NBA 2K18 Review

Richard Walker

NBA 2K has come to represent the pinnacle of sports games, each and every year, Visual Concepts managing to top what came the year before. It's fairly unprecedented for a such a high bar to be maintained for so long, and (if you haven't already figured it out), NBA 2K18 is the best yet. Again. Even in spite of the recent controversy surrounding the game's microtransactions, NBA 2K18 is still another brilliant basketball game, that builds upon previous years with an even more accomplished experience.

MyCareer is the lynchpin mode in NBA 2K once more, with another enjoyable yarn in which your created MyPlayer 'DJ' goes from complete obscurity to playing on the Proving Grounds in order to earn a shot at a career in the NBA. If you make it (and, spoiler alert, you will), you'll be signed to your favourite team, then try to carve yourself out something resembling a career. Stepping up to gain the respect of your teammates (and a security guard, for some reason) is the ultimate goal, as you embark upon a journey -'Road to 99' - to upgrade your player to a 99 rating. It remains good, clean fun.

“What's that about the Earth being round?!” said Kyrie in his old jersey.

Purchasing said upgrades to boost stats in all areas of your game costs VC (Virtual Currency), and although you can earn plenty of VC in-game, it's a long old grind to reach a level where you can actually compete effectively on the court. You can see why some have felt a bit put out by the over-reliance on VC in MyCareer, but then, practically every recent NBA 2K game has done the same thing. There just hasn't been quite as much of an apparent onus on it as there is in NBA 2K18. Still, it does little to tarnish what is otherwise an involving and enjoyable career mode.

Bringing everything together into 'The Neighborhood' social space lends MyCareer a greater sense of cohesion too, the game's streetball playgrounds, various stores for customisation items, the Training Facility, Pro-Am Team Arena and your MyCourt all brought together in one place. Progression feels more rewarding too, with constant levelling up after each game all tied into earning badges and other accolades. DJ's rise is played with charm and a light touch too, the story a simple, sometimes humorous 'scrappy underdog done good' type affair.

Outside of MyCareer, you'll find NBA 2K's staple MyTeam and MyGM/MyLeague modes, the former enabling you to build your very own franchise, assembling your dream team by acquiring card packs and completing challenges in the usual fashion. The latter, meanwhile, takes in every facet of managing a team or competing in a league, as the mode's name suggests. If you've played any past NBA 2K games, you'll know exactly what to expect. MyGM is another story-driven mode in which your NBA career ends with a debilitating injury, prompting a new career as GM for 'MyGM: The Next Chapter'. What follows is a deep, detailed simulation of managing a franchise.

MyGM isn't quite as engaging as MyCareer, playing almost like an RPG of sorts, though it has its own qualities that make it a compelling experience. It's MyCareer that you'll probably gravitate to more, however, even if the need for vast quantities of VC puts a dampener on things. There are plenty of ways to earn VC, whether it's through achieving certain objectives on the hardwood, or by competing in The Venue, messing about in the 2K Zone and in blacktop events. But it's on the court that NBA 2K18 truly shines, providing another year of unmatched brilliance in the gameplay department, getting about as close to playing basketball as you can without lacing up your kicks and going out to play a game for real.

The whole thing still feels remarkably intuitive, building upon the lofty standard set by 2K17 with even smoother animation, even more realistic (and less zombie-like) player likenesses, improved presentation, the same great commentary and arena atmosphere. This is the primary reason to get involved with NBA 2K18; there are few sports games that are as complete and polished, delivering in almost every conceivable area. It's just a shame that the in-game currency is such an all-pervading aspect of MyCareer and MyTeam, demanding that you really grind it out to make any kind of meaningful progression. 2K might do well to rein it in next year.

You'll have all sorts of problems to contend with in MyGM.

It's almost poetic that reaching a 90 OVR stat with your MyPlayer grants an achievement called 'Grindin' Away'. Truly, it is a grind. You'll also spend VC on cosmetic items for DJ (that now thankfully cost much less), which in turn grants a number of achievements, like getting a haircut and tattoo, while there's a spread of tasks to complete across every mode. Another solid achievement list that encompasses every little bit of NBA 2K18 while hitting all of the right notes, this ties into the long and short-term game, but you'll need to invest a lot of time if you want to reach 1000G. A tough, but decent list.

Dabbling in online games is also covered in the list, and the games we played were unfortunately plagued with quite a lot of lag. Connecting and matchmaking doesn't seem to be an issue, but once you're on the court, the action can be rather juddery when playing online, dropping frames and making for a pretty difficult experience. You're better off playing with friends on your MyCourt or in a MyPark street game if you can rally them to join you in an online match-up.

If not, NBA 2K18 is still stuffed with things to do. You could only ever play MyCareer and MyTeam and not feel shortchanged. Doing so will require grinding out currency to spend on every aspect, and it's a bit of a blot on what is otherwise a brilliantly orchestrated basketball game that continues to excel as an indispensable sports title. NBA 2K18 is excellent, but next year's instalment really ought to dial down the microtransactions, unless it wants to end up permanently alienating its audience.

NBA 2K18

NBA 2K18 is yet another astonishingly good basketball game that delivers on the hardwood and in the suite of inviting modes on offer. Resist the urge to shell out for Virtual Currency and you'll be fine. Just focus on the great game at NBA 2K18's core, because it really is at its best this year.

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Hip-hop hooray! 2K18 has got some great tunes on its soundtrack, while the commentary remains stellar and the arena atmosphere is brilliantly replicated.


The animation has been improved, while players look less like the undead, which is a win. There are still one or two bugs here and there, but overall, NBA 2K18 is a great looking game.


The Pro Stick is still excellent, making for a wonderfully slick and fluid game of basketball. Simple to pick up and play, NBA 2K18 takes time to master, but it's rewarding and more than worth it.


The Neighborhood brings everything together in one place that you're free to roam as MyCareer's DJ, visiting stores, gyms, street courts and such, which is great. It's the apparently increased emphasis on VC microtransactions that sucks, but everything else is genuinely superb.


You're in for a bit of a grind with some of the tasks on the list here, but there's still a nigh-on perfect spread across all of NBA 2K18's modes and on-court action. A nice, well thought out list.

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