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A Trail Blazer Fan’s NBA 2K19 Review

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If you can’t wait a few more weeks for your NBA fix, NBA 2K19 may help scratch the itch.

Ruffles, the Official Chip of the NBA, and Presenting Partner of the NBA Celebrity All-Star Game unveils ‘THE RIDGE’ 4-Point During NBA All-Star Weekend Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Ruffles

If you’re like me, this is the point in the year where you really start jonesing for basketball. The NBA’s dead-period has been a little too dead for a little too long. The regular season is still a month away. I’ll do anything to get a little NBA action. This is where the NBA 2K series comes in.

It’s been nearly a week since NBA 2K19 launched (or slightly more than a week, if you pre-ordered), and the early returns are strong. Of course, after the issues that plagued last year’s edition (endless micro-transactions, oppressive story-mode, occasional glitches), there was nowhere to go but up. As a Blazer fan, this year’s release has been especially fun.

Just for the sake of full disclosure: this isn’t a paid or sponsored review of any sort. I purchased the game at full price in the Playstation Store.

Having only spent a few days with the game, I can tell you the franchise has finally taken another step forward. First of all, the defensive mechanics have received a massive,and very necessary, boost. Gone are the days from last year’s edition where you could simply blow by the defender on the drive. It now requires much more timing, angling, and a control of a player that is a legitimate threat to get to the rack in real-life. If nothing else, this was what I needed to see fixed in this year’s edition and, thankfully, it got done.

I’ve only played the story mode for a handful of hours, and won’t spoil it for you here. But I can tell you that your player’s journey is unlike any previous edition of the franchise. Most importantly? You can skip cut-scenes; a brutal omission from 2K18.

Playing online in The Neighborhood continues to be a highlight but, just like the last several years, wait times trying to get a game can be substantial. What do we have to do to get some additional servers?

Now for the good stuff. I explored all of the features. But I did two things immediately; played a game with the Portland Trail Blazers all-time team and set up franchise mode with this season’s Blazers roster.

The all-time team is so much better this season. Returning from last year are Clyde Drexler, Bill Walton, Damian Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Arvydas Sabonis, Jerome Kersey, Terry Porter, Kiki Vandeweghe, CJ McCollum, Zach Randolph, and Kevin Duckworth. Gone are Rod Strickland, Isaiah Rider, Nicolas Batum, and Wesley Matthews. In their place, three Blazer legends: Brandon Roy, Maurice Lucas, and Geoff Petrie. Jim Paxson rounds out the all-time additions.

This gives you a group that’s much more aligned with the consensus “most-beloved” players in Blazers lore, and they were a blast to play with. Walton is a rebounding machine, Drexler’s animations as he glides to the rim are absolutely uncanny, and Roy is just a deadly with the 19 foot step back as he was in his prime. I really found myself reminiscing for these guys while playing.

The current team in franchise mode seems fairly accurate, with a few minor quibbles. Evan Turner is listed as the starting small forward over Moe Harkless. Wade Baldwin received a D+ perimeter ranking. Nothing major but, as accurate as the series has gotten, they do still get some things wrong.

Unsurprisingly, Portland feasts in the pick-and-roll, struggles in transition, and falls off a cliff when the bench comes in. If you’re like me and like to run a few seasons with the Blazers, be prepared to give your starters heavy minutes.

Overall, NBA 2K19 is a big step up from the disappointment of 2K18. And for Blazer fans, it’s probably worth plunking down the $60 just to be able to be able to play as Lucas and Roy.