|Release Date||September 6, 2019|
*A copy of this game was provided to FYIG by 2K Games for review purposes*
I’ve been playing the NBA 2K series on and off for years despite not being a huge basketball fan in life. I’m a pretty big sports gamer after all, and I really like to play a lot of different types of sports games as much as possible. The NBA 2K series has come a long way from that first iteration on the Dreamcast to the juggernaut it has become now, but in that has become the subject of some criticism for the way the game is monetized with microtransactions at every turn. This year, that’s something that may be more pronounced than ever despite the fantastic foundation on the court.
The first place beginners will want to start in would be the redesigned 2KU that helps players get adjusted to the basics of the game. It’s a very similar style to the tutorials in EA’s NHL series as the controller on-screen mimics the movements that you need to make to pull off each move. Once you pull off a move, you can go at your own pace and the whole tutorial can be done in about an hour or less. I felt like this was a pretty good way of getting to know the game without being too monotonous.
I started noticing how different players feel compared to one another as I started to play a few Play Now games. The difference between elite NBA talent and players coming off the bench is pretty easy to notice. Driving to the net with LeBron is a breeze while taking a 75 overall player to the net ends with getting the ball stuffed back in your face more often than not. Of course, driving in for the layup isn’t always a sure thing thanks to the new defensive AI which seems a lot more intuitive than ever before. You really have to analyze the situation quickly to know whether you should lay back for a jumper or go in for a big dunk. Think too long and the defensive team will end up snatching that ball away or forcing you to make a bad play. I was really impressed with how well the defensive AI played, they gave me much more of a challenge than previous years.
The upgraded ball-handling system does help you on the offensive side of the ball. I felt like I was much more in control of the ball in this year’s game. It wasn’t a random animation taking over and screwing me up mid-play, I had full control over what I was doing whether it was a crossover or simply switching the ball to my other hand. It was all seamless and fluid as it should be. Even the dribbling animations have been updated to make things look a little bit better as your players are charging down the court.
Beyond the actual on the court improvements, the badge system furthers along the differences between good players and great players. These badges are unique abilities that you can put on a player to make him better in a certain situation. “Pogo Stick” for example makes it easier to regroup after a blocked shot. There are around 80 of these badges in the game and they can really change the course of a game, especially if there are a lot of players with these badges equipped playing in the same game. It breaks up the same old gameplay with some surprises here and there which is always nice in a sports game where you’re playing essentially the same thing over and over.
The WNBA makes its way into the game this year with an entirely unique commentary team of Blake Suniga, Tim Swartz, and Brian Banifatemi which is a nice touch, but a step below what I’ve come to expect. It’s definitely cool to get to play as the women and I feel like this league should have been better represented years ago in these games, but at least they’re finally here now. You can play a full WNBA season, but unfortunately, you can’t it online which is a puzzling omission. I mean, why restrict that? I hate seeing something new unavailable in certain modes, it defeats the purpose entirely.
I’m not going to say too much about MyLeague since it didn’t receive many improvements this year. You can force wins and losses now so, yay? On the plus side, no microtransactions are to be found there, but that’s about the only place.
MyTeam is a buffet of content which is both a good and bad thing. Like EA’s Ultimate Team, there are endless sets of things to do and, conversely, endless sets of things to spend money on. You start out with bottom of the lineup guys and your goal is to upgrade them by completing various tasks. Of course, you’ll be grinding forever to get a good player so it’s much easier to spend $5-$10 to try and get someone good. The worst part about that is you’re not guaranteed anything. You could spend $100 and not get anyone that great. The UI is even designed like a casino with a roulette wheel. Now, I’ve played modes like this many times, but this game really seems to lean on paying for success more than that found in EA’s offerings IN MY OPINION.
As much as I wasn’t interested in MyTeam this year, I freaking loved MyCareer. This year’s story is called, “When The Lights Are Brightest”. When I first started seeing these stories show up in games like FIFA, Madden, and NBA 2K, I was annoyed. I just wanted a career mode, to be the best player, but I’ve since changed my tune playing through stories like these. They offer more substance and don’t overstay their welcome. This year there’s a brand new create-a-player feature that offers endless possibilities on how your player looks and what type of player they’ll be. It might be the first time that I create more than one player just for sheer variety. The badge system even makes its way over from the other game modes.
The story starts with your character Che as he sits out of his final collegiate game after his friend is stripped of his scholarship due to a season-ending injury. This affects the relationships around him and his career as a whole. Idris Elba and Rosario Dawson headline a great voice cast in this year’s mode. It didn’t feel as campy as some of these modes do and I really started to care about these characters as time went on. It’s a pretty cinematic experience that is done in about 5-7 hours, but I really enjoyed my time with it. You even get to participate in NBA Draft Combine drills and team workouts before the draft. MyCareer was about as perfect as it could be this year for me. There are microtransactions in this mode as well which is tough to swallow considering I don’t see the need for them, but they’re there. It’s sad that even in a cinematic mode like this, 2K is trying to get us to part with our money.
I liked playing NBA 2K20 online because it felt pretty realistic and less arcadey than some sports games do online. I didn’t have too much lag or any disconnects, but I was having problems trying to play certain parts of MyTeam. Some parts would play no problem, others would say that I couldn’t connect to 2K servers despite being connected to the servers. These issues will likely be ironed out, but until then, your mileage may vary.
|Every player feels unique||Endless microtransactions|
|MyCareer is fantastic/CAP is robust||No WNBA online|
|No huge leaps forward|