2012 is upon us and before we know it, we’ll be entering a new season of previews for this year’s basketball video games. However, before those previews begin to come out and the games themselves eventually drop in October, there’ll be official updates for NBA 2K12 and NBA Jam: On Fire Edition, along with plenty of community-made mods released for the PC versions of NBA 2K and NBA Live.
Join me as I take a look at some of the things basketball gamers have to look forward to in 2012!
Without any further ado and in no particular order…
The return of EA’s NBA sim franchise
Needless to say, the series once known as NBA Live has fallen on hard times in the past couple of years. Following what seemed to be a step in the right direction with NBA Live 10, the franchise took a huge hit with the largely negative reaction to the NBA Elite 11 demo. The reaction led to the postponement of the game’s release just a week before it was set to hit store shelves and ultimately, its cancellation. EA subsequently decided to skip the 2011/2012 NBA season as well, electing to reboot the franchise in 2012.
For some, EA’s return to the NBA sim market may not be cause for excitement and understandably so. A lot of former NBA Live fans have made the switch to NBA 2K and I think it’s fair to say that it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to win some of those folks back.
However, the door has been left open for a successful return for the franchise, under whatever name it adopts moving forward (NBA Elite is probably out). While most people would agree that NBA 2K12 is at least a very good basketball game – and I’m one of them – it isn’t perfect and certain aspects of the game have left gamers feeling disappointed. Whether it’s the shaky online support, lingering game mode issues, the approach to controls or simply a feeling that it wasn’t a big enough step forward after NBA 2K11, not everyone was completely satisfied with NBA 2K12.
That’s why EA’s franchise has a shot at recapturing a share of the market. It will require a game that’s solid across the board – good gameplay, a good variety of quality game modes, robust online support, and good presentation and graphics – but with two years to work on rebooting the franchise and discontent with NBA 2K present, the opportunity is there for the series to get back in the game. I still feel that competition is good for both companies and if we have a choice between two games that each deliver a fun NBA sim experience with their own approach to controls, so much the better for us.
Again, I’m one of the people that feels NBA 2K12 is a very good basketball game and a step forward from NBA 2K11, but it’s not without its problems…especially online. I prefer modes like offline Association and My Player so for the most part I can overlook the online issues, but the next NBA 2K title must lift its game in this area.
The good news is that NBA 2K13 will have a very solid foundation to build upon to say the least. The pieces are already in place: deep Association and My Player modes, Online Association, a huge amount of historical content and impressive gameplay. It’s a matter of updating, polishing and tweaking, while stamping out the lingering issues from connectivity problems to simulated stats. No major overhaul should be necessary for NBA 2K13 to improve on its predecessors.
Will it be a marked improvement, though? NBA 2K’s developers seem pretty keen to continue making the series better with each instalment, but will they end up resting on their laurels? NBA 2K12 garnered some impressive scores from the gaming media, including several 9.5s and 10s. Fan reaction hasn’t been as universally positive though and certain key problems serve to make those scores look a little generous. Still, I would expect NBA 2K13 to be a quality game; hopefully, the high scores and awards won’t lead to complacency and the dev team will spend as much time on the little things as they do on the next eye-catching feature.
Other possible games
So far, we know that EA’s sim series is returning and we’ll be getting a new instalment in the NBA 2K series. But what about other basketball games?
No other titles have been confirmed as yet, but EA Sports have relaunched the NBA Jam brand over the past couple of years with the 2010 reboot and NBA Jam: On Fire Edition last year. They also still have the NBA Street brand, which hasn’t seen a release since 2007’s NBA Street: Homecourt. Street characters made an appearance as unlockables in NBA Jam: OFE though, so it’s possible we might see a new NBA Street game, assuming there’ll be no yearly NBA Jam release. It also remains to be seen whether 2K Sports will use their NBA license for any other projects.
There have been some rumours that EA’s NCAA Basketball series, formerly titled NCAA March Madness, will be returning. Again, nothing has been confirmed but when production of the series halted after the release of NCAA Basketball 10, there were hints that future NCAA Basketball games were not out of the question. 2K Sports’ Community Manager Ronnie 2K has emphasised that 2K Sports do not have the college basketball license, so it seems there’ll be no College Hoops 2K13.
