NBA 2K12: Hits and Misses

Posted October 12th, 2011 at 3:30 pm

It was always going to be difficult to top what was practically universally beloved in NBA 2K11 – and the league lockout only introduced an additional obstacle in the way of doing so. NBA 2K12 is one of the most top heavy sports titles imaginable. What it does well is exceedingly impressive but faulty features or those that dont live up to potential do enough damage to affect the overall perception and complete value of the product. Continue on for a look at what NBA 2K12 got right and where it stumbled in this ‘Hits and Misses’ review. 


•NBA’s Greatest
This is where primary resources for NBA 2K12 were spent and it pays off with an enriching experience even if it may not have longevity beyond the first play-throughs. Check out the extensive impressions of the mode here. The authentic touches given to the 15 match-ups in terms of presentation, commentary, the nature of the audio, and rule implementation is fantastic. It’s just unfortunate that those special elements can’t be applied to games elsewhere and are instead limited to the mode itself.

•Roster of Historic Teams
NBA 2K12 features 36 historic teams – some carrying over from last year (but thankfully with more of the real players included) and several new ones being introduced. Actually the 36 is double the 18 of 2K11 so that is significant advancement. It’s a great mix of popular squads and time periods with most complaints coming from the absence of Charles Barkley and Reggie Miller (and with that no classic Pacers teams).

For those bored or fed up with the current state of the NBA the teams are all compelling in their own ways or based on individual history as a fan. For myself it’s fun to re-live the days of Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton but really all the teams of the late 80’s and 90’s for nostalgic reasons. They have to be unlocked by completing the NBA’s Greatest mode however – and the Kings and Warriors are limited to the early run of copies via insert code.

NBA 2K12 builds off what 2K11 did very well – though it doesn’t feel all that much different overall and instead has improved incrementally in a number of areas. Gameplay has been the central focus of the NBA 2K series and it still excels there. The new post-up mechanic is the biggest enhancement this year. The number of options available in the post are now numerous and work well which helps better balance out offensive effectiveness from the outside-in. I also really like the ability to contest shots or passes well with the right stick. The overall flow is quite good and fast breaks are also more effective after years of struggles in that area. There’s a rich satisfying feeling for winning or even down to executing a single play successfully.

Despite all that there are some bothersome elements such as the CPU shooting (and making) an abnormal amount of threes with far too many players capable of making them consistently, the abundance of deflected passes and inability to “thread the needle” or pass to a cutter in the paint, the lack of ability to choose to bounce pass, defensive rotations are sometimes questionable, and for some reason players can’t outstretch their arms when defending inbounds passes. It was also an odd design decision to paint gaudy giant colored circles on the court for zone defenses – though this can be turned off with “Who to Guard” in the controller settings.

The broadcast style presentation is enhanced this year – with new camera angles, intros, and quarter-breaks. “Playoff crowds” finally make an appearance and greatly improve the atmosphere. The crowd doesn’t always react properly to events but are much improved otherwise. NBA 2K continues its excellence in commentary with Steve Kerr as an additional analyst. It’s very impressive how the commentary flows – even if something happens on the court that needs to be addressed immediately the guys will go back to and continue the story from the point they left off. The new pre-game intros are sharp as well.


•My Player
What was supposed to be a huge improvement to the career mode is fatally hampered by incredibly bad trade logic. Check out the extensive impressions of the mode here. Rosters are constantly churning – often through trades that made no sense for the team or involve big name players that would never be moved. The gameplay experience is still lacking due to poor teammate AI, opponent 3PT attempts/percentages too high (no sliders in this mode), and difficulty in simply moving around as players are like magnets pulling the user into what become akin to brick walls. Despite having the NBA Draft with generated players they actually aren’t added to the team rosters which creates issues of its own. There is also a freeze that halts progress if the user’s team wins the Championship. My Player does do some things well – its attempts to implement more off-the-court elements are appreciated but they mean little when everything else isn’t properly established first.

•Online Play/Online Association
Arguably the worst online experience in years and little progress has been made in the last week plus since release. Check out the extensive impressions of the mode here. Online play is plagued by overwhelming numbers of disconnects and heavy lag/poor responsiveness – while popular modes such as Crew were removed without any prior notification or even acknowledgement since. It’s embarrassing that the promoted new website, which is to house important features consumers were anticipating, not only wasn’t ready for release day but remains unlaunched. The biggest disappointment comes with Online Association – admirable in the goal of delivering an online component to the complete offline mode – but coming up short by not including all the necessary options and admin control.

•NBA Lockout
This is no fault of 2K Sports but the lockout does have an effect on the product’s value. 2K was smart to increase the presence of legends and historic teams in a year when fans would potentially be turned off by today’s NBA. They could have planned a bit better though by expanding NBA’s Greatest presentation for use elsewhere, making it easy to edit historic teams and move players onto other rosters, and by allowing historic teams to be used online (without having to pay for it through upcoming DLC). The lack of rookies does sting even in a down year for talent and well-received features such as NBA Today are rendered irrelevant.

NBA 2K12 is a game that one desperately wants to love but the severely troubled features make it difficult to do so. Coming off a year in which NBA 2K11 delivered just about the total package – 2K12 extends on a good thing with its historic team-related content and the relevance to the product but otherwise fails to come near re-creating the perfect storm of last year.

Previous Coverage
Online Association Impressions
Online Play Impressions
NBA’s Greatest Impressions
Regarding the Uproar (Blog)
An Opening for EA NBA? (Blog)
My Player Impressions
Online Problems Persist
New Jerseys Leaked
360 Hard Drive Loading Analysis