No wonder NBA Elite was pushed back (or canceled whoever you want to believe). NBA2K11 has set a standard that the EA Sports division as a whole needs to take note of. But then the 2K sports series has been doing this for awhile now and the only thing that is saving EA Sports right now is its lock on the NCAA and NFL licenses.
From the moment the game starts, you know you are in for a treat as the ‘new gimmick’ of Jordan’s addition is clearly apparent. But for those of us that have been gaming won’t see this as a gimmick. I know for myself, the opening game from the 1991 Finals brought back memories of the first of the EA Sports games Genesis (Bulls vs Lakers) but now it’s come back full circle. High res graphics, player models and and great commentary (even a YOUNG Phil Jackson!) makes me almost cry! Remembering that all those years ago, the closest we got to playing this game were sprites and numbers makes this game a dream come true!
So, let me stop waxing nostalgic and talk about everything else. While the opening game is great, for those that could care less about this are going to be frustrated that they can’t immediately go through to the menu. To me, that is one minor negative but once you do get through that one thing that I did like was that 2K cleaned up the mess of an interface from last year and made the menus this year a lot easier to navigate through. As always, customize as you see fit.
Some may complain that this game is another roster update but I know for myself, I played 2K6 and 2K7, skipped 8 and 9 but I got last year’s game and was amazed with the Living NBA feature which has made it back and the NBA Today feature. One thing that I have always loved about this series that EA Sports needs to take notes on, is that the 2K Sports series doesn’t always try to throw a gimmick every year with a ‘new controller feature’ or something so totally lame that it breaks the game instead of enhancing it (YES EA GAMEFLOW IS BULLHOEY!!). To its core, NBA2K11 is essentially the same game that you have played for years following the philosophy of ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” but the beauty of this is 2K spent more time tinkering with improving the AI and player animations and it shows. The control scheme is essentially the same but the ball animations and player reactions to the controls have improved much since last year. Playing around with NBA 2K11 shows that given time, it almost becomes a living breathing thing that, if you didn’t know any better, you were watching an actual game rather than a video game.
Now as much as I like Jordan, one small distraction is that the game is littered with almost any and everything Jordan throughout the game but considering what it takes to get him to endorse anything and because of those endorsements, products will sell, I can let it slide.
One thing that is fun however are the Jordan challenges and if that is this year’s ‘gimmick’ which came along with getting Jordan to endorse this game, it’s a great one and I spent a lot of time trying to play through these challenges so I can unlock Jordan. I haven’t done it yet but I have unlocked a few of the sneakers!
I won’t repeat too much of what the previous reviewers have said but the presentation is great. It is as slick as always even in between quarters, watching a pseudo commercial about upcoming matches tends to be fun. The Halftime show is a bit more improved this time around as I liked how the commentating crew talks about other games being played in the league. Now I am wondering if I started playing the Association, will there also be game highlights? The commentary and crowd reaction is as kinetic as ever and people always tend to get on the commentators repeating things but I mean come on, we know it’s going to happen, but the commentating on here is better than what you get in some EA games. It’s still cool to hear them talk about your player’s performance from a few nights ago and instead of making up some imaginary number, that stat was indeed true.
As far as other extras, I tinkered around with the black court games and with that came some of the usual suspects of 21, 3pt Shootout and more. Definitely always worth looking at when you aren’t in the mood for a full out 5 on 5 confrontation.
But there is one negative and that is the Move controller on the PS3. I think any game that gets Move support needs to have a calibration/tutorial session built in before they just toss you to the wolves. It took me about 15 minutes to properly set my Move stick and I wasn’t all that crazy about trying to play this with my dualshock. I also have the new Nav stick and could not figure out how to get it to work with the Move controller so if anyone has pointers on getting it to work, please let me know but the Move right now as it is, feels more like an afterthought than well thought out.
Otherwise, if you are a basketball fan or sat out of the 2K phase, then this is the time to get it. As I said, EA needs to take notes and it’s no surprise that their franchise has been put on hold. 2K takes your expectations and surpasses them by making a sports game that easy to get into and hard to put down once you start to play. If you are a Jordan fan and want to relive some of his past glory, then this is as close as you are going to get short of a holodeck and once you unlock him you get to use him against today’s youth so forget trying to recreate him in Create a Player, YOU HAVE HIM.
9 out of 10