Early NBA 2K11 Observations

Posted October 8th, 2010 at 4:00 pm

While I continue to collect thoughts on NBA 2K11, with plans to post full impressions on Monday, I thought I’d lay out some things worth noting early on. Outside of issues with online play and My Player mode the response to the game has been overwhelmingly positive. That is in stark contrast to how the game released last year and a testament to how much work has gone into gameplay while still adding a great deal of content. 2K11 shows that yearly sports titles don’t have to sacrifice in one area just to enhance another.

I’m absolutely loving the game. I’ve gone as far as to state that it has brought back some of the passion I used to have for NBA video games that has really been lacking this entire generation.  Years ago they used to be my favorite of the sports games to play but that hasn’t been the case for a long time. NBA 2K11 is giving me some of the feeling I used to get playing them and that is an exciting (and somewhat unexpected) development.

I think part of why I’m enjoying NBA 2K11 so much is that I’ve been able to dedicate all my time to learning the game and getting comfortable with the controls which are much improved and have become easier for me to handle. The flow of the games just feel right though there does tend to be a high number of turnovers.

One of the biggest complaints seems to be the turnovers and more specifically stolen or deflected passes. For the most part I don’t have a problem with it because it forces players to be more deliberate with their passing. However there are times where things like outlet passes or trying to hit cutters ends up being difficult to execute with how aggressive defenders play the passing lanes.

I have gotten decent results on fast breaks but the CPU defense seems to consistently have two guys back right away which takes away opportunities that probably should have been there. Very few actual advantage breaks.

The CPU seems to have a slight edge on the offensive boards. I haven’t really looked into whether that perception has anything to it or not yet.

Gameplay wise I’ve now listed out all the things that, to me, might need tweaking. That it is limited to just a few things is pretty remarkable. The game isn’t easy but it is really fun and extremely satisfying.

The presentation is great, especially the highlight packages at halftime and post-game. There are some things that have bothered me a bit though, mostly to do with slowing the game down when I’d prefer to skip through various scenes. The ones that get me the most are post-bucket replays (which prevents the ability to push the ball out quick) and during substitutions which take a bit long to get through.

Not sure what has happened to the halftime shows but they aren’t playing out completely. The around the league scores portion is completely absent. That is disappointing as I was really looking forward to that part of it.

I like the rowdy atmosphere though it seems a big much for regular season games. Do playoff games have an even further ramped up feel? I hope they end up providing a heightened sense of tension and excitement.

The commentary is solid and I especially like references to previous games in Association. However it does repeat quite a bit and not even from game to game but within a single game. I just heard a story about shortening the length of the season told twice within the span of about two minutes.

I’ve never been much of an offline franchise/association player but I’ve started up one with the Kings and have gotten hooked already. I’m looking forward to stretching it out with all the improvements made to the mode. There are some great options within there making it feel accessible to the inexperienced but also offering some real depth to those who want more.

I was disappointed by how many players are missing off the classic teams. I am beyond grateful to have the Sonics back but all they have are the starters. All the generic players on the rosters and on the benches takes a bit away from the experience of using classic teams.

There appears to be serious trouble with My Player mode as there are widespread reports of the mode freezing up after a certain number of games which seems to vary. There is a large thread in the official forum for the game discussing the matter.

I’m going to spend some time in My Player but the potential for it to freeze up is worrisome. I tend to enjoy career modes but for whatever reason My Player just hasn’t been compelling to me. The grading system is especially frustrating.

It is interesting to wonder about the “Create a Legend” mode since it doesn’t seem like any reviewers even got far enough to try it. The 10 Jordan Challenges have to be completed to reach that mode. I really hope I can get to that and I’ve finished four of them so far.

The online issues are still prevalent and I’ll be working up more detailed online impressions to come early next week. Also check out my impressions of the “Jordan Challenge” from earlier. Plenty more coverage to come. As always feel free to leave your thoughts on the game so far in the comments!