Sunday, September 09, 2018

"NBA 2K19" Review

Visual Concepts keeps managing to push the "NBA 2K" franchise to new heights because it never seems content to rest on its past triumphs, always pushing toward the next frontier by hitting the figurative open gym to refine what it does well and reinvent its few flaws.

"NBA 2K19" is the latest example of what such tireless work can yield. It's a sports game that transcends the appeal of the NBA itself, recognizing what it is that makes the league so appealing and synthesizing its essence to craft a fast-paced, 1980s Showtime Lakers-caliber experience.

New this year is a Takeover feature, which replicates that tough-to-define feel when a superstar player ratchets up his play to the next level, becoming a formidable force that draws all attention on the court and in the stands.

Somewhat akin to the "on fire" power up from "NBA Jam," the star metaphorically glows with upgraded attributes, moving with an extra step exemplified in special animations, draining shots with more accuracy, wrestling away rebounds and steals and zinging passes with thunderous crispness. It's all the opposition can do to adjust and weather the storm.

The ever-popular MyCareer mode has struggled in recent years with hit-or-miss narrative campaigns, but this year's "The Way Back" story is an upswing. A well-written and acted tale of redemption, the story keeps you engaged and allows you to skip cut scenes if you want to move things along even quicker.

As a franchise mode, MyLeague Online has long rivaled that of "Madden" for superiority, and ups the ante this year with an imersive, full-featured offseason crammed with unexpected storylines and intrigue that mirrors that of the league in real life. "The Saga Continues" also allows you to play out a storyline campaign.

On the court, the action is barely distinguishable from that of the past couple stellar years. Tighter animations, more realistic ball physics and an amped-up broadcast presentation are the most distinguished upgrades.

Taken as a whole, "NBA 2K19" is a robust, full-featured upgrade that makes a strong case for yet another upgrade for superfans and casual NBA dabblers alike.
Publisher provided review copy.

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