With the ongoing NBA Lockout, LeBron James contemplating playing in the NFL and the threat of the upcoming season being wiped out, it seems that NBA 2K12 may be the closest thing that we’ll get to NBA basketball this year. And thankfully the latest basketball game from 2K Sports is a fantastic representation of the sport.
Last year’s highlight was the inclusion of a NBA legend in Michael Jordan, well this year NBA 2K12 goes one step further and now includes a whole bunch of NBA Legends. The game includes some absolute greats of the game like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Julius “Dr.J” Erving, Wilt Chamberlin and much more. And to capitalise on these names, last year’s Jordan Challenge has been replaced with the NBA’s Greatest mode. In this mode, each legend’s challenge consists of playing against a rival team during their peak period.
Unlike last year, there are no specific game challenges or objectives to achieve, only that you beat the opponent. The reward for achieving this feat is that the two teams involved in the game are unlocked so they can be used in the game. This way you can have some amazing dream matchups like the 2010-11 Miami Heat team of James, Wade and Bosch versus the 1995-96 Jordan, Pippen and Rodman. It was bit of a bummer that the player specific objectives were removed, as they added that extra challenge to the games, but the upside is that you can play a normal game instead of being bogged down with one player being the focus of the game.
The game presentations in NBA 2K12 is outstanding, especially for the games involving the legends. Playing the games, you’ll feel as if you’re watching an actual broadcast, as it includes half time reports and advertisements for upcoming matches. The old school games featuring the legends are presented in the broadcast style of that era. Bill Russell’s game will be played in grainy black and white, while Wilt Chamberlin’s game which is set in the early 70’s feature the basic graphics and the de-saturated screen colours of that time. The games are also authentic to that era, so the games set in the early years will have no three point line. The one thing I noticed was that the shoes worn by the old players looked quite modern in style.
The My Player mode returns with some major improvements. Firstly, the goal is now to enter the Hall of Fame. To make this goal achievable, the mode has been streamlined. To begin with, instead of having to play numerous games in the NBA Combine, Summer Circuit and maybe the D-League, you only have to play the Rookie Showcase game and then participate in 3 pre-draft interviews with prospective teams. How you perform in both the game and interviews will dictate where you are drafted. This year, the game features NBA Commissioner David Stern and his deputy, Adam Silver announcing the draftees, which is a nice touch.
The option to play only key games, like ones of importance like rival games, allows you to play through a season at a faster pace. This is most useful, since the goal is to reach the HoF, and having to play every game for a number of seasons is quite a long and daunting task. During those numerous seasons, you’ll need to achieve some hefty goals such as winning the MVP award to have a chance of entering the Hall of Fame.
The money earned throughout your career now can be used to purchase goods, such as skill points to improve your player, or holding team parties like bowling tournaments to improve the team chemistry or maybe contribute to the community by donating to the animal shelter to improve your popularity with the fans. Cash can be also used to buy signature moves like Michael Jordan’s dunk for your player. So, when it comes to negotiating your new contract, there is now an extra incentive to sign the biggest contract possible.
The Association also returns, but unlike the My Player mode there are no major additions and improvements to the game. It is basically the same game as last year, which is disappointing. This year though, the Association mode is playable online, so you can grab a bunch of friends and compete to see who the best at running a NBA team is.
The AI opponents play a smart game, and on offense will take its advantages such as mismatches and capitalise on your defensive errors such as leaving your assigned player, to create wide open shots. The AI defends with tenacity, but with the Total Shot Stick control, it was easier to create your own shots. Using a combination of the right thumb stick and shot modifier, you have options such as choosing the left or right hand for a layup, most useful for avoiding the block or even executing fancy moves such as spinning past a defender.
The new Training Camp feature helps you to learn all the moves, with the help of some of the legends. Jordan will of course help out with the shooting lessons, while Hakeem Olajuwon will be your mentor for post moves.
With the inclusion of all the NBA legends, as well as the exceptionally deep and addictive My Player mode, NBA 2K12 is a great game to play and an improvement on last year’s version. It is an able substitute until the NBA lockout ends, and the real basketball games begin.