NBA 2K12 Review (Xbox 360)
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Day One: Gameplay Impressions
Day Two: Game Modes Impressions
It's been one year since we were all blessed with the God of video game basketball in NBA 2K11, so of course our hype levels were at an all-time high with 2K12 releasing last week. The hype built up so much that we were expecting nothing less than a Jordan-esque legend. But in the end, the game didn't quite live up to all the buzz.
Don't get me wrong, this game is fantastic and a must buy for every basketball fan out there, but we were all expecting a classic. Instead we ended up with a great game, and we're disappointed by the fact. We may be greedy and selfish, but this is what happens when 2K consistently puts out a great product. The expectations become so ridiculously high that they will be near impossible to meet.
So I'm not being negative, the game is the best virtual NBA to date. And it all starts with this little thing, which everyone is falling in love with, called gameplay.
The biggest complaint you heard about 2K11 were problems in the gameplay. There were the cheesers who used lead passing and spin dunking to dominate the competition. There were animations that could end a game-tying trip down the court. And of course, the infamous backcourt violations that happened way too often. But all of those have been fixed and then some. Cheesers will still cheese, there will always be a way for them to do that. However, those animations are gone along with the unnecessary turnovers.
Aside from the minor issues that upset so many people last year, 2K really focused on improving every aspect of gameplay. Player movement is much more seamless this year; it looks like you're watching a game on TNT. Signature styles are pretty slick, too. Dirk looks just like he did when he dominated The Heatles last June. LeBron's shot looks amazing when he fades back to miss wide open treys. And Durant's shot makes me want to cry for days because it's so beautiful; he should be in Seattle. By the way, where are all of the alternate Sonics jerseys? Anyone know? I'm waiting.
The play calling system is another huge step for the 2K series. In my opinion, the one thing the NBA Live series did correctly was their play calling system. They always dominated 2K on that front. In 2K12, the play calling system is actually pretty good, though. The diagrams look better, the plays run quicker and smoother and your teammates actually move around.
The new collision engine, something I've been praising the past month, is spot on. Driving to the lane isn't simple anymore, and neither is posting up with Howard; nothing is automatic. The new total control takes affect here as well. Being able to change your shot in mid-air has really added more to everyone's play style. Depending on your team, your point guard might not be able to drive to the hole. Everything changes based on which team your playing you are using. You have 64 teams to play with, good luck mastering them all.
Honestly, the only thing that could make the presentation better is if 2K snagged licenses from TNT, ESPN, ABC and NBC. It looks and feels like a real game. The visuals, the overlays, the commentary, I could go on all night.
The pre-game intros are awesome, especially for key games when it shows the quick 30 second clip. And when they show the starting five with those 3D player models, I begin to drool. Another sick overlay is when in the bottom corner they start advertising for a future game; 3D models of the team's top players just chilling there? Priceless. 2K has never disappointed when it comes to presentation, and they kept up the tradition this year.
The commentary is easily the best in the sports genre bar none. Especially coming from the awfulness in Madden, this was more than a breath of fresh air, it's like being reborn. Harlan, Kellogg and Kerr do a great job. They aren't reading a script, they're using their knowledge to talk about the NBA. I was extremely impressed when they were discussing Rose's development in the league, then they stopped talking about it because of a monster jam. The next thing I heard, word for word: "But to get back on the topic of Rose..." Wow. I never thought I hear that in a video game. 2K brought it this year in terms of presentation.
I'd also like to dabble a bit in The Greatest Mode here, because the presentation there is another thing of beauty. With the black and white, Technicolor and the classic NBA on NBC overlays ... I'm speechless. Mad props to 2K for pulling all of this off.
Now this is where 2K12 starts getting hit with the bad marks. My Player, the mode that was supposed to be amazing, falls short. There are glitches, problems with the AI and issues all around. It's improved over last year, but the problems are like your nagging grandma who won't leave you alone. The endorsements are awesome, even if they can be considered gimmicks.
Association mode is fun as usual, but it's basically the same as last year. There are more free agency options, which is a great addition, but it's not enough to make the mode stand out. Also, with the rookies being left out thanks to the lockout, the realism factor isn't really there. A lot of teams have gaping holes that the rookies should be filling.
However, even with the issues in My Player and Association, there is one mode that will is vastly underrated. The Greatest, which has as much hype as anything, isn't getting too much love. The classic rosters, presentations and commentary really put the mode in a league of its own. Even after I unlock all of the teams, I'm still going to be playing these over and over again.
Name one thing 2K says will improve every year, yet it seems to get worse. If you said "online servers," then you are correct.
The servers have been constantly going in and out since the game hit shelves, leaving thousands of frustrated fans crying for a solution. I know 2K is hard at work trying to solve this problem -- I've been in contact with them -- but these servers need to be ready when the game launches, not three weeks later. (Disclaimer: I don't know if it is actually three weeks, that was only a number I pulled out of thin air. I have no idea when the servers are expected to be running properly.)
Other than the server issues, online feels very laggy when compared to 2K11. The passing and player movement -- two huge upgrades in offline gameplay -- seem like they're just broken. I know all online gaming has some sort of delay, but when it's getting complicated to pass the ball something is wrong. Sure after a few games I got used to the lag, and I'm sure most of you did too, but I don't want to have to readjust my passing every single time I ball online.
The big upgrade to online this year is The Online Association. I haven't been able to delve into this mode too much yet, but I have muddled around through the menus and have been a part of a couple bogus leagues. The menus are decent, but they seem a bit busy. A few nice things I noticed, though, include the ability to set a good time to meet with your opponent in the league, rather than sending a billion XBL or OS messages. The league is even set on a timer, where once it hits zero the league will advance past the current games.
NBA 2K12 is a bag of mixed goods. In my opinion, the good outweighs the bad by a pretty decent margin. The gameplay alone is something that has set the bar for not just basketball gaming, but sports gaming in general. The NBA's Greatest is one of the most addictive game modes I've ever played in any video game to date. And the presentation is yet another piece of the 2K12 puzzle that puts every other sports game to shame.
But as I said, there is bad to go with all of the good. My Player has a few too many tweaks that need to be made and Association is just stale with no upgrades or rookies. I know it's the NBA's fault that the rookies aren't in the game, but the fact of the matter is that it takes away the reality and fun of the popular mode. And I don't need to even get started about the online play; you all know the problems that are there.
So after a year, when we fully enjoyed 2K11, 2K12 is finally here. Though the problems are annoying and the online is sloppy, the game is still a must buy for any basketball fan.
NBA 2K is still the GOAT.
Learning Curve: If you don't know much about basketball and/or didn't play 2K11, you better hit Training Camp right away. Remember, we're talkin' 'bout practice this year.
Control Scheme: To pull off all of the moves, you need to be skilled. NBA 2K isn't a pick-up-and-play game anymore -- it's for the hardcore fans.
Visuals: Can I really rave about this anymore? The presentation and graphics are beautiful.
Audio: This falls under presentation too. The addition of Kerr to Harlan and Kellogg is awesome. Plus this is the best 2K soundtrack I've ever heard.
Online: Terrible. The servers need to be reliable for a change.
Value: The game has its flaws, but it's still the best NBA game ever made. You'll be playing this for a long time.
What does an 8.5 mean?? "8.0 - 8.5 (Great) -- These games are really quite good. There are a few notable flaws with the game holding it back from being a classic, but these games are worth the money, and for even casual fans of the sport they are definite purchases."