|System: Xbox 360, PS3, PS2, Wii, PSP, PC|
|Dev: Visual Concepts|
|Pub: 2K Games|
|Release: October 4, 2011|
|Players: 1 (2+ Online)|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
Frankly, I didn't think that 2K Games was going to be able to outdo themselves; NBA 2K11 was pretty much exactly what I wanted from a basketball game. But 2K12 includes new features I didn't even know to ask for. They overhauled the presentation, streamlined the gameplay, added brand new modes, and refined the movements of each model to look far more realistic. (Yet the players' faces still look like poorly photocopied crime scene witness recount sketches. Oh well, I'm not going to nitpick.) 2K12 is a truly great basketball game.
The first thing you'll notice is that the menu screen in the game has changed. Every mode in the game—from Quick Play to Create-a-Player to the new NBA's Greatest mode—is right there on the "front page" so to speak, and can be accessed with little to no loading time. No one really complained about the menus from 2K11, but these are even better.
The NBA's Greatest mode, in my opinion, is the coolest mode in the game. Remember the Jordan Challenges from 2K11? It's a lot like those, but the greatness doesn't stop at the former star of Space Jam. This time around, you will be able to control all of the great NBA stars of the past, from Larry Bird to Magic Johnson to Shaquille O'Neal.
Back in 2K11, the challenges would task you with completing different objectives over the course of a game. Instead, NBA's Greatest simply asks you to win each dream matchup game. Some might say this removes a bit of the depth from the game, but in my opinion, it actually streamlines it. The challenges in 2K11 were a bit too tedious for me, and frankly, I'd rather blow my way through the NBA's Greatest mode for the unlockable rewards: the teams themselves. Every team and player that you play as or against can be unlocked, allowing you to put together your own dream matches.
Oh, and fantasy games are presented in the style of their appropriate time period. This means that matches with Bill Russell and the 60's Celtics are done in glorious campy black and white. Unfortunately, the 80s games aren't nearly cheesy enough, but I can overlook that.
I have to hand it to 2K, they certainly know how to present a sports game. Each and every game you play is presented as a television sportscast, and while this is pretty much the norm for sports games today, 2K12 has nailed everything right down to the last detail. As you play, you'll see advertisements for other games, miscellaneous scores and results, and stats for individual players. The commentators will rattle off trivia about the players you are currently controlling and the teams that are currently facing each other. Actually, what's really cool is that this commentary changes in the NBA's Greatest mode. Instead of rattling off trivia about current day players and teams, they rattle off trivia that was relevant at the time the game is supposed to be taking place in.
My Player mode has also gotten a face lift in many different ways. They have severely shortened the time it takes to get to the NBA. Instead of futzing around in pickup games, your character just plays one single game before interviewing with potential professional teams, then it's straight on to the NBA draft. After that, you proceed as normal, leveling up your stats and completing objectives in an attempt to be a worthwhile team player. 2K12 starts you off with higher stats than 2K11, but it also gives you the overarching goal of getting into the Hall of Fame, so the game is simultaneously easier and harder at the same time. Overall, I'd say My Player mode has been made much less frustrating but no less fun. (Oh, and the press conferences are a real treat to watch.)
Then there's Association, the franchise mode, which is pretty much what you would expect. You get to control a team and follow it through an entire season of matchups. Once again, this mode shines in presentation, with everything from team intros to mascots being accounted for. It's mostly the same mode you remember from last year, but this time around you can play it online. This means you can play with your friends for an entire season. Of course, there is also a robust online suit for other modes too. Whether you are in it for the long haul or you just want a quick pickup game, 2K12 has you covered.