NBA 2K18 is good but doesn’t come close to meeting the expectations everyone had before its release.
I got my hands on the latest entry in the acclaimed NBA 2k franchise following one of my college classes on last Friday since as I do every year, I preordered the game that I would undoubtedly be spending hundreds of hours on for the next year.
Unlike last year, I knew I would not be able to devote as much time to the sports franchise due to work responsibilities and other games that are on my backlog, so I only reserved the standard edition of the game.
I was already disappointed when I got the game, and oddly enough a mini-box of Reese’s Puffs as a preorder bonus, from my local GameStop. The new cover they advertised with Kyrie Irving in his new Boston Celtic’s uniform was not actually included.
— NBA 2K 2K18 (@NBA2K) September 7, 2017
Instead, it was the previously shown cover with him still in a Cleveland Cavaliers jersey, which while not a big deal, was still a little saddening to this Celtics fan. After the game finished installing on my Playstation4, it was time to try out the new MyCareer mode.
As I do each year, I make my character a power forward/center who leans towards defense. This year I was pleasantly surprised to find a secondary option available for you to customize your character even more to your playstyle. I selected defense and three-point shooting and moved on to make the 6-foot-10 player I love to play as.
I was immediately confused about why there was a lack of hair, facial hair and other options that were previously available from the start, but I remember a promo saying something about a barbershop in the hub city so I waved it off.
The intro to the mode is fine, but I was startled when my character, whose nickname I changed, was once again forced to be called “DJ,” the default nickname in cutscenes. “DJ” just doesn’t fit with my player.
In previous installments, your character would scale to the customized options such as height and body type. If you were seven-feet tall, your character looked like a seven-footer. Instead, there was a six-foot-nothing point guard who every time the game put me onto the court suddenly had a growth spurt and then shrunk for each subsequent cutscene.
Even when I was eventually thrown into the hub world with other online players, which takes far too long to load into, all the players were the same height and anyone under rank 75 looked almost identical. Why? Because you have to be rank 75 or higher to buy clothing, unlike in earlier games. This change makes it harder to be an individual online and I was miffed when I couldn’t buy the gear for my favorite team right off the bat.
Why? Because you have to be rank 75 or higher to buy clothing, unlike in earlier games. This change makes it harder to be an individual online and I was miffed when I couldn’t buy the gear for my favorite team right off the bat.
Back to the actual story. After choosing Paul Pierce’s jump shot—they let you pick one before you play,—I played in a few games of three-on-three. Then, a badly voiced announcement came that, shockingly, I would be playing in the final round, a five-on-five game.
The sound issues continued after my team won, with a choppy postgame interview with an awful in-game model of Rachel DeMita. I really started to get a feel for how this year’s scripted personality was going to come out for my player character.
His backstory is that of a top-talent who played AAU ball before quitting to pursue a career in music, hence the nickname DJ. Simple enough.
But instead of being a happy-go-lucky guy who likes to joke or something like that, he just comes off as entitled, cocky and unlikable. Those feelings only grew as I continued with my two hours of gameplay.
After winning the Proving Grounds event DJ is approached by an NBA scout. You get to choose the team the scout works for, so mine was of course from the Celtics, and he asks if you have an agent. I chose to be truthful and said no. I truly began to dread what was coming after he said he couldn’t talk to me without an agent. and after he says he can’t talk to you without an agent, I truly began to dread what was coming.
You arrive back to your home, which is some type of warehouse this time, where you are introduced to my least favorite part of the game so far, B Fresh. She’s your character’s best friend. Other than being terribly modeled in-game and serving no purpose other than to make anyone with standards for characters in game cringe at her awful rapping, she is forgettable.
Unfortunately, she is heavily involved in the story and thus far I have seen her more times than I have ever wished to. I looked into her character, and if you want to know more, just look up Lil Tasty on YouTube. Apparently, it gets worse later on, so I am glad I stopped when I did.
In short sequence, you sign with a struggling agent who gave you his card at the Proving Grounds, try out for the team, go home to more of B’s awful rambling before being signed for the year by the team you selected. This was a huge missed opportunity to use the newly introduced two-way contracts to allow you to play in the G-League too, but I digress.
After a conversation between the agent and my character, which devolved into my character demanding the agent tell Nike, Adidas and the other brands that he was interested in them and acting like he was already a star player, I had to put the game down and take a break. Oh, how I miss the days of Pres and his likable personality.
I came back later and played a few games, enjoyed the gameplay, but with more obnoxious cutscenes, awful characters and terrible sound design, I have officially dropped MyCareer. I recommend you give it a shot, but it is not the most polished of game modes.
Also, apparently people were having issues with their save files being deleted on the console. This seems to have been fixed and 2k is helping people to recover what they lost. Which is ironic, because many people had the same problem last year, including myself, and once I mentioned it to the support team member I was talking to they just stopped responding altogether. Good on them for stepping up this time though.
I can’t give an accurate representation to MyTeam because I don’t play that mode, so hopefully, it is good.
MyGM is now in the MyCareer phase of development. I won’t spoil anything, but there is a rather interesting story and several cool interactions that go on in the update mode. I played through it as my hometown Oklahoma City Thunder and really enjoyed the choices I had to make. That and all of the new features really made me look forward to playing more.
After I got through with the season, halfway through the offseason the story resolves itself and the mode reverts to the standard, yet upgraded version of the same thing we got last year. This isn’t bad, but similarly to how most MyCareer stories only last through the first season, MyGM seems to be on that path now too.
This is also where I experienced several glitches that made my system crash or reset.
When trading during the draft, signing players from the G-League and other offseason tasks, I counted a total of 15 crashes in my four hours of play in the game mode. That’s far too many for a polished product, and seeing that at the time of writing this the patch notes are not yet revealed beyond helping with save loss, I am unsure if the issues are fixed yet.
MyLeague is typically my go-to mode to play, and with the new additions and lack of crashing, I can say it has been improved greatly. The only thing that bugs me is the animations, but that is throughout the game as a whole.
I will not go into gameplay issues, namely because they are similar to what happens every year. I will mention this though: Be wary when dribbling the ball in the post. It’s likely you will have the ball stolen due to bumping into an opposing player even slightly, no matter the level of your ball handling.
Overall, I am disappointed in the game. Not because I expected greatness, but because 2K17 was so much better than 2K16.
Ronnie2K, aka Ronnie Singh, the digital marketing director for 2K Sports and his team were hyping this game up to be the best yet. While the improvements to MyGM and MyLeague will keep me playing this version of the game rather than 2K17, MyCareer has lost me for the first time since it came out. No matter the patches, I won’t be returning to something so poorly put together.
The only thing I can hope for is that they keep innovating and next year’s story will be something much better.