Photo courtesy of 2K screenshot release.
BY ADAM HEATER
One of the only times you’d see a community of basketball fans packed into a game store is on the release date of the new NBA 2K. Walking into that GameStop, it was hard to tell whether you had walked into a store to buy a basketball video game or walked into an actual basketball game. One couldn’t help but empathize with the two employees who had to filter through each and every twenty-something gamer who was racing to see who could get home and overload the NBA 2K servers first.
These excited individuals had reason to rush home. NBA 2K18 has added some features that loyal members of the community have wanted for years. It’s no secret to sports-gamers that NBA 2K tends to be slower to add features than some of its competitors like Madden and FIFA. 2K18 is debuting their Pack and Playoffs mode, which is a response to Madden’s Draft Champions. However, some players aren’t as excited about the feature, as much as they feel like it’s about time they added a game mode where they can draft a team and play online immediately against an opponent.
“I guess it’s a good thing for them to add, but they really just directly copied Madden almost identically, and it feels like they could’ve done something to make it more unique,” Kevin Grady, avid fan of both 2K and Madden, said.
There is one thing that stands out as a feature that many fans of the NBA are very excited about and that is unique to the NBA 2K franchise. In addition to being able to start a quick game with any current NBA team and a host of historic teams, like Magic Johnson’s Lakers or Larry Bird’s Celtics, 2K18 allows the option for the all-time best players of each franchise on one team.
“As a fan of NBA history, specifically my favorite team, the Miami Heat, it’s amazing to have LeBron James, Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway all on the floor at the same time,” Grady said.
The narrative that this year’s NBA 2K would be leaps and bounds ahead of previous installments in the series held some merit before release day. NBA 2K has had one main competitor since 1999, NBA Live. But the competition has been largely one sided. NBA 2K16 sold more than one million copies, and NBA Live 16 sold just over one thousand. However, EA Sports didn’t release a version of NBA Live for the 2017 season, taking a year off to improve their concept for 2018. Basketball fans hoped that the perceived competition would push 2K to make a big leap in the gamer experience. But to some fans, 2K still has not made very many leaps from their previous games.
“Overall, the game doesn’t seem like it’s changed a lot,” said Grady. “Some of the graphics look better, and there are some other cosmetic changes that are to be expected, but it’s still a good game. It’s a lot of fun, and they listened to the community and added some features. So, I think this year’s game could’ve been better, but it’s still very promising.”
Personally, I’ve played almost every NBA 2K since I first got 2K7 for the PlayStation 2, and the gameplay is one of the best in recent years. The developers have made an effort to take out some bugs in the game that avid players call “cheese.” Giannis Antetokounmpo’s euro-step is actually possible to defend, and reverse layups on the baseline get blocked. Traditionally, the gameplay feels noticeably different from year-to-year, but 2K18 and 2K17 feel very similar as far as responsiveness of controls, crispness of movements and predictability of animations. The biggest improvements to the game this year are additional features and improved graphics and some bug fixes. As a fan of the series, I’m happy, and I’ve had a blast with the game thus far. The lack of proactive change made to the gameplay might disappoint some players, but I’d urge them to appreciate the good things that the game offers instead of nitpicking the details.