Every year it gets better, and every year the devs at Visual Concepts are taking notes to see what they missed in previous installments to hit marks in the new ones. This year means enhanced gameplay with more realistic bounces, smarter AIs, and a cinematic prelude that’s both interesting and charming.
The problem I had in last year’s 2K18 had a lot to do with the inconsistency of shots despite the stats, the annoying AIs that shoots whenever passed to (a.k.a Shammy) or, how easy it was to hack in through a pick and roll, and let’s not forget the unnecessary cut scenes and an unlikeable protagonist during MyPlayer mode.
MyPlayer and MyGM
MyPlayer is the 2K19’s driving game mode, other than MyGM. The prelude, special to 2K19, is made to be more cinematic and captivating than any other storyline in the franchise.
Young player, AI is fresh from college, he gets snubbed during draft pick to open the story. Throughout, he learns from the people and rivals he meets, he begins a path to rediscovery and redemption to finally make it as an NBA Player. The story is a testimony to the many young players dreaming and trying to make their way up in a highly competitive industry.
What was special about the story was how initial games are played in China. The Chinese league is featured as games are also played through Chinese commentary. Shout outs to the legendary Yao Ming are constantly made while giving attention to an entire basketball culture outside of the West.
As the story goes on, there becomes a build on AI that had lacked entirely on 2K18’s DJ. AI did not become unlikable and unbelievably egotistic, instead, he became someone we could all resonate with. Most importantly for me, is that after the prelude, it becomes straight ball games with cutscenes featuring other players instead of putting the focus back on AI. 2K18’s direction to DJ and his unnecessary friends were confusing and sometimes plain annoying, which I was obviously glad to have rid of coming into 2K19.
MyNeigborhood is revamped into something that’s larger yet more accessible. It definitely makes it easier to get from one end to the other, and the daily games (PS Plus members only) add to the community developed online.
2K19 is still filled with microtransactions and the requirement to grind your player is still a must. However, I found this to be more generous in their VC giving than previous installments, as bonuses are frequently made.
I think that grinding is half the fun anyway and it’s always worth to see how a player starts from someone who can’t handle the ball well to someone being able to steal from the likes of James Harden.
Meanwhile, MyGM is an entirely different experience and where all my criticisms remain. The new MyGM storyline is a huge step back if you’re just coming off MyPlayer. It’s word heavy, like a long and boring visual novel.
You start off excitedly, to create your own League, design its shirts, then craft a team and its players than to see them play with the regular teams in the season. But then you start to get excessively bored at the amount of conversation characters needed to have. Over time, I just wished I could skip everything and went straight to GM options. The boring storyline completely overshadows the full GM control and capabilities presented early on. But, at least I could start a new game to play the traditional format setting of MyGM.
On the Court
The gameplay is enhanced with better performing AIs and a realistic bounce on the ball. The passes, as well as the shots falling more consistently for both the player used and the computer.
When I began, I played with the Lakers to hang out with one of NBA2K19’s cover guys, Lebron James. Naturally, the instinct is to give the ball to James as frequently open as he could get. This may have worked before with passes coming off easily during picks despite smothering defenses, but not this one. Opponent AIs are smarter at creating and following plays, while teammates don’t make the rash and awkward covered jump shots.
However, despite the smooth run and attention to detail, I have experienced some dropped frame rates almost every tip-off. It doesn’t bother much, but the small glitch can sometimes carry over.
What changes or improvements I would probably love to see is a more flexible MyNeighborhood. It needs to start containing something that does not require microtranscations in an already “microtransacked” industry.
Disclosure: This review is based on a review code provided by 2K Games. Read our review policy to know how we go with our game reviews.