Ever since 2K knocked Electronic Arts (EA) out of the box with its basketball sim, the 2K NBA franchise has gone from strength to strength.
This is true of NBA 2K19, which is the best in this series to date and the best basketball game available.
Although visually, mechanically and in offering depth of content, NBA 2K19 is a fantastic game, the fact that its publisher currently has the best game in town is both a blessing and a curse for players.
It feels fitting to start with the game’s presentation: NBA 2K19 looks stunning.
In fact, it looks so lifelike that someone wandering into a room in which it’s being played might be fooled for the first couple of minutes into thinking they’re watching a real-life game.
The soundtrack – squeaking sneakers, the roar of the crowd, the sound of a ball banking off the glass and the commentary – is superb and every player is minutely detailed right down to the beads of sweat.
Mechanically, the game is slick, pitching its difficulty at “challenging, but not overwhelming”. This means players can’t button-mash through it but it’s not as frustrating as previous entries in this franchise.
Not only does the on-the-court action feel fast and fluid, off-court menus are easy to navigate and online pickup games are a doddle.
The MyCareer mode – in which players take their own character from the doldrums to the big leagues – is easily one of the best single-player modes in a sports game, dishing drama, action, character growth and even the hint of a happy ending.
On top of that, players have the MyGM mode to dive into, where they manage an NBA franchise; season mode, franchise mode and basic exhibition games. There’s a practice hub where players can perfect their approaches on the court.
The “curse” NBA 2K19 players will have to deal with is in MyTeam mode, in which they’re tasked with creating the ultimate team using NBA legends from all eras.
The problem here is that the mode is riddled with microtransactions, which for a game that’s asking full price at retail, feels more than a little cheeky.