great, the basketball court looks awesome, animations when flying up to the basket is gorgeous. I’m impressed with a lot of the details Visual Concepts has done with minor details, except for one crucial detail, ‘Facial Animations’. There is a lot of cutscenes, pre-game shows, half time shows and so on when you play a match. Don’t read me wrong, I love those details, but the facial animations doesn’t match the voicing. And that becomes really frustrating fast.
Beside that, on and off court sounds, music and voice acting are well made.
7/10

GAME-NBA2K19-SCREEN2

Gameplay

As mentioned, there are a lot of other modes in NBA2K19 beside MyCareer, MyGM/MyLeague. Such as the regular ‘Play Now’ online and offline. It was in this mode I had the most fun, mostly offline against friends with a second controller. You can say I got my ass kicked when I played online. Both me and friends, how can I say this? We’re extremely newcomers to basketball video games. So the learning curve was steep and hard. Even though we know the rules of basketball, mastering the gameplay mechanics are a tough one. There are a lot of different combos when it comes to layups, shooting, dribbling, defense, etc. Even with all of these fancy combos, you can get by with the basic, passing, ball handling, shooting and defense. If you keep your head straight and not become overwhelmed by all of the options, the combos ain’t a huge Tekken 7 combo or a biology exam to remember.

They are saying that the shot meter is better this year. I didn’t exactly get the hang of it. Sometimes the ball went into the basket, and other times it didn’t, even though I released the shot button at the same location in the shot meter. The new ‘Takeover’ feature which grants a player a skill boost is nice touch, giving a player special powers, unique animations and so on. It might be similar to NBA Jam, but it works. This means NBA2K19 might move a bit to arcade gameplay, than realism. But the dedicated detail when it comes to presentation are still present.

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I decided to look at this title as a newcomer to the series. The learning curve is hard, especially if you play alone against the computer. Because the AI might have gotten improved from its predecessors, but you’re still sitting there thinking what the hell they’re doing. Creating fouls all the time for no reason. As the MyCareer mode was a bust for me, the gameplay gets repetitive and uninteresting fast. However, this might be an icebreaker game to play against your friends now and then.
6/10

Controls

The control schematics are brutal to figure out as a newcomer. If you haven’t played a single NBA2K game before, you might want to use a lot of time browsing the option menu. Because there ain’t a prompted or optional tutorial mode here. Even after almost 25 hours playtime, I still can’t figure out the defense controls. But the basics are alright, I reviewed this title on the PlayStation 4 Pro. Multiple times I encountered delays or the controls not being as precise as it should be. For example the ‘Shot Meter’, the basics is that you hold the square button or the right stick to fill up the shot meter, and release. Multiple times I experienced that the bar kept filling up after released, and sometimes it stopped even though I was still holding the button down.  
5/10

Replay Value

NBA2K19 doesn’t lack the amount of content, with a lot of different modes. MyCareer, MyGM/MyLeague, The Neighborhood and MyTeam. The popular collectible card game returns with tons of complete visuals and menus overhaul, so if you enjoy MyTeam, this will definitely keep you occupied for a while. Same goes with MyLeague, a lot of managing to do. And if you love grinding, upgrading your character in MyCareer will suit you well.
9/10

You can check out our review policy right here, if you wonder how we set our scores.

Overall
6/10
6/10
  • Story - 3/10
    3/10
  • Graphics - 7/10
    7/10
  • Gameplay - 6/10
    6/10
  • Controls - 5/10
    5/10
  • Replay Value - 9/10
    9/10
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User Review
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Verdict

NBA2K19 might be one of the strongest titles in this series with beautiful graphics, tons of content and a great appeal to fans of the genre. But my opinion when it comes to microtransactions, especially when it interferes with one of the main features of the game is game-breaking. My score of this title would be a lot different if this option was unavailable, because the story itself is well performed. Decent writing, good voice acting and very appealing to PvE players. The rest of this game stays strong, gameplay mechanics works great, there is a small challenge with the controls as a newcomer, but it is manageable. The replay value is high, and it’s fun to master. Too bad a single business model/decision ruins this experience.

Pros

  • Great Visuals
  • Lots of content
  • Very appealing to fans of the genre

Cons

  • Microtransactions interference with the MyCareer experience
  • Controls are hard to learn for newcomers
  • AI needs improvement

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