NBA 2K11 Hits and Misses

by
Posted October 18th, 2010 at 12:01 pm

NBA 2K11 has now been out for two weeks allowing plenty of time to assess what the game has done well and where it fell short. While there are certainly some issues to look at for an upcoming patch the game delivered in just about every way imaginable. Here are what I perceive to be the hits and misses for NBA 2K11.

Hits

  • Michael Jordan

Both the Jordan Challenge and Creating a Legend modes are compelling and enjoyable. The resources that went into creating these turned out to be well worth it.

The Jordan Challenge (see my full impressions here) really captures the history of the moments and even includes some great throwback touches. Being locked to eight minute quarters adds some pressure forcing a play style that will not be natural to some. Still the challenges have proven to be fun and very satisfying when achieved.

Creating a Legend (see my full impressions here) on the other hand takes My Player mode and makes it fun by controlling a guy who is talented at the start (and only going to get better) with the playing time to match. It lacks the press conferences and endorsements found in My Player but the trade-off is worth it. It is great being able to choose the team to start with as well as the capability to request trades. Very much looking forward to seeing Jordan progress and age through his career.

  • Association

This is the first time in years I’ve been interested in playing beyond a few games in an NBA title’s franchise mode. The wide array of options makes Association approachable for both casuals and hardcore. NBA.com and NBA Today features add a lot to the experience.

There are some big issues that have been discovered with the mode however. Home court advantage in sims produces blowout wins, there are problems with trades and free agency after the first draft, and the halftime show is missing the portion showing scores from around the league. They all seem to potentially be fixable with a patch.

  • Classic Teams

One thing I was really looking forward to was the opportunity to play with the Seattle Sonics. Part of the reason why I have had trouble getting into NBA games as of late is that my team was stolen away and I have no emotional attachment to anyone else.

Getting to play with guys like Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp is simply awesome. It’s a shame that most of the classic teams are missing their bench players (the Sonics only have their starting five) but at least the main guys are there.

I’m sure there are many people out there who have similar emotions using teams they followed in the past and 2K11 includes 18 of them. Hopefully we see more teams added and expanded ways to use them in future additions.

  • Depth

NBA 2K11 packs in a ton of content. Standard games and basic functioning online play, the two Michael Jordan modes, Association mode, My Player, and classic teams. Beyond that they haven’t gone out of their way to milk consumers through DLC or unlockables. That could have been done with getting to Creating a Legend but instead a free unlock code was discovered.

  • General Gameplay

The gameplay continues to be the main strength of the series, though that is now matched by the feature set. Games flow at a nice pace and the crowd atmosphere adds excitement. All this has been done without resorting to gimmicks.

Misses

  • Online Play

While not the complete disaster of previous years (check out my full online impressions here) it remains a weakness for the series. The biggest issue comes with shot timing being difficult to discern and outside shooting almost non-existent in online games due to that. Co-op modes such as Team-Up and Crew are unreliable. Design decisions with the menus and choosing to place gamertags under each player rather than the player names causes a bit of trouble. There is some surprise that Michael Jordan (and the classic teams) can’t be played with online in any capacity as well.

  • My Player

While the Creating a Legend version of My Player provides quite a bit of fun, actual My Player mode is full of frustration. Starting with such a low rating (in the 30s) takes a lot of the enjoyment out of it early on. The grading system penalizes for very questionable actions or things outside of your control though it is a little more forgiving this year at least.

The press conferences added to the mode this year are a cool touch but much of the time the questions are completely out of context as to what happened in the game and your role in the outcome. The teammate CPU AI can also be completely inept at times.

A major issue with My Player mode reaching a freezing point was discovered soon after release of the game. It is unfortunate that the time being invested in the mode is being wasted and nothing about a fix for this has been discussed yet.

  • Control

Given that NBA 2K11 is the only NBA game on the market this year it has become easier to get accustomed to the controls. Isomotion though remains uncomfortable at times and definitely isn’t a user-friendly control system for novices.

Passing is troubled and that isn’t limited to the number of deflected passes. The directional passing can’t be relied upon. In many cases pointing a certain direction towards an intended recipient and passing sends the ball to someone unexpected.

Issues are not just with the mechanics and results of the controls but also with the control over the players. While certainly cases are much more limited than in the past there are still instances where players get stuck in animations. When under the basket players tend not to go up strong with the ball or make an unnatural move to take an awkward looking shot.

The biggest compliment I can give NBA 2K11 is that unearthed my passion for NBA gaming which had gone missing for many years. The use of Michael Jordan is fantastic, the classic teams add a new element of intrigue, and the gameplay is grounded and fun. Online play still has some struggles but that can be managed if the necessary resources are put into improving it. NBA 2K11 is clearly one of the best, and most well-rounded, sports games of the year.

  • Snakedoc33

    i was playing NBA Live 10 with the latest roster updates and I cant stop playing it! its just so much more fun, more responsive, better controls, better online. I kicked butt using John Wall online!!! 40 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks vs Miami and John Wall won the game for me in the 4th quarter after trailing all game. NBA LIve 10 is da best!!! I cant go back to 2k11 now. I just can’t…..

  • DonPascualino

    Totally agree with the article. Good summary ! ;D
    I definitely hoping for a patch to fix these online problems most importantly.

  • FOOliobrown

    Anybody realize that 2K has never had the naming rights for Madison Square Garden or the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston. The game names them Knicks Arena and Celtics Arena respectively. Why is this? And if you are going to add the classic teams in there, then you must add the old arenas (ex. The LA Forum, Old Boston Garden, KeyArena(Seattle), The Summit(Houston) etc)