Perhaps we spoke too soon. When PlayStation Universe reviewed NBA 2K11, we said that it would be the best game on the market for quite a while. Well, it turns out we were wrong, as a new champion is here, and it has arrived only one season later. But how does NBA 2K12 fare?
As with last year’s title, there are legends challenges available, though this time around there are a total of 15 NBA legends, each with an iconic game being represented from their past. People like Bill Russel, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Dr. J to name a few. If you manage to win the game, you will unlock the player and the two teams playing for use in quick play, but if you lose, it is back to the start menu. One notable feature is the old time filter applied to these titles, where games from ages gone by show a more “vintage” look, than the crispy clean high definition of the current. This provides a neat effect to simulate the older television broadcasts. One complaint about the vintage modes, and it is a small one, would be the commentary. The commentators voice over is in the present day, often spouting fact and figures about the players rather than focusing on calling the game most of the time. While the trivia is interesting (like MJ wearing baggy shorts to cover his UNC shorts), it is distracting to the immersion of playing an old time game.
In the graphics arena, this game does little wrong. All throughout, it is set up like a professional sports broadcast. Advertisements are kept to a minimum, providing some relief from last season’s onslaught. Animations in the game are impressive. With a sports title, being able to actually see what is going on with your player is key. Fortunately the game hums along at a rock steady frame rate, meaning you will literally see your player commit the foul through convincing animations. A lot of the player mannerisms are also well represented, like B.J. Armstrong of the Chicago Bulls clenching his fists and shaking his head in frustration after committing a stupid foul, or Bill Cartwright’s infamous (and drawn out) free throw shot form.
You have to play the game to realize you probably won’t make any free throws with that man as the timing is a real challenge. Details in the arenas and player uniforms are equally as impressive. As the NBA changes, so does the game. Venues and player uniforms will update as they update in real life, assuming you have an internet connection. This detailed updating is carried through the game in aspects as small as the player’s shoes. For example, if a new version of Air Jordan shoes is released, it will be available for use in-game too. You also have the ability to design your own shoe using NikeID in-game. It should be noted as well, the game supports 3D, but could not be tested.
What would arenas be without the thundering sounds emanating from overly massive speakers hanging from the rafters? Boring, that’s what, but don’t expect that from 2K Sports. Artists such as Busta Rhymes, Cee-Lo and others bring the house down with songs that make you feel like you are in the arena. General sound effects for the game itself are standard fare, sadly. The crowds have very little to say, if anything, over the standard “crowd noise” most games use. The players and coaches speak little as well. The audio seems to falter and skip frequently during loading times, but since all loading is done in the background during cut scenes or close up animations when there is a break in play, it is simply a minor annoyance. Sounds during gameplay are flawless with no skips.
Controls are a mixed bag here again with the 2K series. You have total control over your shot with the right analog stick and movement of your player with the left. Shot control with the right stick has a steep learning curve, so be prepared for a lot of missed shots. However, if you manage to master it, your level of play will go up dramatically. Same can be said for the player controls. You can modify your player’s onscreen movements with a combination of the left stick and L2 button. Again, as with shot control, this means you have a lot to learn if you choose to do so. 2K Sports graciously gives you lots of chances to perfect your moves with drills, play areas, and challenges. For those who like playing basic, you can still use X to pass, square to shoot, but these won’t look as nearly impressive or be as effective as the moves you can master with the analog sticks. If you can get past the incredibly difficult left/right analog stick combos, you will be treated with as well rounded of a basketball simulation as you will find. PlayStation Move support is included in the game, but could not be tried out.
The NBA2K series is again at the top of its game with this latest installment. It is a glorious experience into the realm of professional basketball that should not be missed. Whether you create a rookie to take through the paces, or start off with a professional team in season play, you will not find a more enjoyable basketball game on PlayStation 3.