[Review] New Balance 998 "Cityscape" (M998BLA)

In this review, we take a look at the New Balance 998 “Cityscape” (M998BLA). This is a premium men’s running shoe from New Balance that’s perfect for wearing throughout the entire year. See what we think about the quality, comfort, and value of this retro runner in our detailed review.


New Balance 998 “Cityscape”

Retail Price: $180 Paid: $152
Released: Oct. 2019
Style Code: M998BLA


The Video:


Sneaker Quality:

The Materials:

This New Balance 998 incorporates the normal mix of suede, mesh, “leather”, and 3M that we’ve come to expect on most 998 releases these days.

Suede: The gray pigskin suede dominates the shoe’s upper and can also be found on the top portion of the tongue. As far as the quality of the suede, it’s noticeably rich in texture and changes colors when you rub for finger across it.

The suede on the rear of the shoe has a nappier texture, while the nap get shorter as you make your way to the front of the shoe. Looking at close-up pictures really show the difference in texture.

I’ve said it in other reviews, and I’ll say it again here….New Balance uses some of the best suede materials found on any shoe at this price point.

New Balance Athletic Shoe

Mesh: The mesh material is also top-notch and is found on the top of the toe area, the lower portion of the tongue, and in a small area along the heel of the shoe. Similarly to the suede, the mesh is also super plush and soft and adds to the overall comfort and breathability of the shoe.

3M/Leather: As with most New Balance retro runners, this sneaker includes reflective 3M hits that outline New Balance “N” logo and run along the back heel of the shoe.

Lastly, the “N” logo is made of the faux leather material which is also found at the base of the tongue and heel area and on the back heel of the shoe. Of all the materials used on this shoe, the “leather” is the most disappointing. It has a cheap synthetic look and feel that fortunately doesn’t ruin the shoe, but is still worth noting.

I’ve said it in other reviews, and I’ll say it again here….New Balance uses some of the best suede materials found on any shoe at this price point.
— Jared W. | @jaredxwatson

the Construction:

From my experience, New Balance’s “Made in the USA” models like the 998, are constructed extremely well compared to other non-USA models. This can be contributed to the company’s commitment to experienced American workers in their Boston shoe factory.

Click here to see all of New Balance’s “Made in the USA & UK” models on their official website

The craftsmanship from which each shoe is made is evident as soon as you open the box. All of the stitching is straight and clean and the shoe has the nice retro-runner shape that most love.

As far as durability is concerned, I have no doubt that shoe will be capable of withstanding anything anyone could throw at it. I’ve personally owned pairs for 5+ that are worn, but still wearable.


Sneaker Sizing & Comfort:

The Sizing:

Generally speaking, New Balance shoes have a generous fit right out of the box and this is especially true for the New Balance 998.

I’m a big guy who has fairly chunky feet and I’m always pleased with how much roomier the 998 feels in toe area straight out of the box.

Of course everyone’s foot type and fit preference are different, so I’m cautious about give sizing advice, but I generally suggest going true to size with 998s.

Read the complete New Balance 998 sizing guide for more sizing recommendations

On the other hand, going down half a size might work for those with narrower feet or those who prefer a more snug and secure fit.

People with narrower feet or people who prefer a snug fit can afford to go down half a size from their normal Nike or Adidas shoe size.
— Jared | @jaredxwatson

The Cushioning:

The New Balance 998 was originally released as one of New Balance’s flagship running shoes back in the 1980’s. It featured an ABZORB midsole that offered a high quality ride and long-term durability to the shoe that made it an instant hit.

Fast forward to today, and this New Balance 998 is marketed as a lifestyle shoe, but still has the running shoe DNA that makes it a nice go-to for buyers looking for something works both casually and for athletic purposes.

In other reviews we’ve mentioned how this shoe’s midsole isn’t a soft and bouncy as Nike React or Adidas Boost, but maintains its plush feel much longer and becomes more comfortable with each wear.


Sneaker Style & Value:


Even at the relatively higher retail of $180, I still consider this shoe to be a great value. Not only is the shoe made here within the US, but it also uses superior products that are second to none, when compared to the competition.

Couple this with the fact that it can be found online for well below retail (I paid $152 directly from NewBalance.com), and you’ve got a shoe that is the perfect example of a GREAT DEAL.

As mentioned earlier in the review, I’ve owned a few pair of New Balance 998s and they’ve all withstood the test of time as far as durability is concerned. Simply put, they’re well worth the money in my book.

I nicknamed this shoe “Cityscape” because the various shades of gray remind me of the concrete seen in the big city.
— Jared w. | @jaredxwatson

The Wearability:

Every since I bought my first pair of gray New Balance shoes back in 2012, I’ve fallen in love with the brand as a whole and made it a personal rule to keep a fresh pair of their grey New Balance’s in the yearly sneaker rotation.

Not only is gray synonymous with the brand, but it also makes their shoes extremely easy to rock. Specifically, the classic and neutral look of the grey on the 998 “Cityscape” can go with just about anything in your wardrobe and can be dressed up or down depending on how you’re feeling.

At first glance, tt resembles the “Bringback" 998, but has a few key differences – beige heel counter, colored midsole, charcoal sock-liner – that set it apart from the OG.

The New Balance 998 “Bringback” (view on NewBalance.com)

The New Balance 998 “Bringback” (view on NewBalance.com)

All in all, ff you’re looking for a nice comfortable shoe that can go with just about anything in your closet, this is a great option to consider.

The look is an acquired taste for some, but is considered a clean, timeless classic to those who are deeply entrenched in retro sneaker culture.


The Insider Rating:

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New Balance Athletic Shoe

Sneaker Gallery:

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Founder & Chief Editor
Jared has merged his creativity, business acumen, and passion for helping others, to form a digital space committed to educating, engaging, and empowering people across the globe. #RetroSneakerLover