NBA 2K18 – Nintendo Switch Review
It’s been five years since Nintendo fans have had an officially licensed ‘serious’ basketball game, the last being Wii U launch title NBA 2K13. 2K Sports’ initial support for the Wii U quickly simmered and the studio decided to focus its efforts on other formats, meaning its day one NBA 2K offering ended up being the only taste of slam dunkery Nintendo’s system received.
A lot has changed since then, however, and now 2K Sports is back for another crack at the Nintendo market. WWE 2K18’s due soon but before that we have the latest NBA 2K entry. And while it’s taken a while to get there, we’re finally happy with the results. NBA 2K18 easily provides the greatest basketball experience we’ve ever seen on a Nintendo system (yes, that even includes Mario Slam Basketball). The sheer attention to detail here is sensational.
Those familiar with the NBA 2K series will already be familiar with the sort of things we’re referring to, but those new to it will discover a level of presentation that eclipses every other sports game, FIFA included. Matches open with a (skippable) pre-game show hosted by a three-man panel, with countless pre-recorded chats that all sound genuine and not just read from a script. They’ll crack jokes, interrupt each other and generally act exactly like they would on the sort of real-life broadcast you’d expect to see on ABC or ESPN.
After this it’s down to courtside where you’ll be treated to one of a selection of pre-game routines. Sometimes you’ll see video footage of the city hosting the game, other times you’ll catch the end of the national anthem being sung, or maybe you’ll see the team mascot firing t-shirts into the crowd. This is all supported with the full TV broadcast experience with a full commentary team, sideline reporters, realistic TV-style camera angles, the whole nine yards. Those familiar with sports games may think we’re overreacting by listing all of this but until you’ve played a recent NBA 2K you can’t really appreciate just how incredibly authentic the entire thing feels before the tip-off even begins.
Once the action actually starts, controlling your team is a breeze regardless of your skill level. There’s great depth to the various types of shot, pass and tactical call you can call upon at any time, but how much you want to delve into that is entirely up to you. This game gives you the luxury of as much or as little control of the intricacies of basketball as you feel comfortable with. If you’re a relative novice and just want to go with the basic ‘B to pass, Y to shoot, A to steal’ controls, you’re more than welcome to. Things get significantly more complicated once you involve the shoulder buttons and the right stick – but you can happily play and win without ever having to worry about them.
For those who took our previous advice to hold fire until we were happy the game wasn’t a broken mess, you can finally pull the trigger: NBA 2K18 may not have been a great sports game at launch, but it’s certainly one now. This is effortlessly the best basketball game we’ve seen on a Nintendo system in years, and a must-have for Switch-owning sports fans.