Initial NBA 2K12 Impressions by fjccommish

The following is a write-up by fjccommish, who last week talked about some of the pitfalls gamers encounter when trying to get early copies of a game. fjccommish has spent some time with NBA 2K12 and contributed these initial impressions of the game to be published in The Soapbox.

Here are some initial impressions of NBA 2K12. This impressions discussion won’t go into detail of all the modes or the whole game. It’s not intended as a complete review.

Overall

Frankly, NBA 2K11 wasn’t a lot of fun in the long run. Even with slider adjustments it was too easy to get to the basket with guys like MJ, Kobe or LeBron. The game was interesting for a month or so, but didn’t have excellent long term replay value.

NBA 2K12 has the fun factor for replay value

As an offline only player, the reason for this was mostly that the CPU’s offense was pretty stagnant. After a half of play, a gamer could anticipate CPU moves at key moments for critical steals and points. On the flip side, solid D didn’t seem to make much difference as guys would hit light outs even with a hand in their face. There was no payoff for good D, such as holding the CPU team to 80 points.

At HOF difficulty with custom sliders, the CPU gave an overall competitive game but it didn’t feel like basketball. It was a series of the gamer-controlled player driving and dunking and the CPU hitting from every spot with a hand in their face. Every game felt the same: a big time score fest.

2K has improved on the gameplay for 2K12. The CPU offense is not stagnant, while stopping the CPU offense is no longer a matter of memorizing plays. It’s a matter of good, solid D and good D pays dividends. It is possible to shut down the CPU to the tune of 80 or fewer points if the gamer plays focused D.

So far play has resulted in 112-90 games and almost never-seen-in-2K11 85-80 games. This isn’t just D, because different teams play at different tempos.

As for offense, there are a lot more options and variety other than “run around until a lane opens for a dunk”. Learning the plays and reacting to open options is critical. The post game is excellent and it’s worthwhile learning the moves. Offense is a lot more fun than it was in 2K11.

Overall, this feels like a game that has a year of replay value. If no 2K basketball game were available in 2012, this one would suffice for two years. It’s fun.

Improvements

– Gameplay, of course. Not only does the CPU play better with improved plays, individuals play better. There are lots of pump fakes and players try to create space and get by defenders with moves and dribbling.

– Jordan Challenge is expanded and improved upon with NBA’s Greatest. Playing those legendary games just to win, rather than to score 50 points or meet some milestone, is more fun. As much fun as it was to recreate Jordan’s moments, it’s even better to play all the different classic teams.

– Creating a Legend with legendary players is somewhat awesome. Will Jordan win six titles, or more, with the modern Bulls and a gamer in control? Can a gamer guide Bird or Magic to a few more titles at the end of their careers? How would Bill Russell do, in the hands of a gamer, in the current NBA?

– The Playoffs and Season don’t feature as much home court advantage in simmed games, meaning elite teams win 55+ games more often. Playoffs don’t include constant 4-3 series with home blowouts each way, as in 2K11.

– Commentary is greatly improved in modes such as Association and Creating a Legend and there is more contextual commentary. For example, in year two of an Association the Bulls and Mavericks met on opening day and the Bulls had beaten the Mavericks in the 2012 Finals. The game opened with a discussion of why this opening match-up was a big one between the teams that competed in the Finals last season. They then talked about Dallas having extra motivation against the Bulls after losing that finals series.

Issues

– 2K12 still has a lot of bumping and holding. In fact, tiny guys can completely immobilize big centers and power forwards. It’s frustrating when the CPU holds a player away from completing a play. Slider adjustments are necessary.

– Speaking of plays, there’s a problem with gamer-controlled player screens in plays. Unless the player is on the exact spot when setting the screen, it doesn’t count. The play partially stops (some parts still run) until the gamer sets the screen at the exact point. For the most part, the gamer-controlled player has to be far too precise when hitting spots on the court. It sometimes results in easy steals because an opposing player is between the player holding the ball and the exact spot where the gamer-controlled player must go to receive the ball.

– Getting legendary players into Creating a Legend mode or onto normal team rosters outside Association is a little complex. It would be nice if that worked directly from the main roster management menu. Maybe 2K can patch that, or at least explain why it isn’t easy.

– This isn’t really an issue but rather an inconvenience. Unless playing Creating a Legend or My Player as a PG, the play calls aren’t available in the game. In 2K11 they became available to players after some experience but so far through half a season in Creating a Legend (playing as 85/86 Jordan), they aren’t available. It makes sense in the context of the game, but it would be nice to always have playcalling ability in exhibition, Season and Association games.

– Stern’s opening speech at the Draft and the announcing of each pick gets tiring season after a season. It’s a nice feature, but it’s going to make running Associations a chore when it comes to Draft time. The only option to skip it is to have the CPU complete the draft.

– For some odd reason during the draft, the black bar that shows team names (eg “Jazz Select: RD PK”) breaks up as if it’s disintegrating. Then black flecks float towards the left. It doesn’t affect anything, it’s just strange.

– Big men dribble more than they should, and make moves they shouldn’t make. In one game Tim Duncan started at the three point line, dribble spun, dribbled behind his back through two defenders, dribble spun a second time then dunked.

– Sometimes teams offer a trade during the Draft, then decline it. For example, in one case Denver offered SG R. Stanley and a 2nd round pick for the Bulls (gamer-controlled) 2nd round pick and Center Asik, but then said they didn’t want to lose a SG. They offered the trade! If they wanted a SG thrown in, why didn’t they make that part of the offered trade?

– When David Stern announces that the second round will be conducted by Adam Silver, Stern morphs into Silver while in the middle of his announcement. What?!? Yup, it’s Adam Silver speaking in Stern’s voice. Plus Silver doesn’t walk to the podium. [i]Stern turns into Silver[/i].

– Contextual commentary isn’t perfect. For example, in the opening season game mentioned above, they didn’t mention that Rose left the Bulls in the offseason. They also didn’t mention the created center who led the Bulls in scoring and rebounding. When announcing the starting lineups they mentioned a real player as leading the Bulls in scoring, even though he hadn’t led the Bulls in scoring in 2011/2012.

– During some games there was slow down on the PS3. It felt like a PC game when a Windows update is installing; it’s that bad. It only happened once in about 25 games, so hopefully it’s not common.

– There’s an odd glitch that shows some teams’ previous season record in team history as a combination of its record for the past two seasons.

– Still not enough past season stats. Still no save of the previous seasons’ playoff brackets. On PC in particular, an option to save this info would be excellent.

– Back to that Draft. With the 20th pick in the NBA draft, can someone call Stern/Silver away from that podium? This is taking forever!

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