The Switch version of NBA 2K18 is rough around the edges, but the strong collection of core modes that make the game a perennial contender from sports game of the year are all here. Despite the drop in graphical fidelity, connectivity headaches when in handheld mode, and barren online modes, you’ll have a hard time finding a better basketball sim experience.
Basketball is a way of life, and each year, NBA 2K is a big part of that cultural movement. Real NBA players worry about their NBA 2K ratings. This year's entry is incredible in so many ways, from graphics, to soundtrack, to the different modes and ways to play hoops. It becomes clear early on that the fastest and easiest way to progress is by spending real money, slightly marring an otherwise tremendous experience.
It’s too bad, then, that The Neighborhood is covered in ads and persistent microtransaction begging. The growing push to spend real dollars on VC impacts those looking to build even the most basic of player avatars. It’s too much in NBA 2K18, holding back nearly every mode and customization option. VC is an unavoidable truth. But on the court — especially in the excellent franchise mode, free from the grasp of microtransactions — NBA 2K18 lives up to its predecessors and at times even bests them.
NBA 2K18 is once again king of the court, proving why the series has managed to remain so superior in recent years. While not each of the updates to the signature modes prove to be as beneficial as intended, the ones that do work, particularly in MyCareer, are further boosted by rock-solid gameplay and a presentation unrivaled within the genre.
NBA 2K18 is another step forward on the court, improving on the series’ already great gameplay. You’re rewarded for smart, controlled basketball when dribbling, driving, and playing defense in ways that make sense for the players you’re controlling. In the side modes, results are mixed: the new fusion of Career mode elements into The Neighborhood gives it some new life, but the same can’t be said for the meaningless story elements within MyGM, and microtransactions now have too much of an impact on gameplay. There’s far more good than bad, though, and NBA 2K18 deserves credit for taking chances.
NBA 2K18 is very likely the best basketball game ever made and a template in how to approach a sports sim on nearly every level.
Not all the shots NBA 2K18 takes are swishes, but its shooting percentage is high enough to once again recommend you step on the hardcourt. The deep MyGM, MyCareer, and MyTeam modes offer hundreds of hours of compelling play, and the on-court action is once again stellar. Once the servers stabilize and Visual Concepts patches in some easily correctible fixes, NBA 2K18 should once again be in pole position for sports game of the year.