Since this generation of video game consoles began, NBA 2K has been far ahead of the competition. Last year, 2K sports released NBA 2K11, which could easily be thrown in the debate of greatest sports games of all time. To make things more interesting, their only competition, EA Sports, failed to produce a title they felt worth putting on the market and announced that they would not put out another NBA simulation until 2012.
Given their recent success and lack of anything resembling competition, 2K Sports could have simply put out a roster update and a couple of patches and called it a new game. NBA 2K12 is a much more ambitious outing than this—for both good and bad.
NBA 2K12 features the standard graphics update, as this year’s game looks just a little better than its predecessor. Both player models and animations have taken yet another step closer to reality.
A staple to the NBA 2K franchise has been painstaking attention to detail. 2K12 is no exception. The amount of shoes, jerseys, hairstyles and jumpshots recreated to near perfection is perhaps one of the most impressive qualities of the game.
As of press time, the game features no new game play modes but several innovations have been made on what were already solid modes.
Last year’s big feature was the addition of the Jordan Challenge. This game mode gave gamers a chance to relive some of Jordan’s greatest moments. This has been expanded in this year’s title by including a bunch of other legends such as Larry bird, Magic Johnson and Isaiah Thomas. The new batch of legends is a welcome addition but the Legend Challenge feels a little dumb down in this rendition. Rather than having to satisfy certain conditions like in the original Jordan Challenge, this go around players are just tasked with winning a game with one of the classic teams.
My Player mode returns with all of the fun of the previous years plus a couple small renovations. The addition of a monetary system and new drills to improve your player’s skill sets makes this mode just a little bit deeper and more satisfying.
One aspect of 2K12 that will turn some gamers away is the tough learning curve. Even players who have invested time into the franchise over the past couple years will have to take a moment to get used to the new controls. 2K Sports has added a bunch of new button presses—some make the game more difficult to control but many of the new corresponding animations are smoother than ever.
From a gameplay standpoint, the new and improved shot stick stands out far more than any of the other new features. A ton of shot animations have been added. From Dirk Notwitski’s awkward one-legged fade-aways to Kareem Abdul Jabar’s skyhooks, gamers now have a seemingly endless amount of maneuvers to go to on offense.
Ultimately, those who take time to get past the steep learning curve will find a title with depth that rivals all of the top sports simulations. NBA 2K12 is not an improvement over last year’s title but it is a respectable follow up.