The year started off pretty normal for basketball but oh how it changed after the 2009-2010 season ended. First you had “The Decision” which was a joke in its own merit, then you had NBA Elite 11 (EA’s new basketball franchise) get delayed until early 2011, and now you have Michael Jordan gracing the cover of NBA 2K11. It really is a weird year for basketball but then again still an exciting one. There is one thing that is certain and that is that 2K Sports went all-in with there latest basketball game but does it pay off?
First off anytime you have Michael Jordan on the cover of a game you’re going to have a few extra people looking to see what’s going on. He is one of the few athletes out there that really transcends a sport. So there was no doubt that going into NBA 2K11 there was going to be some serious pressure on 2K Sports to deliver, and fortunately they did just that.
The game has a really interesting way of opening up NBA 2K11 to you. You walk onto the court as #23 taking on the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1991 NBA Finals. I have to admit the quality of this opening game is truly unparallel in sports video games. The commentary feels like it is watching you play the game. Looking back at all of the super stars on the court during the game is truly a magical experience. Once you finish that game you will be left to explore NBA 2K11 as you please which includes a Jordan challenge mode. The mode looks at the ten greatest Jordan games and has you try to meet milestones (points scored, rebounds, assists) to meet the challenge. This mode is flat out ridiculously hard but addicting. Playing as Jordan against some of these legendary tips is both accurate and enjoyable.
Let me say one thing I completely sucked at NBA 2K11 for the first ten hours or so of playing. I refused to try to give into the fact that the game wanted me to play basketball the way it is meant to be played which is intelligently rather then my method of throwing up threes and going for quick dunks. You can do these things but just don’t plan on being all that successful. Where you will be successful in NBA 2K11 is if you can run some pick and rolls and other plays that will give you open looks rather then just trying to force your way through things. The AI on both sides of the ball are truly remarkable and are a huge improvement over previous outings.
What really impresses me most isn’t the depth of the modes, or even the improved AI, it’s the fact that 2K Sports more then just about any other sports video game nailed the atmosphere of the game of basketball. Whether you’re in the middle of the 2nd quarter or watching Jordan put up 60 points the game does an amazing job of capturing the excitement of the NBA. One of the biggest reasons for this is the stellar commentary that actually talks about what is going on, on court. So many times commentary in sports video games is generic and repetitive but NBA 2K11 manages to give one of the best I have heard.
All in all NBA 2K11 is a great game of basketball. It has a few shortcomings especially in the online play which ends up having some issues. However overall this is just a great game of basketball.
NBA 2K11 already has MJ on the cover what more could you want? However 2K managed to continue to raise the bar and improve the great visuals of the series. A lot of the players are easily recognizable while others are just down right scary to look at, Kobe I am looking at you. The animation on the court is actually really solid, the frame rate holds up, and the animations are much more fluid then in years past. Overall from the crowd to the action on court this is a great looking game of basketball.
I was 100% frustrated with NBA 2K11 when I first started playing it. More then in years past it truly makes you play basketball in a much more strategic fashion. Once you start to get the hang of it and play the game with a bit more intelligence the experience becomes extremely rewarding. There is plenty of depth within all different modes although some have gone without much updates from last year’s game.
Need I mention once again that MJ is on the cover? Let’s face it even without MJ, NBA 2K11 is one of the best sports games I have played in years and manages to push the bar even higher not only for competing basketball titles but for sports games in general.