NBA 2K19


Brody Conaty

Aaron Gordon and Jayson Tatum battling for post position in NBA 2K19

Brody Conaty, Opinion Editor

     As the month of September comes up, there is only a month away from the much anticipated 2018-2019 NBA season. Fans worldwide are craving the sport of basketball and are counting down the days until they will get to see their favorite players back in action. For many fans, those craving are filled by the September released game, NBA 2K. 2K has dominated the sports video game market over the past decade and a half, as they have created a monopoly in the NBA video game industry. However,, sales in recent years have gone down due to deterioration in game quality. NBA 2K19 was a step up from NBA 2K18, but it was not the best the game has released.

    To begin, the most important part of any sports video game is the actual gameplay. Companies can add any game mode or small component to a game that you want, but if the gameplay is subpar, it will be a failure in the eyes of the fans. NBA 2K19’s gameplay was a substantial step up from NBA 2K18. In 2K18, blowing by a player, or charging past them to the basket, was seemingly unstoppable for the defender no matter how good that player was. This was the biggest flaw in a completely atrocious defense system that was implemented in NBA 2K18. This area is where the biggest improvement was made. In NBA 2K19, blow by’s are virtually impossible and the defensive side of the game seems much smoother and a lot more realistic.

     Although it was a much needed improvement, many fans of the game have been expressing their complaints that the defense is “too overpowered” on Twitter and various blogs. Many claim that since it is only a video game, it should not be realistic to the point that it feels like it is impossible to get open shots or make contested ones. There is a fine line between “too much” and “not enough,” and even though 2K has seemed to cross that “too much” line, the defense is still significantly improved.

    Another component that made the defensive system in NBA 2K18 almost unplayable was the annoying, forced animations that would be brought upon players constantly. Animations are preset recordings of what players do that get brought into the game at times when the action involved in the animation is being triggered. For example, if a player went up for a contested layup, the game would take control of the player with the ball as well as  the player contesting the shot into a preset animation. This took user skill out of the game and made important parts of the game based entirely off of coding and luck.. This was beyond aggravating and made the defense in NBA 2K18, and previous NBA games almost unplayable.

     In 2K19, two seperate things were added to fix this problem. The first was a brand new, never before seen layup bar. Now when players go up for contested layups, a bar appears above their shooters head. Pressing the square button as their player jumps for the basket, the bar begins to fill up in white. It is the players goal to release the square button as the white reaches the top of the bar, giving them a better chance at landing the shot. This makes layups more skill based, meaning the more skilled the player holding the remote is, the better chance at success. The other solution used to enhance the animation problem was simply eliminating certain animations. Although there are still some animations, they are more realistic and do not usually result in game changing plays.

      A third big fix in gameplay made in 2K19 over past 2K games was the graphics and visuals. Players in NBA 2K19 look more like they do in real life with updated tattoos, haircuts, and body sizes. The lighting in 2K19 also makes the players look more believable as can see arena lights reflecting off the players naturally. The lighting has always been an issue for 2K in past years, so fixing it this year was important.

    Game modes are also a vital factor in creating a superior sports video game. NBA 2K has been the pioneer in the “career” mode for all other video games. It’s game mode “MyPlayer” is always highly anticipated year in and year out. Career modes allow players to create their own athlete how they want and guide them throughout their sporting careers. 2K’s “MyPlayer” mode has downgraded year after year, which is taking away from it’s previous glory from 2010-2014. NBA 2K18 had one of the worst career modes in sports game history. The story mold your player was forced into, being a streetballer and working his way to the league, was not only completely unrealistic but it was also extremely annoying for players as streetball references were brought up constantly in cutscenes. In NBA 2K19, the story was improved by making it more like real life, but still a little unbelievable. Your player went to China to play, since he was not good enough to play in the NBA out of college, worked his way into the G League (the developmental league for the NBA), and was pulled up into the NBA. Many players take this route in today’s NBA, but here is the catch: all three happened in a single season. The odds of that happening are slim to none, which makes player wish for more from a game that is supposed to be real life based.

     Additional complaints about the MyCareer mode is the online purchase necessary for success. Starting out as a “60” overall, your player is completely horrendous at the sport of basketball. This makes it completely impossible to compete against other peoples “MyPlayer’s” that are ranked in the 80s and 90s who got their high ranking by making large in game purchases. This makes online purchases a requirement if you wish to be competitive in Pro AM and Park (The places “MyPlayers” go against each other head to head). It is a cheap way of 2K getting more money and it is inconsiderate to those loyal fans that just want to grind out their players instead of dropping hundreds of dollars on improving their virtual players skills. This has been an issue over the past two NBA 2K games and it is insulting that it has not been fixed for the betterment of the fans.

    The most consistent game mode in 2K’s illustrious history has been its MyGM mode. This mode has the same principles as MyPlayer (complete control), except in this mode players create a general manager and take over an NBA team to lead them to glory. This game mode has improved on its already great features. In this year’s MyGM, player mentorships were added. This means you can assign a veteran player to mentor a younger player, helping the younger player become better in the future. Although this does not seem like much, it is big for NBA fans that want the MyGM mode as realistic as possible. Mentorships in today’s NBA are common and it is a big plus that they were finally added into 2K.

    There is also a story mode in MyGM, like MyPlayer. For some, the story is boring and a waste of time, and they would rather just focus on building their roster for their franchise. Some people enjoy the story as it gives insight on what it is really like to run an NBA franchise. The good news is the story mode is optional in this years 2K, unlike 2K18. This gives players the choice on how they want to play instead of forcing them to fit into a mold created for everyone.

    Overall, NBA 2K19 was a step forward for the franchise. The game is much better than the likes of 2K17 and 2K18, which is showing a promising future for the series. Although there was improvements, there is still a lot of fixing, especially in the MyPlayer mode, to bring the game back to its glory of 2K10 through 2K16.