GameOn: NBA 2K18 is a slam dunk

This NBA season has shaped up to be one of the most exciting in recent years. But if you find yourself in need of even more basketball action, NBA 2K18 can dish you the assist for that. Perhaps the most detailed and in-depth sports game to date, NBA 2K18 is the basketball game all hoops fans have been waiting for.

2K Sports has put together a strong and consistent string of basketball games leading up to 2K18. While the gameplay and handling don’t change too dramatically from year to year — and doesn’t with this latest release, remaining somewhat clumsy at times — it’s the painstaking attention to detail that is its strongest attribute. In the My GM/My League mode, you can strategize your chosen team’s playbook in regard to how you want to approach other teams on both sides of the floor. You truly get to coach and manage your team, being given the ability to adjust how many minutes each of your players is on the floor, changing rotations and switching up rosters. Want your defense to apply heavier on-ball pressure? There is an adjustment for that. Your basketball IQ will be put to the test and expanded, thanks to the freedom to edit the playbook and study all of the Xs and Os, just like you would if you were leading your own NBA team in real life. You become a couch coach, essentially, and don’t even need to get dressed up in a suit to earn the win.

On the other side of this is the standard career mode, in which your created character gets to play through an entire season’s worth of games and, hopefully, make it into the playoffs. You’ll start off on the bench and quickly find out just how much patience you have as your player is literally just sitting on the bench watching the game. Not the most thrilling part of NBA 2K18, but this game is trying to make it as authentic as possible and give the whole experience, even if it at times seems wasteful. When you get your number called, you better make the most of it, because your play will be graded and is a deciding factor in how many minutes you’ll earn for next time. You have to earn that spot in the starting lineup.

There’s also some humor here, too, in the form of the pre-game sports analysts we’re used to seeing on television. The animated versions of Shaquille O’Neal and Ernie Johnson are downright creepy (in a funny sort of way), and their lame jokes fall flat in the game, just like they do for real. Some guest analysts lend their voice to the game, as well, including Kevin Garnett.

And who could forget the playlist, which has become almost as important as the gameplay? There is indeed a wide assortment of jams here that you’ll enjoy, ranging from Mase’s “Feels So Good” all the way to Sammy Hagar’s “I Can’t Drive 55.”

NBA 2K18 is the complete basketball game from start to finish. The gameplay can still often be a bit clunky, even if it’s advertised as boasting a new technological advance compared to previous 2K NBA releases, but nonetheless, it is the most comprehensive and realistic basketball game you’ll be able to get your hands on.

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Jason Savio