We only scored two points in the first quarter of our first game at [NBA2K19] .
The defenders blocked us from left to right. When we gave in to the pressure and launched somewhat open shots, our time was a little off. Something went wrong. Everything felt more difficult than we remember.
While we improve as we move in, we leave our time with a preview version of NBA 2K19 feeling that the latest iteration of sim basketball wants to separate amateur professionals (or, as LaVar would say Ball, to the Big Ballers of the Small Ballers). That's a good thing for the serious fans of the series, although a bit worrisome for those who just want to enter the field and the jam.
The central gameplay sees a more serious revision than you would normally expect from a sports sim that is released every year. From a new system that emphasizes the strengths of the players, to improve the individual basketball, to the focus on using all your skill set, NBA 2K19 is shaping up like a marked improvement in the field, and it forces you to you. Play hard if you want to win.
Fire and Ice
The great novelty of the NBA 2K19 on the court is the Takeover system, a mechanic that increases the key attributes of the players. Throughout the game, Takeover meters are filled for each of your players. Once it's full, you can activate Takeover. An icon below your activated player lights up red to let you know he is capable of almost superhuman feats of basketball.
You will see seven different Takeover icons, each one designating a different archetype. A skillful player to take it to the hoop is more likely to be squeezed by the defenders when the Takeover is activated. A lethal three-point shooter, like Steph Curry, is more likely to reach three lengths. An excellent passer has a better vision to find open teammates. A great defender plays even better one-on-one defense with activated Takeover. Some elite players, like LeBron James, have multiple Takeover skills.
We did not have the opportunity to try the seven Takeovers (edge protection, rebounds and post score to the list), but the four we got with worked as advertised. They are wonderful to use, as they make you think of setting up superstar moves that ignore your opponent's best efforts. Using a takeover to execute a play successfully will surely put a smile on your face.
Takeover rewards the good and punishes the bad, and for that reason, it works well within a serious basketball simulator.
The acquisition only lasts a few possessions, but you can have multiple players in Takeover mode at the same time. That said, Takeover does not make your players unstoppable like the "on fire" system in NBA Jam . You must still play solid basketball to fill your Takeover counter and continue playing smart even when activated.
While NBA 2K19 gives, it is also removed. A frozen snowflake icon will appear after a consistently poor performance. Shoot bricks after bricks, and your sniper that was once safe will cool down. That penalty makes you think twice about each shot. Does really have a good chance to make the basket? Or are you shooting because you can not think of anything else to do?
Takeover rewards the good, punishes the bad and marks NBA 2K19 as a surprisingly serious basketball simulator. The game is not about shooting at a barrage of spectacular triples or disrespecting opponents with elegant dunks. It's about establishing winning plays while denying your opponent the same.
Finding a lane
NBA 2K18 felt inclined towards offensive, but finding open lanes and good shooting opportunities in 2K19 requires a game plan. Forcing your way to the hoop is simply not a plausible strategy. You need to call screens, run real games and create a good movement of the ball. Defenders fill open spaces quickly, and one-on-one defense is hard to shake.
The impact meter and the feedback system have been improved to more accurately represent the action on the court.
You can still exploit the defenses, but you'll have to work for it by making full use of the wide range of dribbling moves. The series has always had many nuances, but NBA 2K19 wants users to delve into their bag of tricks to find success. A well-timed hesitation movement can fool a defender, a cross-over can shake the coverage, and a rhythm dribbling, which now has unique distinctive movements, allows it to evaluate defensive coverage. A new movement of dribbling, hard stops, allows you to gather a skillful series of movements, stutter and then move away from your defender.
You can not take a break in the defense either. In 2K18 pressing against the ball controller with L2 / LT was a cheap trick. Once it is fired, you automatically raise a hand to challenge it. That does not happen anymore. Playing active defense, and raising a hand to answer shots, is on you. With offensive players ready to dig deeper with dribbling moves, you can not take away your possessions and hope for the best.
That means that good defensive play is rewarded in a way that it was not before. Creating theft has always been a challenge. Even when you felt that you calculated your intent perfectly, they often cut you or made you unavailable. In NBA 2K19 we were able to choose the pockets of the players and block shots more easily. Carefully observing the overshoot movements at the wrong time and recognizing the excellent opportunity to steal the ball creates valuable quick break opportunities.
You must shoot like a professional
You must synchronize your shots in 2K19 and it feels more difficult to make a perfect shot than ever. That said, the shot meter and the feedback system have improved. Now see the meter in all the shots on the edge, making it more difficult to miss a blank stack; although we must get used to different times that change depending on the animation of layouts.
We loved that 2K19 pushed us towards a game that looked and felt like what we see when we see a real game of the NBA.
The feedback system, which identifies how open you are during your take, is also refined in 2K19 . The shots that seemed open were correctly classified as such, while the challenged looks were, crucially, better classified. If a defender is covered by you, then he expects the shot to be very contested. But if they arrive late to your competition, it is detected with precision, which gives you a better shot opportunity if your opportunity is perfect.
Shooting, like the other aspects of the game, rewards smart play. He made some adjustments, but when we finished our session, we were delighted that 2K19 pushed us into a game that looked and felt like what we see when we see a real NBA game. However, the game changes are also much deeper than the skin. The numerous changes of NBA 2K19 make it a more intelligent and profound experience that reflects the real-time tactical decisions that NBA players make in each game.
NBA 2K19 is released on September 11 PS4, Xbox One, Switch and PC.