For 2K Sports, it had to be a rather nervous year on their part. While they’ve obviously continued to have great success with their NBA 2K series, it seemed like a rather high possibility that NBA could cancel the full season. Luckily for 2K Sports, the arguments ceased and an agreement was found.
Two of the biggest additions this year were the NBA’s Greatest and Creating a Legend modes. NBA’s Greatest mode allows gamers the ability to take some of the most memorable teams and players and allow them to play against one another. Ever wanted to recreate the amazing matchups between the Jazz and Bulls, Lakers and Celtics, or more? NBA 2K12 is the first game to let you do some on a detailed and accurate level.
The NBA’s Greatest mode is intriguing, but doesn’t hold the long-term attraction that 2K Sports may have hoped for. Players are detailed and play much like you would remember their real-life counterparts playing. After you’ve played through the majority of matchups and pitted old school legends against modern-day legends, you’ll visit the mode far less often.
Creating a Legend, however, is a mode that fans of “My Player” will be quite the fan of in NBA 2K12. Rather than creating your own superstar, you’re able to use any NBA player. You’re basically looking at “My Player” mode with a small twist, but it’s still fun playing if your favorite player isn’t on your favorite team.
Speaking of “My Player” mode, it boasts a few small changes that definitely help this year. There’s a currency system that revolves around your contract, allowing you to actually have a reason to want a huge deal. You’ll be able to use your contract to purchase several enhancements to further your player’s skill, or how well fans like him outside of the court. It’s a nice change that overshadows the small changes made to the letter grades you’ll receive on the court.
The biggest problem with NBA 2K12’s My Player mode is still what has haunted it in previous years: it’s no fun to play a power forward or center. If you’re a guard or someone who can demand the ball rather easily, or control it, the game mode is fun and enjoyable. Playing on the lower block is incredibly frustrating with your low stats not allowing you to convert on the rare opportunities you’re given the ball. If you have the patience to grind out and become a highly rated PF or C, it can become a decent mode for you. However, it’s still nowhere close to the fun experienced by playing a guard position in the mode.
The biggest feature to the game is easily the Online Association. Fans have wanted a true online-only association for a few years, and 2K Sports finally delivered. While the mode does quite a bit beautifully, it still misses key functions. Players aren’t able to view a list of online members and easily click their gamertag to send them a message. There is the ability to “schedule” a time to play with an upcoming opponent, but most gamers find that their opponents tend to not show. For a first year effort, it a great attempt but still needs changes made an a better management from the admin side.
While there’s a lot that seems to underwhelm in NBA 2K12, the gameplay is still by far impressive. It can be an acquired taste at first, but the shear depth of moves that you’re able to string together is jaw-dropping. You’ll immediately recognize the difference of controlling a player like Russell Westbrook versus Deron Williams. Players will need to control players to their strengths, as opposed to their playing styles. Using Dirk Nowitzki to his strengths as opposed to trying to cross over every player and dunk on them will help you be successful at the title. It’s a rewarding feeling to know that each player has various ways to be successful, and you’ll need to use those to win your games.
When playing your games, the AI can be quite the pain. Seasoned veterans playing on the “Pro” difficulty will still find that the game has numerous ways to “rubberband” back into the game. Teams that don’t typically shoot a high volume of threes will sometimes shoot over 30 three-point shots in a contest, even when you’re contesting the majority of them. The worst part about that fact is that they’ll drain a rather high percentage, especially if you’re winning late in the game.
While a patch has stopped the computer from being the incredibly pain that it once was, 2K Sports still needs to work on the AI to make it more realistic. Role players the ones that seem to burn you the most when playing against the computer, but if a star gets hot, calling timeouts and even trying to double-team them can’t save you at times.
With all of the focus that 2K Sports has put on offense in the game, there needs to be an added focus on the defensive side of the ball. Online games against superstars such as Dwight Howard, Lebron James, and Kobe Bryant can be almost worthless when trying to play defense. There still doesn’t seem to be that great bonus for putting a defensive-minded player, such as Thabo Sefolosha, on a star and seeing them struggle. While this is just one example, seeing more defensive controls and statistic effects would be a welcomed addition to the series.
While NBA 2K12 does have a few shortcomings and features that you won’t pay that much attention to, it’s still a great game to pick up for basketball fans. If you’ve been looking for a basketball fix, then the Online Association is one of the best ways to challenge both your GM skills and gameplay abilities. Other sports franchises such as Madden could take huge notes from how to bring an online franchise/association to the table for gamers.