What do you mean there might not be a basketball season this year? Didn’t we already go through the 24/7 updates on the NFL Labor Dispute? Do we have to go through this again? Not only do we have to deal with another lock out but it looks like this one is going to end up a lot worse than the NFL’s with already a few weeks of the season being cancelled. So with the possibility of a shortened or cancelled NBA season there is even more reason to check out NBA 2K12 and see if it can’t build off last year’s stellar release to see if it can be a great substitute for the real thing. Does 2K12 push the series forward? Read our full review to find out.
NBA 2K11 was an amazing game of basketball; in fact I would go as far as to say it was the best basketball game of this generation. 2K Sports is back this year with the only simulation basketball game of the season with both EA and Sony not putting out new additions to their basketball franchises. So does 2K rest on their laurels or do they manage to push the envelope again with NBA 2K12.
NBA 2K12 is all about realism; this is a pure simulation style game of basketball. If you’re not convinced put in a copy of the game and go straight to the training mode and then tell me it’s not. I spent a brutal hour getting through the training mode to make sure I was playing the game right and learning some of the new mechanics that have been introduced in this year’s game. Needless to say I really can’t recommend following my lead on starting with this mode as it is both very long and not all that easy to complete. At some point you may want to check it out to learn some of the more advanced moves but if you have played a basketball game recently you should be OK jumping in.
One of my favorite modes (I’m not alone on this) were the Jordan Challenges. And although they were super challenging it was incredible to relive so many great memories of His Airness. This year this mode has been expanded exponentially to 15 of the greatest basketball players of all time. Each is given the full MJ treatment like last year and is truly incredible. One of my favorite experiences was playing the Kareem challenge on the Lakers against the Larry Bird led Celtics. I had one of those epic last second wins that literally had me jumping out of my chair pumping my fist like I was Tiger putting for a Green Jacket.
Also different from last year is the fact that you don’t have to complete challenges by winning by a certain margin or scoring a certain amount of points but instead you just need to win the game. This lets you enjoy the incredible nostalgia of these epic matchups instead of trying to grind to a certain result.
The other big improvement in NBA 2K12 is the My Player mode. Whereas last year you had to literally grind your way to the starting lineup and to get respectable stats, this year you are given a better fighting chance. The game has you start off in the rookie showdown which is the one game you will play before getting drafted. Once you get drafted you are still given objectives to try and meet to push your player forward. The AI seems to be a lot smarter this year with the My Player mode and in a lot of ways is far more forgiving then it was. The mode made steps forward but to me I still think off the court interactions could be a huge improvement for the mode.
The gameplay in NBA 2K12 has seen some improvements as well. The defensive side of the ball seems to have been a focus during the development time this year which was needed. Playing defense is far more strategy then it is luck this year. The controls are such that they allow you to pick off passes, block shots, and even play some “lock down d”. There is still a ridiculous amount of intercepted passes in the game which I am not sure if this is an issue with the game or how I am playing it but I like to think it’s a combination of both.
The presentation quality in NBA 2K12 literally puts almost all other sports games to shame. Whether you’re talking about the incredible life like stadiums, the recreations of countless superstars (both current and past), and some of the best animation in a sports game around. Usually I don’t spend time in a review talking about a sports game commentary because let’s face it 9.9 times out of 10 there is nothing to write home about. In NBA 2K12 I have played hundreds of games and yet each time I play I hear something new. There is actual insight in the comments that they make instead of just random blanket statements.
You get the feeling that the developers of NBA 2K12 really love the sport and are probably heartbroken that there might not be a season. Their love for the sport is shown with the level of detail that they put into all the presentation values of the game. From the opening game menu to the post game recap there is just nothing but good stuff.
I played more of NBA 2K11 then almost any other game last year, but it had been a few months since I had played it going into 2K12, so needless to say I was well rested. Even though there wasn’t that one “big new feature” in 2K12 there was so many little things sprinkled in the experience that made everything feel new again. I don’t even want to go into how many games of NBA 2K11 I played for fear of embarrassing myself, but even with all of that time in the game I still found myself fully engrossed in 2K12. The development team put in just enough new in the game to make it feel like more then just a moderate step forward.
If sports franchises are wondering what they need to do for their next release they should pay a lot of attention to what Visual Concepts has done with the NBA 2K franchise. More than any other game on the market NBA 2K12 has managed to bring the sport to life better then we have ever seen before. Needless to say NBA 2K12 has gone back to back, and I can’t wait to see if they can do a three-peat.