NBA 2K12 Impressions: NBA’s Greatest

Posted October 10th, 2011 at 11:15 am

There is no doubt what mode shines this year for NBA 2K12 – not just in concept but also in execution. NBA’s Greatest mode delivers some fantastic historic teams in a setting representative of their day. In a year marred by the league lockout it successfully energizes the product while continuing to educate fans. 

The first thing I noticed when playing through the initial match-up between the Bulls and Hornets was the lack of zone defense – which was prohibited in the league until 2001. It’s touches like those that really deliver the immersive nature of playing in the “past”.

Go back far enough and you’ll find the periods where the three-pointer hadn’t even been instituted, jump balls occurred at the start of every quarter, the three-to-make-two free throws, and so on. Playing under different circumstances provides an element of uniqueness without needing to take an “arcade-game” angle to do so and instead stay authentic in the process.

Beyond that though is the way in which the games are presented. They are given a visual look meant to reflect how they appeared on TV at that time and even the audio is made to sound rougher or as though it was coming through on the radio. Very cool stuff – though there have been a smattering of reports from some that the old-time audio isn’t actually coming through (not sure if that is isolated to the PS3 or exactly how widespread it is).

Special commentary was recorded to discuss the various legends and though it’s a little odd to hear players in action being talked about in the past tense it all works as a way to learn about what was going on at a certain time in the league and the impact those players had on the game.

Compared to “The Jordan Challenge” of NBA 2K11 these games don’t have certain goals that are required to be met to achieve success – all that matters is winning. It made sense to force certain stat lines last year since the idea was to remember the games for Michael Jordan’s performances. It was a smart move now though to take away that element of stress and give people the chance to simply enjoy the games naturally. For the sake of unlocking ease, difficulty level and quarter length can be adjusted and carried over to the “Greatest” games.

The biggest downside to NBA’s Greatest is that the unique presentation sets are exclusive to the mode. It hasn’t been made possible to take, say the 1971 presentation and rules, and apply it to a quick game involving any pairing of teams. It also means being stuck playing just a single side with that presentation – if you’re a fan of  64-65 Lakers then you’ll be able to control them in quick games but not with the cool presentation touches or special rules. After completing the 15 match-ups there is no real incentive to go back to the mode. There are also a few things that stand out – like minor rules that are off or players making dunks or performing dribble moves that weren’t done back then.

Though there is no real goal beyond unlocking all the historic teams NBA’s Greatest makes for a fantastic run through some of the most intriguing match-ups of the past. Most impressive are the implementation of unique rules and presentation elements – it’s just unfortunate that it all stays confined to the mode itself.

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Upcoming: My Player (tonight) – Online Play (Tuesday) – Hits and Misses Review (Wed or Fri)