Reviewing NBA 2k11

For my first post I decided to review 2k sport’s NBA 2k11. Being a fan of the NBA and nearly all the basketball titles since 2006, I knew I had to play this game when it first game out. The cover features Michael Jordan and is the main focus in this game. His legacy makes him the greatest basketball player ever and this is the best NBA game ever made. This is the most responsive, detailed and accurate basketball simulation up to date (for now anyways) and does not disappoint. But instead of listening to me, let the review inform you.

Graphics and life of the NBA:

Graphics in this game are good, but not great. The character models seem to be the same from last year’s 2k10 without much change. Some players and coaches appear weird in this game. One of the most criticized is how Kobe looks like an alien. But other than the sloppy graphics, the new move sets and animations are simply amazing. There are a variety of new move sets from last year and old veterans of the game will definitely see the difference. Add that with polished and realistic animations, you’re good to go. There are over hundreds of different animations for different players, such as Dwyane wade pulling himself up and down from the basketball rim at the start of a game.

Another important feature of this game is accuracy. If your team is doing well in a regular season, a lot of fans will show up to games. Or, in “My Player mode”, if your customized player decides to say something bad or negative about the team in the press conference room, your teammates may not be willing to pass you the ball. The crowd will stay quiet if your team is losing badly and vice versa. This game stays accurate and realistic to the real NBA.

Overall, arenas and player depiction look nice. The lightings and special effects/features (such as the sprite slam cam and player of the game) add to the overall “feel” of playing in a real NBA game.

Gameplay and Control:

Controls in this game have been taken to the next level compared to its predecessor. Play calling has been made much easier and ball control has improved. The redefined IsoMotion controls allow for a variety of combinations of ball movement on court. This makes the game feel more “natural” as you will have better control your player. In the past 2k NBA games, many players just watch their player go for a double clutch lay-up with no way to control him. But with the new control sets, you can change your direction of ball movement instantly and beat defenders with the right timing. The ShotStick also adds to the creation of new moves. It allows players to change the way his/her player goes up for a shot. An example would be switching hands when going up for a lay-up in a game. But this feature is quite challenging so don’t expect to master it right away. The new level of control is truly amazing to the gameplay and allows new possibilities on the court.

The AI: Are you kidding me?

The AI in last year’s game was disappointing to say the very least. It was easy to cross, dunk, outplay it. This year, it is much smarter. In other words, it might as well be a pain in the ass. The reason for being so is its’ ability to exploit and mirror moves. Now this has its positives and negatives. For a good thing, it adds to the difficulty of the game so once again, it adds to the realistic aspect. (So now don’t expect to pull off any crazy dunks EVERY possession). This means the AI will adapt itself to the way you play. So if you got Dwight Howards dunking on everyone in the paint, the AI will try to shut him down and make you utilize your shooters more often. It can also exploit weaknesses, as mentioned above. If you got Steve Nash guarding Dwight Howard, then you might hear a rim rattle in the near future…The AI is truly fascinating and it is obvious that developers put a lot of effort in delivering the best (realistic-wise) match-ups possible.

Now comes the negative part. Sometimes, the AI is TOO smart and just makes gameplay frustrating. Think you can throw a fast-break pass to Vince Carter with someone guarding him and succeed? Think again. The AI is so insane at times, it’ll deflect your passes even when its’ not looking at your player. Another frustrating part of such awareness is scoring in the paint. Because the AI has a tendency to mirror moves, it’ll counter most of your offensive drives into the lane, making it hard to score inside. Once again, this sort of awareness adds to the feel of a real NBA game but it can really get frustrating at times!

Overall, you will have much more competition against the AI this year. Its’ abilities to exploit moves may either leave you happy because of the competition, or frustrated due to the difficulty of beating it.

Game Modes:

Once again, we see the huge variety of game modes 2k has to offer, with the addition of the “Jordan Challenges” and “MJ: Creating a Legend”. In the “Jordan Challenges”, you attempt to replay the greatest moments of Michael Jordan in game simulations. Once you complete all of these challenges, you unlock “MJ: Creating a Legend”. In this mode, you will attempt to play as Michael Jordan. This time, you control which teams he plays for and such. This mode is very much similar to “My Player Mode”. The different modes will keep you happy and occupied.

Audio:

Audio never disappoints in the previous games and certainly does not disappoint this year. The sound quality during a game is phenomenal. The level of chants, on court chatter, play calling makes it that much better of an experience. The in-game announcers remain the same from last year. Clark and Kevin both return to deliver you the best NBA experience possible. (Not to forget Doris Burke that throws in interview news between periods) The commentary always manages to keep up with the in-game action, while throwing in fun NBA facts to go along with it. Finally, the songs played are pretty good. Artists include Snoop Dogg, the Russian Futurists and much more.

Online Play:

There isn’t much to say about online play. Connection issues may annoy you a lot more than intended. You may be playing an online game and suddenly disconnect due to connection problems. Frustrating isn’t it? You may also notice sudden lag issues during online play as well. Definitely not one of 2k’s stronger aspects.

The Good: Variety of animations, accurate portrayal of the NBA, redefined control, smart and competitive AI, huge variety of game modes, great music and sound effects, realistic gameplay

The Bad: Sloppy graphics, frustrating AI, bad online experience.

Overall:

Overall, the goods of this game greatly outnumber the bad. This is a must-own game for any NBA fan. NBA 2k11 adds on what made the series so great and is a huge step-up from last year. The detail, effort, hard work spent into making this game makes it shine in so many ways. Once again, 2k has succeeding in creating the greatest basketball game of all time.

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