This is not a review of NBA 2K18 for the Nintendo Switch. The game has been out for a week, and for a working parent who is also playing Destiny 2, there just isn’t enough time to really put a game like NBA 2K through the paces.
In many ways, this year’s game is a continuation of the great gameplay and systems behind this generation’s 2K efforts.
NBA 2K18 offers a deep career mode experience that ties into online streetball play and its popular pro-am mode. This behemoth of a mode could easily occupy players for upwards of 50 or 100 hours, as they grind (or pay) their way through a career in the NBA, or on the streets.
Pivoting another direction, you’ve got the returning MyGM mode, which has typically been my preferred way to play 2K. I love taking control of a moribund franchise — in recent years, this has meant my favorite team in Minnesota — and leading them to the promised land. This year, I’m still taking the Wolves, but much of the work in building a successful team has already been made. The big change to MyGM this year is the addition of a story for your created general manager, who is a former NBA player thrust into a new role. I’ve not gotten far enough into the mode to discover the story stuff, but 2K offers a robust franchise mode that remains intact.
If you prefer to kick the story stuff to the sideline, you can start up a MyLeague, which is a fully customizable franchise mode. If you want to match up all of the all-time teams in the game for a season, this is your mode. Get rid of divisions, or add expansion teams. Play 82 games or 29? It’s your league, and it’s darned good.
Finally you have the MyTeam mode, which is packed with single player challenges to get you into the game, and includes a variety of multiplayer modes designed to test your mettle against other 2K players.
Each of these modes offers dozens of hours of gameplay on their own. There are nitpicks to each mode, and some large issues surrounding Virtual Currency. The release of 2K has been riddled with bugs that have led to some people losing their progress and their very real currency. The storyline in career mode and GM mode is cheesy — especially when compared to the story modes in Madden and FIFA. I also prefer the structure of single player career mode in NBA Live 18.
Let’s stay with the bad on the Switch version of the game: The audio is downright goofy at times. The announcers are too quiet in-game, and some of the audio gets fuzzy or drops during pregame and other cutscenes. Worse, I’ve notice a slight but very real input lag while playing the game, which makes pulling off in-depth dribble moves and pulling up for jumpers a difficult proposition.
And yet? NBA 2K18 is a good game, potentially even great if a couple issues can get ironed out.
On the court, I absolutely love playing this game. Introduced in 2K16, the franchise’s freelance offenses help the game feel like watching an actual game, as players move around the court, set screens and work to get open. The options at your disposal — choosing when players switch on screens and how closely they guard opposing players — allow you to really choose how you want your team to play.
As I adjust to a 30fps frame rate — down from 60 on the PS4 — I’m still working on shot timing. In the meantime, I’ve worked a ton on my post game. While this becomes a bit easier with the likes of Karl-Anthony Towns on my team, I’ve grown to love the post play in 2K18 possibly more than any other year. Once I get my shot timing town, I’ll feel nearly unstoppable.
The MyTeam Mode is slick, and I am loving building up my team. The excitement of pulling a Towns card off the deck — when my other center is Thon Maker — is real. I have run into some lag when playing MyTeam online, but I expect it to improve.
And the game on the Switch just plain looks good. It isn’t quite as sharp as on the more powerful consoles, and the frame rate definitely takes some adjustment, but it still looks good. And the ability to take my GM Mode outside onto my deck? It still blows my mind.
This isn’t meant to be a definitive look at NBA 2K18. I’ve not played enough yet to put my stamp on it. But, from what I have played, it is an absolutely worthy basketball game on the Nintendo console, and is still far ahead of NBA Live overall. As it stands today, if I had to rate it, I’d give 2K18 an 80/100. If you’re asking me in a few weeks, after (hopefully) the input lag is fixed, that rating will shoot up. The input lag is a real issue that needs to be addressed, but doesn’t ruin the game.
Are you playing NBA 2K18? On the Switch or elsewhere? Comment below on what your thoughts are on the game this year.