It is that time of year. The NBA 2K season is upon us. One part that gets fans excited for the new NBA season is the introduction of the new NBA 2K game. While 2K has been the powerhouse for the basketball video game, NBA Live stepped it up with Live 18 and will look to do the same with Live 19. With both demos coming out this week, let’s take a look at each one so far.
Before we do that, here is a quick recap of 2K18 and Live 18.
2K18 made a big jump last year with the addition of The Neighborhood, a place for your created player to interact with other players and play pickup games on the court. It was a way to combine MyCareer, Park, and Pro-Am all in one. While all this was a big step in the world of video games there was one huge flaw in the game that everyone did not like…….microtransactions.
Microtransactions, or VC as they call, have been a part of the franchise since 2K13. This is used to upgrade your player from attributes to the outfits you can buy for your player. 2K18 seems to go a little crazy with this, going as far as using VC to change your guy’s hair. That and the expensive shoes you can get for your player (even if you are sponsored by that brand) led to a backlash from the community. 2K made some updates, like lowering the prices for haircuts and making your brand sponsored shoes free, although there are still some complaints in regard to pricing.
The NBA Live series had a bit of a rough patch during the 2010’s but took a step in the right direction last year. The career mode had something different, making your player take a part in off-court pickup leagues as well as going through an NBA season. There were no microtransactions, but instead, they incorporated in-game “loot boxes” after every few games. In the loot boxes, players can earn attribute upgrades as well as different gear for your player to wear in-game. Live 18 was also the first basketball video game to feature full WNBA rosters but they were only available in quick play games. Many believed the WNBA teams should have been used for a franchise or even create your own female player, but next year’s installment fixed that issue (more on that later.)
There were a lot of mixed reviews on Live 18, manly involving gameplay but many agreed that EA was moving in the right direction.
The 19 demos
Let’s start with Live 19. Right away you are jumped into a quick 3 on 3 games with you controlling the team of Allen Iverson, Vince Carter, and Shaquille O’Neal. This was a nice way to get used to the controls of the game. After that, you can create your player.
For a demo, I must say you can do quite a lot of different things here. You can play with a few NBA and WNBA teams, run some drills and even get a head start in ‘The One,’ Lives own version of MyCareer. You can also try a head start to upgrade your player before the full game comes out but it only goes to level 20. The best part? It looks like microtransactions will not be making an appearance here.
The gameplay looks smooth and each player has a good face scan into the game. From what I have seen so far in the demo, The One career mode looks simple and sometimes that is not a bad thing.
NBA 2K19’s demo called The Prelude takes place in China, where your created player is trying to chase his dream of making it to the NBA. 2K goes the route again with a nickname for your guy, being called “A.I.” After not getting picked in the draft, you head over the Shanghai Bears, a fictional team based in China. This is an interesting route to go with as we have not yet seen 2K go the international route for your guy. You have a translator with you at all times due to the language barrier which adds a nice touch of realism to the game.
To give a quick summary, you basically play a few games while in China, go up against a few of the NBA All-Stars and in the end, you travel back to Los Angeles. This was a nice cliffhanger leaving fans wanting to go out and buy the full game when it comes out. It is also noted that during your time in the prelude, you talk with your former teammate turned pro Corey Harris. From the cutscenes here, there is a little rivalry that goes on between the two of you, similar to what happened in 2K14.
Much like Live, 2K has smooth gameplay and the body types of players have improved since last year. The missing of layups is still a problem in 2K19 but we could see since a fix it that once the game is in full launch. Keep in mind that these are both just previews of the games so there is a good chance that there will be an improvement once you get your hands on the full retail game.
If I am being honest here, I am a little worried about 2K19. After the backlash of last years game, I should not be the only one. VC is still in the game and it looks to be as big of a part in the game as it was last year. You start out a 60 in the prelude and the max you jump up to is an 85, which can go for well over 100,000 VC. We won’t know for sure until the full game comes out on what the VC prices will be for haircuts, outfits etc. Let’s just hope it is not the same as last year.
Now the story on here is an interesting one going with the international route and assuming G-League from looking at past trailers. Coming from the trailer and prelude, it seems that we will have a lot of cutscenes and many different characters to talk with. No, it is not cringe-worthy like last year but you’ve got to sit back and think, Is 2K doing a little too much with these stories?
I sort of miss the old games where you did a few combine games, did some interviews with teams, got drafted and straight away you are playing games. Yeah, there was an endorsement cutscene here and there but they were so minimal that it was really no big deal. Now, it seems there are endless scenes and non-important lines in the game it can make the MyCareer journey stale. Cutscenes were such a problem that fans complained that you could not skip useless and over dragged scenes in 2K18. 2K even went out of its way to let the community know that you can skip the cutscenes from here. For me, if one of your main selling points is that you can skip a cutscene that I am sure the team worked hard to produce, is it even worth it?
NBA Live 19 seems to be bringing back that style. You are able to get drafted and play in the NBA but you could also take your talents off the court and play a few pickup games in different cities. There are minimal cutscenes here, with mainly the occasional updates from ESPN talking about what is next for your guy.
The NBA Live series has had its fair share of hiccups in the past, but I believe that Live finally got it right this year and maybe will eventually take over 2K as the top basketball video game. Is this the end of 2K? No. Far from it. I have been a fan of the franchise for a while now and seeing the rise of Live 19, 2K might start to feel the pressure as to make the perfect basketball simulation game.
Who doesn’t love a good competition between two brands with a goal to not only get better but also be at the top of their game?