With the ongoing struggle of the current NBA lockout, much of the NBA season has been thrown into the gutter with almost no end in sight, which is unfortunate because last year gamers experienced what was probably the best basketball video game of all time in NBA 2K11.
Though they didn't have to, 2K Sports has come out with NBA 2K12, and the game is every bit as good as its predecessor.
What Is It?
Ever since last year's debacle that ended up with EA Sports' NBA Elite 11 being cancelled, 2K Sports' NBA 2K series has been the only NBA simulation game on the market.
Even if it had the competition from EA Sports, the polish and genuine feel of NBA 2K11 made it out to be the greatest basketball game of all time. The game also featured NBA Hall of Fame superstar Michael Jordan, whose greatness further enhanced the game's appeal because of the Jordan Challenge mode, which required players to control the great one and accomplish the same feats he did in his illustrious career. And as any diehard NBA fan will tell you, his feats were impossible, and they definitely felt that way in the game.
NBA 2K12 features everything that made its predecessor great and turns up the heat.
Why Should I Care?
Sports games these days all show an obvious amount of effort in not only simulating the atmosphere of a live game, but also emulating the television broadcast. This is where NBA 2K12 shines. While the menus are still as complicated to navigate as they were last year, the overall look has received a complete facelift that looks both sleek and authentic on screen. When beginning an actual game, a short introduction showcasing both teams playmakers occurs, followed by a short music video montage of in-game action of both teams, and topped off with the excitement in the stands as the commentators begin summarizing their pre-game notes. In regards to commentary, Kevin Harlan and Clark Kellogg are back for another season with Doris Burke once again providing the sideline reports, but for the first time Steve Kerr also makes his presence felt as a color commentator–no other sports game has featured a four people calling a game, and that's worth mentioning. No other sports game on the market, including the Madden franchise, comes close to the electricity and authentic presentation that 2K12 provides, and it makes the game that much more enjoyable.
In regards to complaints about the players last year not looking anything remotely close to what they really look like, the problems are sort of addressed. At the very least, Dirk Nowitzki resembles the Finals MVP that he is, and Kobe Bryant doesn't look like an alien. Either way, not every face is addressed, and that's the only real disappointment with the game's presentation.
Last year's addition of the Jordan Challenge opened new doors for this series' version of "situation modes." The challenge mode gave players more reasons to appreciate what Jordan did in his career. For example, against the Celtics in the NBA finals, Jordan recorded 63 points and seven steals in a losing effort. That's a difficult feat in the NBA, and it's also a difficult feat in the video game. Completing these challenges was a rewarding experience, and that experience is renewed in NBA 2K12 through its NBA's Greatest Mode featuring not only Jordan, but Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, and 10 other greats as well. The challenges aren't as difficult as the Jordan Challenges, so they're a lot more approachable this time around.
The common theme with the modes this year is simplicity. NBA 2K11's franchise mode, Association, hasn't changed too much with the exception of it now being online, but because of the game's enhanced presentation, it just feels refined. Online franchises are nothing new in the sports gaming world, but it definitely improves the game. As for "My Player" mode, players don't have to spend so much time in the developmental league anymore, and the draft comes much sooner, so it's easier to get in on the NBA action without wasting too much time grinding out stats.
The main reason why anybody should care about NBA 2K12 is because of the game's playability. Those who haven't played a basketball sim in a long while will experience some difficulty, but after a couple games, it grows to be quite smooth. NBA 2K12 features the most realistic passing system there is, and the right stick shooting mechanics are comfortable and easy to get the hang of. Each NBA player's distinct shooting style affects the analog's timing, and this is where players will spend the most time getting the hang of things–especially when making three-point shots and free throws.
In direct comparison to 2K11, 2K12 just feels much faster.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
Improved graphics, gaming's best sports presentation, and terrific polish make NBA 2K12 the best basketball simulation available. While it's tough to convince gamers to buy the game with the lack of an NBA season, the reason also works as a reason to buy the game. The improved presentation provides an illusion of an authentic NBA telecast while the new NBA's Greatest Mode is as much a tribute to the NBA's history as last year's Jordan Challenge was a tribute to the best of all time.
Owners of 2K11 won't be missing much by skipping 2K12, but the 2K12 is definitely the superior title.