Last year, NBA 2K11 upped the ante with a focus on improving an already great basketball game. Instead of just having a roster update, many modes were vastly improved and restructured. It even included his Airness himself, Michael Jordan and many other stars for him to dunk on. It received an A grade from Half-Ass Gaming, but is a year enough for the king of B-Ball to up the ante? Let’s see if this game is nothing but net, or a wild air ball.
What I Loved
• We are truly playing Basketball in this newest addition to the series. At first glance, things will seem almost unchanged from last year. However, there are plenty of new animations and small touches that make the games seem even more alive. Now I know that may seem impossible, seeing as the NBA 2k series is the best at making sports games look realistic. Yet, it is a fact that this may be the title with the highest presentation of the series.
• What happens when you release one of the greatest superstars as your big sell on a game? What exactly could you do in the next year to make it even remotely interesting? The answer is, you go all out and grab every legend of basketball imaginable. This year, his Airness isn’t the main focus of the game… and you’ll get to play in the shoes of many greats. NBA’s Greatest mode will place you in the shoes of Magic Johnson, Dr. J, and even Jerry West.
The venues and games of each of these legends are recreated for players to conquer. Each game is given a different filter to match the era that is being played in. Entire stadiums are altered, theme songs are changed, scoreboards and even commentary matches the sound quality of the time. It is most definitely immersive, and truly representative of the changes to the NBA. This mode makes us miss and love those that paved the way for the players of today.
• Some other modes like The Association and Online have haven’t changed too much. Since the lockout is still a factor, players cannot draft most of the new rookies. Luckily, The Association can at the least be played online with friends, but it is relatively the same minus a new rewards point system. Online is simplified to a Quick Match, or Co-Op Quick Match, with a tournament system hosted by Virgin Mobile to be released sometime in the future.
My Player has received somewhat of an overhauled system in comparison. The Mass Effect style conversations will still make a big impact on your player’s world. Gone is the multitude of practice games at the start of new characters chapter. Instead, players are dropped into a Rookie Showcase game and asked to prove themselves. This leads to an interview with prospective teams, and a Draft that shows off how well you did in that game.
2K has really given the player more incentive for keeping with this mode. Players can earn a salary which they can use to purchase anything. By anything, I mean shoes, statistics, and even unlock brand new signature moves to humiliate opponents with. As you become better in the league, you’ll even get a chance to negotiate the terms of your contract. It’s definitely a vast improvement over last year, where the most interesting feature was just the conferences.
What I Hated
• There are a couple of problems with My Player mode. Since you’re locked down to one player, the game will choose someone to guard for you. In many areas the game will confuse you, and randomly switch to a different character that is wide open. This instantly nets you a penalty if they get the score, or a pass on the inside. I don’t appreciate being penalized by something that I wouldn’t have a chance to react to.
• The presentation is nice and all, but in My Player it can get in the way. Multiple transition windows will appear on the screen during games. This usually has info on how other players are doing in the league, or what is happening in the half-time report. I’m not complaining about this, I am complaining that you can’t skip past them for 5 seconds each. You heard correct, each time a new transition screen appears the game will lock them on screen for 5 seconds. That’s not counting the half-time report which can take at least 8 seconds per window to get past. It’s extremely aggravating after the 8th time you’ve seen it.
• When playing against the A.I., the game will create a fairytale story for you. What do I mean by a fairytale story? Well, suddenly your character will be unable to score a single wide open shot. The computer on the opposite team will become gods, and your team will become drooling old fogeys who stumble all over themselves. All so that the game can give you the “illusion” that you’re playing in a constantly changing game space. Hate to say it, but I wasn’t fooled by any of it… and I can say it just pissed me off.
• Passing is also still as random as it was in NBA 2K11, unless you’re using the context controls… passing to another player on the court can be a coin toss. Contrary to the games belief, I don’t want to pass the ball to that guy half-way across the court. Other failures are animations that force your character to do something you would never attempt. This can easily become an irritating experience, even if it doesn’t happen often.
Regardless of the downfalls of the A.I., NBA 2k12 is bar none the best of the series. It may have not provided much advancement from 11, but it is pretty hard to follow up with what they did last year. The look and feel of player animations, the improvement of My Player and Greatest Players, makes this an easy pick if you missed out on last year’s game. NBA 2k12 receives a B from Half-Ass Gaming; it makes enough changes to warrant a purchase for Basketball fans.
• Love Basketball? : 54.99
• Sorta like it? : $44.99