Outstanding graphics as you hoop it up as your favorite player in this classic game
NBA 2K18 is possibly the best entry in the franchise, and recent changes to the formula ensure that this new version of the stalwart basketball simulation franchise is more than just a minor iteration of the existing formula. After all, this series has seen steady yearly releases since 1999, and it can often feel like each release is just the same version of the same old game with a little bit of a spit shine and a newly adjusted roster. But that would be doing 2K18 a disservice. A lot of effort has been put into making this feel like the most realistic depiction of the game around, and the care that the development team has put into it is clear and present from the first frame.
What's particularly interesting about this latest version of the franchise is the focus it puts on the entire experience of being a professional baller, both on and off the court. Basketball players aren't just athletes. They're larger than life celebrities with an aura of excellence even outside of the game, and the career mode gives you the opportunity to live out the dream life. The MyStory mode is a surprisingly gripping narrative that starts you off as a small time baller operating in street courts and has you ascend to a position where you're commanding the attention of thousands. It may not be the main event, but it's a gripping means of keeping the player interested even when they aren't engaged in court battles with their friends in online multiplayer.
None of this would matter much if the actual gameplay wasn't up to snuff, but 2K18 does an especially good job of capturing the weight of the game. While this isn't a full contact sport like football, it is a game of bodies smashing bodies, of checks and fouls and tactical but visceral acrobatics. Every shot you make feels real, and that means every miss feels like a strategic misstep on the part of the player, and every sunk basket feels like a won victory. The artificial intelligence is similarly realistic. While switching between players to keep your momentum going is a critical aspect of any win, you can expect your AI teammates to react responsively to your movements on the court. This applies to the opposing team as well. You have to play smart to push to the basket or make a successful steal.
If there's any black mark on the game's accolades, it's the increased reliance on microtransactions. Ads litter the single player experience, and there's the constant pressure to invest real money to create the avatar you're looking for. Luckily, this problem doesn't persist throughout the multiplayer experience, and these in-game purchases don't affect the actual gameplay in any meaningful way.