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Andrew’s NBA 2K12 Demo Impressions

Having spent a couple of days playing several games of the NBA 2K12 demo, I feel it’s time to post some impressions. In a nutshell, I’m liking what I’m seeing and am definitely looking forward to the full game, though like a lot of people I did feel a little disappointed that the demo is as stripped down as it is and would’ve liked more of an opportunity to sample what’s on offer this year.

In any case, please read on for my full demo impressions, feel free to leave a comment and don’t forget to add your impressions here in the NLSC Forum. For those who haven’t seen JaoSming’s write-up on the demo be sure to check it out here, as he has updated it with some additional thoughts after further hands-on time.

First, I’d like to get the matter of the barebones demo out of the way. I can understand 2K Sports not wanting to give too much away and being confident in their product after their recent success, but releasing such a shallow demo is a bit of a letdown. While the NBA Elite 11 demo didn’t exactly blow people away last year, it did provide us with a decent glimpse of the game with a full twelve minute quarter, a complete game from Become Legendary and the ability to shoot around in the practice gym. At least letting us shoot around in the NBA 2K12 demo in addition to a quarter of gameplay – even an abbreviated one – would’ve been good.

One four minute quarter with no commentary or playcalling doesn’t give us much of a chance to get a taste of and appreciate some of the improvements that the developers have been talking about in recent Insights. Likewise, locking the demo to the default difficulty and casual sliders can’t give everyone a good idea of how the game will play with the settings that they like to play on. Several good things are apparent regardless, but it’d be nice to have just a little more from the demo than what was on offer.

Having said that, I do like what I see from the demo. It’s hard to get a full feel for the presentation without commentary and some of the other bells and whistles, but it’s apparent that they’ve continued to put work into it, not only for NBA’s Greatest (as we’ve seen in so many of the previews) but also the presentation for current NBA games. As I understand it, the full version will offer some variation with the introductions but the one we see in the demo is pretty cool and very reminiscent of a real NBA broadcast, which I’d say is what most of us want to see.

Once I began playing, I immediately noticed the smoothness and responsiveness of the controls, which do feel like a step up from last year. I haven’t felt out of control too many times playing the demo and find myself transitioning into different moves with ease, without too much “clunkiness” that I felt was still there at times in NBA 2K11. I do sometimes feel a step too slow on defense, especially when defending against the drive, but I think it’s more the fact I’m still getting used to feathering the controls and using the right amount of left stick movement, after years of holding the stick fully in a direction to stay with an offensive player.

I’m still trying out all the moves, referring to the cheat sheet 2K Sports provided Operation Sports with and some of the videos that have been posted, but for the most part everything feels intuitive and looks great. The controls offer a desirable amount of complexity, allowing us to perform all kinds of moves on cue, but are still simple enough to learn and I’m sure in time, master. I still see myself spending a lot of time with the new Training Camp mode to really get a feel for things and nail down all the moves and nuances of the left stick. So far though, I like what I see from both the new post game, jumpshots and moves off the dribble.

Since playcalling is not available in the demo and we’re locked to casual sliders, it’s difficult to really get an idea for the level of realism from the demo, where shooting percentages are quite high. I prefer to play on sim sliders and quite liked the results last year with the presets out of the box, so I trust I’ll be on the right track with sim sliders in the full version of NBA 2K12. However, NBA 2K12 is obviously a sim game at its core so even with the limitations of the demo I saw things I’d expect to see in real life as far as player roles and tendencies and the general style of play. Additionally, even without playcalling I noticed players setting screens, rolling to the basket and helping out on defense, so it’s safe to say CPU controlled players, both your teammates and opponents, have a “brain”.

Despite assurances that psychic steals are a thing of the past, I noticed quite a few while playing the demo that could qualify as such. For now I’m willing to chalk it up to the sliders we’re locked to in the demo, on sim settings or with the appropriate custom tweaks it might not be an issue. It doesn’t seem to be quite the same problem as last year, however. I also find myself coughing up the ball a bit while the CPU does a better job keeping things under control, but once again given the settings of the demo I’d rather wait until I play the full version to make a judgement on that. The live-ball stuff is pretty good in general though, I haven’t experienced any front row interactions yet but I’ll try and force some in future games.

All in all, I’m looking forward to the full game but it would’ve been nice to get just a bit more of a look at it in the demo. For anyone still on the fence about NBA 2K12, you’ll certainly want to give it a look but to echo what I said in my impressions of the NBA 2K11 demo last year, it might be worth shelling out a few bucks to rent the game first to really get an idea of what to expect.

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