Welcome to the second part of a three part roundtable discussion of NBA 2K12 between Patrick (Pdub), Jon (JaoSming), Lean, The X and myself. Yesterday in part one, we offered our initial impressions of the game with quick thoughts on our favourite additions and biggest complaints. Today we’re taking a look at gameplay along with Association and My Player. Check back tomorrow for our impressions on NBA’s Greatest and presentation, along with some closing thoughts on the game.
Andrew: There are some AI quirks and there are elements of the controls I’m not completely fond of, but NBA 2K12 plays a pretty good game of basketball for the most part. Controls are responsive and smooth, for me there are far less out of control movements this year; NBA 2K11 did show improvement in that area but NBA 2K12 has taken it a step further. Playcalling is excellent and for the most part I feel rewarded for playing good basketball, though there are still some balance issues where the CPU seems more adept at making the tough play or can move faster than you can.
Jon: The live ball physics are my favorite addition to the game. It can get frustrating in traffic but overall it forces the user to play smarter. While I still don’t like the AI’s defense against user passing, the gameplay seems more refined and better than 2K11. The biggest change that didn’t need to be changed was how the user defends on ball. Not using the LT defensive stance button with a combination of LT + RT has been working well for me, but it would have been easier if they just left this aspect of the game alone.
Patrick: Top Notch with a few hiccups. The new plays with branching options are fantastic. I love the new post controls. They are much more responsive than in years past and have a lot more variety. Teams play substantially different from one another. The AI has improved almost too much. CPU opponents rarely make unforced mistakes, and can always find the open man. They definitely look for the best shot on each possession. There is an issue that is most likely from the pre-rotation help defense where a cpu defender will just run away from their assignment. I’m sure there is a setting that can fix this, but it shouldn’t be there in the first place. There was an issue with too many 3 pointers being shot and made and either we all adjusted, or 2K tuned it behind the scenes, but it seems to have been fixed. Gameplay is still NBA 2K’s best feature.
Lean: Generally speaking, the gameplay feels a lot slower this year compared to 2K11. I played my usual 8 minutes per quarter and the pacing came out with a low-scoring game (below my average from 2K11) . There are some spots that I felt that the CPU is “cheating”, as there are still some traces of blind pass interceptions, faster defense transitions on the fastbreak, high jump shot accuracy among others, but again the sliders can be your friend. Star players are easier to use compared to their teammates and can be more like their real-like counterparts if you choose to play their style. For instance, I played using the Bulls and have Rose score 33 compared to what average output of 22 points a game; and Rose is much more effective as a slasher than a shooter in 2K12.
Shot release timing is much more strict this year around and it is a nice touch to actually have an indicator in-game for a proper release. There are some instances on defense wherein the player you’re using does not respond. One play that I pressed dive then it took me pressing the button twice before the player actually does the action resulting into an out of bounds play.
The X: Gameplay feels pretty smooth. I still have much to learn control-wise and can’t always pull off the move I want to, but overall the level of control is better. Some of the frustrating glitches/bugs (e.g. basic inbound passes overshooting the recipient and going out of bounds) have been removed whilst some still remain (and new ones have appeared).
At first I wasn’t overly impressed with the gameplay, although I believe a lot of that was me not being use to the changes to the offensive and defensive controls. I’m glad they got rid of some of the cheese steals, although there are still frustrating moments with them. The more frustrating part is when you intend a pass to go to a player and it goes to a different one. The passing game still needs work and we should be able to should shoulder bumpers/triggers to initiate different passes (i.e. bounce passes, lob passes etc). and you’ve got to play the game different (and smarter) than you do with 2K11.
The CPU seems to play a lot smarter, they have less scripted offense and star players can give you real nightmares. I like how they’ve made players like Nash, Nowitzki and Dwight a lot more impressive and you don’t have to be a wing superstar to dominate.
One last facet I wanted to briefly touch on is the greatly improved playcalling system and number of individual plays in game. It’s actually worth using this year and has been incorporated well.
Andrew: Association still has great depth, but is marred by a few distracting issues. Simulated stats are pretty good, but there are still some weird results. Trade logic desperately needed some fine tuning, but didn’t get it. The new free agency negotiation phase of the offseason is functional but a little confusing at first, particularly when it comes to restricted free agency. More detailed instructions in the manual or game itself would be helpful. Ultimately, you can’t fault the depth of the mode but certain elements still leave something to be desired. A bit disappointing they didn’t fix the simulated stats and logic/AI issues.
