2K is more than just a game, it’s a culture – developed and cultivated over 20 instalments of dime dropping, bucket getting, basketball glory. A staple part of any hoops fans consumption. And this year, Double Clutch had the ultimate honour of being part of the game’s launch all the way over in Brooklyn, New York.

The entire experience was surreal, bordering on the unbelievably awesome – despite being on US soil for less then 48hours. Let me tell you, these 2K guys know how a to throw a party!

Located at Green Point, Brooklyn, within spitting distance of the Hudson and New York’s iconic skyline, 2K turned a large warehouse into hoop nerd heaven. A walkthrough of 20 years of the game, with 16 of the previous iterations available to play. Add to that a t-shirt printing station and a custom 2K19 cover for everyone in attendance and it was already more than enough for me to go home with dilated pupils… but then, like some miracle offered by the Gods, roughly 60 consoles loaded up with the newest instalment of the game, literally descended from the heavens.

Naturally, I was more than eager to get cracking on the new version and rattled through the creation of a MyPlayer to test the new prelude, which will be available for free download on 31 August. Similarly to last year, once you’ve chosen what position you’ll play, created players will have a primary and secondary skill set to determine your players archetype. Again, adjusting the physical dimensions of your player will have positive and negative effects on certain traits.

 

This year’s twist on the storyline is that you go undrafted and have to work your way into the league via the Chinese Basketball Association (a very shrewd business move by the creators to tap into that market), then the G League, before you finally land a spot with the big boys.

I didn’t get through anywhere near the full 90 minutes of prelude, but found it incredibly difficult to blow by opponents – hardly surprising when you’re overall rating is somewhere in the 60s. Instead, you have to carefully navigate screens to pick high percentage shots (hello elbow jumper, curling off a pin down), make the right passes and hustle your butt off to grab rebounds (I was a 6’8, small forward, by the way).

First thing I’ll be doing once I land tonight (yes I’m writing this mid-air) is download the 2K19 app in preparation for the Prelude’s launch tomorrow. I want my face in this game, again.

After a sufficient period of time, and having been majorly distracted by the arrival of Jayson Tatum, I felt ready to test the actual game out and what better way to do it than by playing a member of 2K staff head to head. Out of respect for my opponent (and a desire to be invited again in the future), I won’t name names – you know who you are – but I was surprisingly pleased to be on the providing end of a 25 point beat down… we went Blazers vs Heat (our favourite teams) and C. J. McCollum went off like a sniper for me in Dion Waiters’ face.

Player fatigue is a key factor this year, don’t expect to be able to load up using one guy constantly. When Double Clutch’s Matthew Wellington and I tested the demo earlier this month in London, it was clear from playing with the Lakers that even LeBron was not capable of shouldering the entire offensive load. Similarly, it feels as though players need to warm up a little, so pull up threes with a hand in your face, straight from the tip, aren’t happening.

Once you’re going though, players heat up, and when they’re on, they’re on! They feel as though they get into a rhythm and suddenly, their strengths magnify in a hugely impactful way – so look at for these as ways of busting a game open with devastating run.

As we were playing, Kevin Garnett, Kemba Walker, Giannis Antetokounmpo all roll by. Feeling giddy with an inflated sense of pride – following my blow-out win and from being in the company of NBA stars – I continue to claim Ws on 2K13 (blowing out Boston with OKC) and 2K11 (winning by one with a last second block by Ray Allen on Kobe!).

The latter was against YouTuber and all round super-nice guy Josh Dixon (go check him on YouTube – JD Crossover) and being a sportsman I agree to play him at 2K18… To give me a fighting chance, I get the Warriors. Josh rolls with OKC and my evening takes a significant turn for the worse as my foe schools me in every possible way and even (much to my increasing frustration) compliments the positive things I did with a pitiful tone. I feel like prey being toyed with. I lose. Heavily. My sense of self pride deflates significantly.

Ben Simmons swings by, Ronnie 2K is floating around, DeMarcus Cousins is in the house alongside D’Angelo Russell and Double Clutch’s biggest follower on Twitter – Mr Dame Time himself – Damian Lillard. The 2K19 consoles ascend back into the heavens and Michael Rapaport hits the stage dropping the latest Neighbourhood trailer and a video of LeBron interviewing the curator of NBA 2K19’s soundtrack, Travis Scott.

Scott then takes to the stage for a surprise performance and gets the place popping like a New York club. It’s all kinds of epic, but something’s missing. I hunt Josh down again. I need a rematch. I can’t end on such an embarrassing L. We head back to the 2K18 machine and select All-Time teams, he takes Lakers, I take Bulls. Despite my undying love of MJ (GOAT!!), I quickly realise that this is not an even match-up, not by a long long long way. Shaq, Kareem, Kobe, Magic and the Logo – what have I done… this is more one sided than the first game.

Humiliated once more and realising my game needs a lot of work, I slink off into the City That Never Sleeps (it’s kind of hard to sleep when it’s so humid and you have about three hours before you need to leave for your flight) for some pizza to console me… Despite the horrifying beating, the evening was incredible, awe inspiring and jaw dropping – a memory that will last a lifetime.

I can’t wait to get my hands on a full copy of the game. The standard has been set and I’m up for the challenge. I’m coming for you Josh, mark my words – see you on the digital court.

Download the app now and scan your face so that you’ll be all set to begin your career with The Prelude when it launches this Friday, August 31st.

The NBA 2K19 Standard Edition will be available on September 11, 2018. The 20th Anniversary Edition will be available on September 7, 2018. Pre-orders for both editions are available now.

The Mike Miller cover edition is available from select retailers…..


NBA2K19 Thank you