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NBA 2K19’s MyCareer Shows a Studio Unwilling to Change

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Last year, the NBA 2K team put in one of its worst efforts with the MyCareer story mode, thanks to the terrible story of a former basketball champion returning to the sport after a short career as a DJ. This was compounded by 2K’s decision to turn player development into a money-making program, placing microtransactions everywhere in a game you’ve already paid a significant amount of money for. It was disastrous to say the least and set a new nadir for the franchise, just two years after Spike Lee’s very restrictive storytelling. NBA 2K set the bar so low that anything it did next year would surpass it. Fortunately, NBA 2K19 does a little more than that.

On the one hand, NBA 2K19’s new MyCareer has a much better story. You play as a college star – nicknamed AI – who fails to get selected in an NBA draft and then ends up in China to play for the fictional Shanghai Bears team. It’s a new, unexpected, shocking and even disorienting idea, with the coach’s instructions and comments all in Mandarin. As long as you have a translator for the former, you just have to live with the latter. It really makes you feel uncomfortable, which is probably what 2K is going for. We loved it so much that we wish EA Sports would pick up this aspect for FIFA’s next foray with The Journey, given the global popularity of the game and sport, and finish its story this year.

Additionally, NBA 2K19’s writers not only acknowledge the character’s flaws – instead of ignoring them like NBA 2K18 did – but they also use them to craft a meaningful narrative. The protagonist longs to return to the NBA as soon as possible, feels short of effort, and believes he deserves better. In short, he’s a little full of himself. This is a dangerous attitude for a beginner and the opening hours of the game make this clear. After a few games with the Shanghai Bears, NBA 2K19’s MyCareer pits you against the NBA All-Stars as part of their world tour. AI thinks this is its chance to impress the American scouts and the game even gives you a scripted moment where you dunk on a former college teammate, which quickly becomes a viral music video.

The next day, your Chinese coach informs you that you are being traded and one cutscene later, you are back in Los Angeles and heading to the home of the Lakers. Everything seems to have worked out like magic for AI despite his attitude, but it’s not until he arrives at the training center that he realizes he’s been traded to AI. South Bay The Lakers – they play in the minor NBA G League – not the Los Angeles Lakers. And before your character has even fully accepted the reality of the situation, he’s been swapped Again to another G League team called the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in rural Indiana. The quick double whammy really lets you feel the consequences of the AI ​​thinking it deserves better, even if the execution could have used a bit of polish.

Along the way, NBA 2K19’s MyCareer introduces a bunch of new characters, some intriguing, some goofy, and some forgettable. Anthony Mackie (Avengers: Infinity War) appears from time to time as a mysterious NBA scout who stalks the AI, Aldis Hodge (Straight Outta Compton) plays that aforementioned former college teammate who tells the AI ​​to keep its head in the game, Michael Rapaport (True Romance) plays the coach of the Lakers while Rob Huebel (Transparent) plays the coach of the Mad Ants, Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense) plays a social media influencer from Fort Wayne who promises to making you a viral star, and Ricky Whittle (American Gods) is an NBA veteran who now plays with the Mad Ants. Their combined acting talents help make the game feel lived-in, but recurring 2K issues get in the way.

Unlike EA Sports’ story-driven efforts, where the narrative is deeply intertwined with your entire playtime, 2K has primarily opted for a more open-ended approach that begins with a preamble chapter titled “The Prelude” which details your player’s signing years ago. it lands in the NBA and then leaves you there, with minimal interruptions afterward. And because it tries to convey the essence of its story from the start, MyCareer’s first few hours in NBA 2K19 feature unplayable vignettes that sometimes last more than 10 minutes. It’s almost like watching a TV show where you can play at moments in between. The game would be much better if its Shanghai-Los Angeles-Indiana journey took place over a few fully playable seasons.

But that’s not the case and everything seems rushed. You’re pitted against the NBA All-Stars two games in China as a 60-rated player, and you’re asked to beat them and get a B performance rating. This scripted dunk moment also doesn’t take into account user customizations, which became even more unrealistic for us given that our player’s dunk values ​​were the lowest of the lot due to the chosen height, strength, and wingspan. It’s only once you arrive in Fort Wayne that NBA 2K19’s MyCareer finally slows down a notch and the AI ​​gets a run of games, in addition to sketching out promising new side story arcs, the one of them being a potential romantic relationship.

Unfortunately, they don’t get the right treatment since the game has to push you into the NBA, which it also scripts in the most absurd way. After being kicked out of Mad Ants for being involved in a fire incident, AI becomes a free agent that no one wants anything to do with until his former South Bay Lakers coach and assistant shows up at out of the blue, looking to hire. him for the NBA team – Minnesota Timberwolves – that they work with now. This is not only unconvincing – AI’s career was on a downward trajectory – but it also negates the themes presented by NBA 2K19 up to that point; If you want players to feel depressed, you need to 1) let them feel it for a period of time and 2) not include a get out of jail option without taking them from zero to hero.

These writing issues likely stem from 2K’s financial interests regarding its basketball title. The sooner MyCareer gets you into the NBA, the sooner it can roll out the faux open world known as “The Neighborhood” – first introduced in NBA 2K18 last year – which lets you walk around and Access your home, gym, team practice arena, community courts and virtual stores. But more importantly, NBA 2K19 hopes that players will spend real money to purchase VC (virtual currency), the in-game currency needed to improve your player’s stats such as offense, defense, and physical abilities. . Its introduction last year was egregious and it’s a shame that this option is still available.

Starting with an overall rating of 60 like previous years, you will need around 2,00,000 VC to reach 85, which is necessary for those who want to play against others online. You earn VC by playing games in NBA 2K19 game modes, but if you plan to spend all your time in MyCareer, playing matches and getting game time in Neighborhood will net you a maximum of 2,000 VC per cycle . And that’s if you perform really well. Essentially, you’re looking at long, hard work to improve your player. Or you can simply shell out Rs. 999.4,000 for 2,00,000 VC. Of course, you’ll have to do a bit of work if you want to go beyond that, but that doesn’t excuse the pay-to-win aspect. (For what it’s worth, 2K complied with loot box bans in Belgium and the Netherlands, while EA did not.)

2K faced heavy backlash last year for tying player upgrades to real money last year, and its parent company, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick, released a tone-deaf response to this in June. He argued that people want “everything for free” and they “can’t really help them” because the company wants to offer “a fair deal” while giving them “much more than they paid for” . His statement overlooked the fact that NBA 2K19 costs Rs. 9,999. 3,000 or more to purchase upfront, and suggested that 2K wasn’t interested in listening to fans. Take-Two has had huge success with microtransactions in GTA V’s online mode and WWE 2K remains the last bastion to give way.

On top of all these issues, NBA 2K19 is reportedly suffering from several bugs since its launch in September, including loss of in-game currency, progression issues, and even file deletions in MyCareer, although we haven’t encountered any such problems in our time. the game so far. Hopefully 2K will set things right or at least refund people’s money, but this is yet another reason why people are staying away. The game is still excellent on the ground – the presentation is superlative and the gameplay benefits from a more visible skill gap, improved shot meter and stamina system – but everything around seems to signal that 2K s Don’t care, and maybe us gamers should stop too.

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