Professional basketball has a sense of style that is unique to the world of sports. The glowing arenas, fashionable apparel and high speed of the game are all unmatched. On the court, it’s not just about the win or the loss, it’s about the way you look doing it. NBA 2K19 builds upon its strong gameplay, fantastic presentation, and wide array of game modes to embody this attitude. Its style is cramped a bit by a small number of persistent issues with AI behavior and obscene microtransactions in the MyPlayer mode, but other than that, NBA 2K19 is a high point for the series.
Getting into the action isn’t as smooth as it could be because NBA 2K19 has a tougher learning curve than the series has in the past, one that rewards skill and punishes novice play. Even as a veteran of the series, I found myself getting pounded by the CPU on the default difficulty level as I relearned the old mechanics and adapted to a slew of defensive improvements that make dribble-drives much more difficult. (I actually found playing online against others who were struggling with the same things to be a better learning tool.) This year places a tremendous amount of emphasis on ball control and maximizing your players’ abilities. Each time the buzzer rang, however, I felt myself getting a little better.