In any case, it will be interesting to see what else is in the pipeline – if anything – in addition to the two main NBA sims.
The PC patch for NBA 2K12
There have been mixed opinions on the official patch for NBA 2K12 that was released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game last December, but on the whole it seems the patch made some changes for the better. The main complaints seem to be about what didn’t make the cut for the patch as opposed to what actually did, so it’s probably fair to say the patched game is preferable to the game out of the box.
Unfortunately, it’s still not clear when the PC patch will be released. History would suggest late January or early February, which needless to say isn’t particularly good news for PC players eager to have the fixes that console gamers are already enjoying. Still, it’s something to look forward to and hopefully we’ll have some good news on the PC patch soon.
We should also continue to see official roster updates for NBA 2K12. The PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game have received nine official roster updates to date, though the latest roster is still missing a few players. There has been some dissatisfaction with the roster updates so far, but hopefully all the players will be added soon.
The release of REDitor and mods for NBA 2K12
On a more positive note, the release of the NBA 2K12 compatible version of REDitor is not too far away, which should greatly aid in the development of mods for the game. Modders have already been hard at work updating NBA 2K12 though and as such, we’ve got quite a selection of quality tools, mods and tutorials available. Don’t forget to check out the NLSC Forum and our Downloads section for the latest releases!
Updates for recent NBA Live PC games
However, not everyone has moved on to NBA 2K and there are still people updating the more recent PC versions of NBA Live. I myself expect to have new rosters for NBA Live 2005 through NBA Live 08 out in the not too distant future (I can’t and won’t set an exact date at this time, though) and there are some very talented people still making high quality art updates for the game, even making use of some assets from NBA 2K12. We are limited in what we can do with games designed for last gen tech, but if you are still playing those games, be sure to check out the 2011/2012 season updates as they come out.
Roster updates for NBA Jam: On Fire Edition
EA Sports have yet to make an announcement regarding the release of the roster updates for NBA Jam: On Fire Edition, but they are an advertised feature of this year’s game and apparently the system is in place. It’s just a matter of when.
Although NBA Jam: On Fire Edition has delivered what I feel is an excellent arcade basketball experience so far, roster updates would go a long way in keeping that experience fresh. No NBA Jam game has offered roster updates before and with some of the big moves that have already taken place, it’ll be fun to play with some of the new duos that updated rosters will bring. Fingers crossed, we’ll have good news on the roster updates soon.
The rest of the 2011/2012 NBA season
Or simply the fact we have a 2011/2012 season, after things looked quite bleak at times during the lockout. I think it’s fair to say that most of us who play NBA video games are also enthusiastic NBA fans, so it’s great that we’ll actually be taking in some real NBA action this year. Beyond that however, the NBA season has a big impact on our enjoyment of basketball video games.
For starters, there’s the aforementioned roster updates for NBA 2K12 and NBA Jam: On Fire Edition, which includes this year’s rookie crop; absent from both games due to the lockout, with the exception of Ricky Rubio who signed his rookie deal before the 2011 season officially concluded. Whether it’s an exciting regular season game or a frustrating loss for our favourite team, the All-Star Weekend, a big trade or the Playoffs, the NBA calendar gets us pumped for some virtual hoops as well. Simply put, with an NBA season, NBA video games hold a lot more appeal.
On that note…
The NCAA & Olympic Basketball Tournaments
The Olympic Games will take place in London this July and that means another clash of national teams in the basketball tournament. We don’t have a standalone Olympic or FIBA basketball game, but what we do have are people that can create mods based on the tournament. The Olympic tournament will offer a basketball fix during the NBA offseason and with the right community-made updates, we can get in on the action ourselves.
The same goes for the NCAA tournament. There are a couple of NCAA mods out there for college basketball junkies who want to play out their own bracket using an NBA game. There are also folks out there still making updates for College Hoops 2K8, for those who’d like to dust it off for March Madness.
With any luck, 2012 will be a good year for basketball video games. Between the new releases this October, updates for the games that came out last year and all the fantastic work the community does with our unofficial updates, there should be plenty to look forward to over the next twelve months. Be sure to keep it locked here at the NLSC, your source for basketball video games, for all the latest news, reviews, previews, mods and more!