Jon: Association seems relatively unchanged to me. Some of the in-game presentation elements such as the new commercials and the mini-ad in the bottom left of the screen are really cool, but overall it seems to be the same old stuff. But keeping it the same wasn’t exactly a bad thing, the mode is still very good and very fun. I think the biggest and best improvement are the new development drills. They are harder, longer, and give a bigger reward to the player that finishes them.
Patrick: Continues to be the deepest mode of the game. Not much has changed, which is good, since it has been the best part of the 2K series for several years, now. They streamlined the free agent signing process, but I like the old interface that showed you all the players you were offering contracts to and the highest offer so you could match or make a better offer. I can understand why this mode does not have many changes. They were getting it to function online like everybody wanted. I haven’t experienced the team statistic and trade issues, although I was offered a lot of trades by other teams, just looking at the offers, there is definitely an issue.
The X: You know, I’ll give credit where it is due as it looks to be slightly better than 2K11’s impressive offering for the Association mode. Being able to extend contracts, better generic draft classes (i.e. a couple of rookies can actually averaging 15-20ppg due to better shot tendencies, meanwhile lower ratings across board), improved dynamic commentary, trade AI appears to be marginally better than last year. Also, free agent contracts given to role players and young players with potential don’t seem as blatantly bad as 2K11. Finally, if a player is traded then his plays will go with him, which is a very good and underrated inclusion.
On the downside, unfortunately sim stats seem to be slightly worse than 2K11. At the moment, there’s too many high scorers near 30ppg and PER’s are through the roof for the league’s elite, meanwhile assist totals for some of the league’s best point guard are too low (e.g. Steve Nash only averaging around 6.5apg). The trade logic AI still definitely needs work with it currently being too easy to trade for 1st round picks and the roster imbalance problems (three to four quality point guards on one team comes to mind) still exist. It would be nice if there was a league trade veto option in Association mode so that we could veto any trade in the league that we deem is too lopsided or create a big roster imbalance to make up for the mode’s shortcomings.
Overall, whilst the above are not mode breakers and I’ll once again spend plenty of time playing Association, it is nonetheless a bit disappointing that the obvious trouble areas from previous 2K’s remain largely untouched and seem to have once again been forgotten by 2K.
Andrew: I haven’t run into too many issues so far but seeing what a few of our members have posted in the Forum so far, it seems there are a few annoying issues that I’m likely to run into at some point. I like the new approach of starting off with better ratings and getting to your career quicker and the added depth with endorsements, less generic interview options, salaries, player upgrades and so on is great. The tweaks to the grading system are also very welcome and probably one of the biggest improvements, albeit not the flashiest. It seems a lot fairer this year with more rewards for good play as opposed to last year, where it seemed skewed towards punishing mistakes.
Jon: I’ve only played through the first couple of NBA games in My Player but the new direction of the presentation and off-court activities seem to make the mode a lot more likable. I am one of those crazy people that liked to work my way through the D-League in 2K10 and 2K11, so being an automatic first rounder no matter your performance or interview answers is disappointing to me. Adding the Creating a Legend mode was a very smart move by 2K this year and should prove to be popular considering how popular the modified NBA My Player saves were for 2K11.
Patrick: The improvements to My Player mode are amazing. There is a lot of content here. Endorsements, budgeting your salary on skills, signature packages, and popularity events. Player milestones and hall of fame requirements give the mode longevity. The improvements to this mode are not just in the front end. The gameplay does quite well this year, allowing you to really be a part of your team, rather than just a body on the court. There are still a few team grade hiccups, but most of them have been improved.
Lean: I must say that they have this mode revamped for the better. My only gripe is the somehow unforgiving rating judgment, like “Shot Blocked.” Given, that you have to adjust your shot, there’s still a chance to get blocked and so on. That being said, your player starts as a rookie and are bound to make mistakes.
The X: I didn’t even look at this mode in 2K11, but it appears notably improved from 2K10. I don’t know if I’ll play it much, but might give it a go if 2K releases a patch to fix the terrible trade logic in this mode (i.e. a lot worse than Association mode).
Be sure to look out for part three tomorrow, where we’ll give our thoughts on NBA’s Greatest, presentation and a couple of topics as we wrap up the roundtable!