So I’ve been playing NBA 2K11 on the old Xbox 360 and to be honest with you, the game has lots of surprises. The predominant theme of the game centers around Michael Jordan mostly – and his career over the years. For me personally, this was the main reason to check the game out. It’s been so long since there was a true Jordan presence in any basketball game and to finally get one worth mentioning was definitely worth the 60 bucks. That’s not to say it was a perfect game however. But first lets take a look at the things it does well.
After your game you can take a look at the highlights of all the key players of the game by choice. It does so stylistically as well, and it really is a pleasure to see you dishing it out on opponents.
This is a collage of the different highlights of the game.
I thought this was a cool addition. It takes snapshots of the game as well so you see key plays from a photojournalist’s point of view. Very similar to what you would see at NBA.com or ESPN.com when looking through pictures of a past game.
The game actually has you collecting Air Jordans throughout your career! Different Jordan’s give your player’s different abilities. There are 40 in all to collect.
To me this is one of the coolest aspects of the game. The living roster is just what it sounds like. Players and league stats are updated in almost real-time. I’m playing a season with the Knicks right now (hapless Knick fan – what can I say?) and the interface is giving me live info on what has transpired around the league. Injuries, trade rumors, scores…its all there.
In my opinion, the second coolest aspect of the game. You get to relive all of the great Jordan moments like “the Shrug”, the 1991 NBA Finals, 69 points against the Cavaliers, and more. The game actually starts you off in Jordan’s shoes. If you are not used to the game – go ahead and exit and practice a little bit before you start playing in Jordan mode ’cause there is a lot to learn.
How it Comes Together
Why do I think the Living Roster is the coolest aspect of the game? Well its not new but it works really well this time because of the juxtaposition between the new teams and the old teams. You are solidly placed in the “here and now” because of the reference point of the old heads. The game never really feels stagnant and you aren’t stuck with buyers remorse because you just bought the game and someone got traded and now your game is out of date. I just played the Wizards and Gilbert Arenas was in the line-up. Not only that, but it also tells you about up coming games in much the same way you would see them broadcast on television.
Moving on to game-play, controlling your player is pretty easy and intuitive. You can also try your own skills with the “shot stick” (the right stick on the 360 controller). You can control how your player shoots based on your own preferences. If you get good at this – it definitely pays dividends. Everything is pretty much what you would expect up to a point. However, the more complex moves require a bit more finesse. Ball handling becomes a bit more complicated when trying to step in and do a turn move to lay-up or some other similar move. It’s not impossible, but I wonder what the the chances of executing that particular move every time you wanted would be. However, the move transitions were great, and I definitely got excited every time I pulled something off.
Each players’ real-time stats definitely meant something. I definitely felt it when a team was doing well, or doing poorly. This can be frustrating because a team that you feel you could normally beat all of a sudden becomes a challenge because they are on a real-life run. However, this is not a negative aspect because it ads to the overall realness of the game.
I also enjoyed the customization elements of the game. You can change shoe types and colors as well as appearances. I left most of it alone so that I would keep everyone’s appearances as close to their real-life counterparts as possible. However, the possibility is there.
You can also play different modes like blacktop pickup games, dunk contests, or three point shootouts. You can also team up with your friends online and start or join a “crew.” Announcer speech has been improved once again. They are generally interesting and at times I wonder if they are being updated in real time as well! The crowds have been re-worked so that they don’t look like the same 1 person duplicated 1,000 times. This time its the same 10 people duplicated 100 times each. Its not huge but its something. Plus the noise swells and decreases just like a real game depending on who is winning.
What I Didn’t Like
In an effort to make movement more lifelike, I feel like the designers went a little overboard with the player’s physics when it came to momentum. When you reach, be careful because you may end up near the half-court line for simply trying to swipe the ball. Of course that’s an exaggeration, but you get the point. Also, passing can be inaccurate and turnovers can get ridiculous. Some people will say you need to protect the ball more, but it can really get frustrating. A lot of the game is spent either stealing the ball or getting it stolen simply because passing is so inaccurate. Some reprieve is that you generally won’t find yourself passing it to a player who is out of bounds. I am so glad they fixed that issue, or play could have been unbearable.
I also wasn’t immediately wowed by the graphics this time. Not saying graphics are atrocious but I felt like no huge strides were made between 2K10 and 2K11 in terms of realistic facial expressions and jersey movements. There are some weird moments where your jersey is shaking all over the place while the player is standing still or when your clothes and body are indistinguishable. However, these issues are few and far in between and certainly don’t detract too much from what does make this game so awesome.
A solid game and must-have for a Jordan admirer. The Jordan presence alone makes it worth it. The other stuff is bonus! Real-time stats and as much customization as you can stand and there really isn’t too much to shake a finger at with this game. The transition between simulated games and real-life games are almost seamless. Playing 2K11 makes you more interested in real games and real games makes you interested in playing 2K11. If that was the intention, well played sirs…well played.