NBA 2K12 Review
You can tell the NBA is in trouble when you need the best players of the 70s, 80s, and 90s to grace your cover. Seriously, basketball is just not what it used to be. Luckily, 2K Sports' NBA 2K series continues to be what it used to be. Even better, they seem to improve it every year. Does NBA 2K12 continue its Jordan-esque run of greatness? Or does it promise six championships and choke in the finals?
The first thing you are going to notice in NBA 2K12 is the the presentation. I must say, this is the most flawless presentation in a sports game I have ever seen. It captures the NBA feel perfectly. Other sports games should take out a pen and paper and jot down some notes on how to add a little passion to their game. As soon as you hear “We're playin' bas-ket-baaaall,” from Space Jam in the opening video, you're going to be like, “Oh heck yea!” As a matter of fact, the game bleeds Jordan. He's on the cover, you can wear his shoes, and in My Player he sends you letters about how the Jordan brand is keeping an eye on you. Maybe if Lebron went and played baseball for a year then he could finally get some attention—am I right, Heat fans that are reading this and getting so mad?
Continuing, before every game there is a little montage of the two teams, their players, and some cool highlights set to one of the game's songs. It looks just like something that would play on ABC or TNT before a real basketball game. Even player introductions are handled with care. It just seems like 2K has a robust library of dialogue that will always be in the middle of the action.
The sounds of the NBA are also on full display here; every sound you associate with basketball is done flawlessly. It's so realistic that Knicks fans chant for a Chris Paul trade every two minutes. I kid, I kid. Seriously though, Mike, who knows very little about sports, said, “I hear the squeak of their sneakers! That's so authentic!” It is, Mike... it is.
If I had one complaint about any of the presentation or sound, it's that the soundtrack wasn't to my liking. I'm a little tired of Eminem, and it just seems like he's in every game nowadays.
No one runs the fast break better than Lebron and the Heat.
Gameplay is only as 2K Sports can deliver it. You can control all of your shots with the right stick, but I found myself going back to buttons to deliver my sweet jump shots. It's almost like you can do too much with the shot stick, if that makes any sense. I still find it a little difficult to pull off a crossover or drive past an opponent to the paint, but that's probably more of my lack of skill and improved defense than it is the controls. The defense is much improved this year, so you'll have to work to get open shots. However, I shouldn't have to be on a fastbreak with no one around me in order to dunk it. Players do a jump shot three feet away from the basket or go for a layup instead of just slammin' it down a little too often for me.
Also, while the AI defense is sharper than ever, it is tough to hang with your opponent when you're on defense. They consistently put up a 63% or better shooting percentage against me—and I'm pretty damn competitive at sports games. The offense consistently gets open and drops in shots from behind the arc with ease. Then again, it's the NBA, which doesn't really like playing D that much anyways... Knicks. What's good about the defense being tougher for you and against you is that every game is a potential nail-biter.
Look at everyone just standing around while Kobe does everything. So realistic.
The Association is back, and while it remains unchanged, it has an enormous amount of depth. It would be silly to mess with an amazing mode. What's new is that online, you and 29 other people can form your own NBA league and play through a season. All the bells and whistles are still there. Nothing is dumbed down. So this addition to the game is much appreciated.
NBA Legends join Michael Jordan as you play as 15 of the NBA's best players ever. You take their teams and go up against other talented teams in epic match-ups. Some of these players are Karl Malone, John Stockton, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson. I took Jordan and his Bulls against the '91 Hornets and got schooled by Muggsy Bogues, Alonzo Mourning, and company.
The Mailman has a package for you.
The best part of the game is My Player. I could, and did, spend hours creating my player, taking him through a rookie game, pre-draft interviews, the NBA Draft, and finally into real games. Unfortunately, it was with the Milwaukee Bucks. They asked if it was a city that I could see me spending my whole career in, never leaving for the big markets. Are you kidding? Milwaukee? Anyways, if you’ve never played the mode or a game in the NBA 2K series, then consider it the RPG of basketball games.
Your player is assigned goals every game. You’ll start off as a role player off the bench, but if you continue to meet your goals and be a good teammate (the teammate rating is a lot more forgiving this year), then you’ll get skill points to level up numerous ratings, such as ball handling, three-point shooting, and rebounding. You can also spend this points to level up abilities, like fade-away shots and crossovers. Not only do you manage skill points, but you manage your money too. You get paid every two weeks (they’re people just like us!), and you have the ability to donate your money to charity and take your team out to dinner or bowling. You also get drills to perform; one of my personal favorites is the schoolyard game of knockout.
Yea, it's the Bucks, but I'm on a billboard!
Your ultimate goal in My Player mode is to become a hall of fame player, which you can accomplish by scoring 20,000 points, among other difficult goals. However, I played for the endorsements. When I got drafted, Milwaukee put me on a billboard with the phrase “The future has arrived.” After my first game, Air Jordan sent me a letter saying that they are keeping an eye on me. Forget the hall of fame, get me the shoe deal!
Minus a few annoyances with handling the player on offense and defense, NBA 2K12 is a blast and a must-have for any NBA fan. Heck, it’s probably the closest you’re going to get to an NBA game this year. If 2K keeps this up, they’re going to have to insert their own game into their NBA Legends mode next year. A NBA 2K game inside an NBA 2K game—2K-ception!
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]
You can follow Lance Liebl on Twitter @Lance_GZ