I can’t believe how fast time is flying. It didn’t feel like that long ago NBA 2K10 dropped through my letterbox for review. It’s now been two years and this time I’m reviewing the annual 2K Basketball game, NBA 2K12. I wonder if they have progressed much since 2K10? Let’s find out.
At first glance I thought I had been sent the wrong game and was in fact reviewing NBA 2K2 as the basketball legend that is Michael Jordan was on the front of the boxart, however upon closer inspection I was definitely reviewing NBA 2K12. I found out why later. Minor confusion aside I was ready to see what 2K Sports could bring to the table in this year’s offering.
The best place to start is to tell you what’s available for you. Your usual options include exhibition, NBA Season, My Player (similar to the Be a Pro mode found in the FIFA series), online and this year’s unique selling point, the ‘NBA’s greatest’ mode where you can try and recreate history by playing as some of basketballs greats including Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and of course Michael Jordon. I suppose that explains the choice to have him on the cover of the game.
I decided to lace up my hi-tops straight away and play the My Player mode, as I had some bad memories with this part of the game from the 2K10 version. I was intrigued to see if I would enjoy this mode more two years on. The simple answer is somewhere in between yes and no. After spending time trying to create a basketball player which somewhat resembles myself and ploughing through the monotonous training regime, which mainly consisted of me playing terribly, I was still miraculously selected to take part in the pre-season draft. Now as a non-American, I find the draft bizarre and while I understand the concept, it’s very much americanised. Big lights, crowds of club officials and your average punters in attendance to what appears like an auction for new players. Before I got auctioned off to my selected team I had to undertake pre-draft interviews with the scouts who have recently been watching me – they obviously weren’t watching me closely. This was fun at first but after the third interview I got the feeling it didn’t really matter what option you selected to answer their questions. No matter what, you are going to be drafted into a team. So New York Nicks it was, which I was more than happy about.
Now the reason I enjoyed the My Player mode more than previous titles is because there has been some additional changes to the game, and while they aren’t massive, they do improve the overall feel of the mode. You now have better sponsorship opportunities meaning if you’re good enough and impress enough people you’ll soon find yourself on magazine covers, billboards and even TV commercials. The reason it’s not a definitive yes is because I’m just not sure the whole Be a Pro/ My Player mode is for me. I wasn’t really a fan of it on FIFA and my stance hasn’t really changed.
My favourite part of the game in 2K10 was the Sprite Slamdunk competition mode. It’s worth having a look on YouTube if you’ve never heard of it. It’s fun, different and I am very disappointed, borderline raging, that there isn’t a slamdunk competition in 2K12. It must be something to do with licensing but I was looking forward to playing this prior to putting the game in my Xbox 360 console.
With my disappointment set aside my now new favourite mode is the standard NBA season, where you get to guide your favoured team – Boston Celtics for me - through a season trying to crown your chosen team as NBA Title champions. While there’s nothing to scream and shout about it will certainly keep you busy. Instead I’ll tell you about this year’s additional game mode that’s used to try and lure you into upgrading from 2K11. It is of course the NBA Greatest game mode. You can probably imagine what this mode is about, but just in case I’m going to tell you. In this mode you get to play as some of the greatest basketball players in the world. From the great that is Larry Bird, Lakers legend Magic Johnson to Bulls front man Michael Jordon himself. Not only do you get to step into the shoes of these great players but the whole game changes from its modern era to the surroundings of the specific occasions. This means the return of tight short shorts and a grainier picture for some occasions – I don’t think they had HD back in the day. Overall, this mode provides some relief from the stresses of running a team in the NBA Season mode, and definitely a relief from being pumped online by some American gamer.
Speaking of getting pumped online, it appears only me who gets matched up next to the Kobe Bryant of the NBA 2K12 world whenever I decide to explore the online scene. It probably doesn’t help that I’m just not very good at the game, or seem to be able to have a stable connection when playing during some games, which may be down to 2K’s servers. It’s something I am working on but something that I don’t think will change anytime soon – my skill that is. Another new addition to the game, this time for online, is the inclusion of the Online Association. This is where you can create your own online NBA league and play with a bunch of friends who also have the game. While in theory this sounds great, unfortunately I don’t have any friends who play NBA, let alone online.
Like basketball is supposed to be, 2K12 is very fast paced, with play going from end to end seamlessly. Although I personally find defending hard, the gameplay is still really fluid and allows the game to progress naturally. You still can’t beat getting a three-pointer as the ball goes ‘swoosh’ through the hoop, but it appears that ensuring when you have possession you get at least two points is the key to success. I advise having a look at the tutorials in the game, as there are plenty of moves available for your locker. Fade aways, lay-ups, tip-ins and of course the ever exciting and impressive slam dunks, of which there are different types and definitely worth learning. Learning all these will give you an edge over your opponent.
Graphically the game oozes vibrant colours and overall contains a polished finish. Glossy courts, realistic shirt movements reacting to player’s directional changes along with the majority of players actually looking identical to their real life counterparts are all pleasing on the eye. So much so that my brother walked past briefly asking which NBA game I was watching live on ESPN, until he noticed my 360 pad. It’s also worth noting that the game has 3D capabilities however I, like many of you, haven’t got round to upgrading to a 3DTV just yet.
NBA 2K12 is definitely a game any basketball fan should own and a game that will keep you occupied until 2K13 is released at a minimum. If I had more online friends who played the game I know I would have enjoyed the online experience more than I did, so it’s definitely a game you should check out if you know a few friends who would also play. Casual sports gamers should at least rent this game and see if it tickles your fancy. Swoosh!