NBA 2K11

Legendary!

By King, Posted 13 Aug 2011

When you put the most famous basketball player of all-time on the cover of your game, you automatically set the bar extremely high. Michael Jordan, considered by some to be the best to ever step foot on the hardwood, was surprisingly made the cover boy of the latest edition to 2K's venerable franchise.

The inclusion of MJ is more than just just a ploy to put him on the cover and move more units. A new feature this year is the Jordan Challenge. This mode allows you to re-enact 10 of Jordan's greatest games ever, which the man himself helped pick out. From Jordan's 63 point showing in 1986 against the Bird-lead Celtics to the “Flu Game” heroics against the Jazz in the 1997 NBA Finals. 

These 10 moments feature unique presentation and commentary, as well as accurate rosters (for both the Bulls and opponents) to make it feel like you're in that time period, watching MJ hit the game winning shot 15 years ago. Each game has specific goals you must achieve to successfully complete the challenge, such as scoring a certain amount of points, grabbing x amount of rebounds, and making sure you come away with a win.

As much fun as it is playing as his Airness in his prime, the moments lose a bit of their fun before you complete all of them, as you may grow tired of being forced to focus on upping Jordan's stats, and cheesing away to make sure you accomplish the goals. Thankfully, you can use all of the classic teams including all the late 80's to mid 90's Bulls, along with the 1990 “Bad Boy” Pistons and 1995 New York Knicks. These teams can be pitted against other classic teams, or even current teams in exhibition, or even imported into the Association mode.

The amount of work that went into making sure the classic players and teams look and play like they would have if this kind of gaming technology had been around when they played is incredible, and the only thing more amazing is that in the long run of your time with 2K11, the great feature of old-school teams will become an afterthought. NBA 2K11 includes so many modes and things to do that you'll be set long after the real-life champion is crowned. All these modes though, would be worthless without great basketball.

It's made by 2K Sports, did you really expect the gameplay to disappoint? While the NBA 2K series has been know for providing the smoothest and most realistic on-court action for over a decade now, 2K11 has upped the ante. While 2K10 was excellent, and miles ahead of the competition, 2K11 provides an overhaul that makes the gameplay feel completely different. From a long time 2K basketball sim player, admittedly when I popped the disc in I struggled for the first few games.

The AI has seen an improvement in intelligence. You can't throw passes about lazily like you may have gotten away with in the past. You have to put thought into each possession if you don't want your opponent's defense to take advantage of you, even on the lower difficulty settings. Also improved are the revamped Isomotion controls. After a little experimenting, you will get the feeling that you are in full control of your ballhandler's movements. While before you may have felt like your moves were at the fate of animations, now there is much less reliance on animations playing out, and you'll have a say in exactly what you want your players to do.

NBA, 2K11, Review

The gameplay of NBA 2K11 is something so dynamic that you have to experience it for yourself. Words can only go so far in explaining the various details that have gone into assuring the 2K11 is the most realistic game of basketball to date. Not only in gameplay and feel, but also with it's crisp, life-like visuals.

Not only are the graphics great, and improved this year, but presentation as a whole. You'll see players show up to the game, stepping off the team bus rocking their nicest attire, warming up in pre-game, and performing player specific rituals. The real highlight though? Dynamic commentary. Once again Kevin Harlan and Clark  Kellogg team-up to provide input on the action, along with some fun perks on what's going on around the league. Unfortunately, this is still a video game and since basketball fans are likely to be spending a good amount of time with this game, you'll inevitably get around to hearing everything these two have to say.

In game so deep on features, the one that remains the staple is of course Association. Take over your favorite team and manage all the moves, from free agency, trades, contracts, and playing the games themselves, this is as close as you'll get to living your dream as an NBA General Manager. This mode remains very similar to what you've become accustomed to, but it doesn't come without its share of small enhancements.

Computer trade logic has seen a beef up, with CPU teams making smart moves, similar to things you would see in real life. Also added to trading is the ability to search for players based on a customizable set of criteria, and even put players into a trade machine to see what teams would be willing to offer in exchange for the selected players. It's an extremely helpful feature, especially if you're in rebuilding mode.

Player progression seems hit or miss. As seasons go on you'll see many of the ratings increase and decline as you might expect they would as they age. On the other hand, there might be some really questionable progressions, such as a player already seeing a yearly decrease in stats after he hits his mid-20's. Then again, no one can predict exactly how the NBA is going to pan out in the future, and 2K11 does its best to try. Thankfully you can edit ratings to your desire in the middle of an Association.

Not a new inclusion to this mode, but still one we're highly appreciative of, is the ability to import a created draft class every year. Some of the computer generated classes yield strange results, so it's great to be able to download classes that contain real life NBA prospects who you'll probably be seeing in the future.

Last year, 2K10 introduced My Player, a mode people had been wishing to see finally made its arrival. However, its first year out of the gates was obviously a learning experience. It was fun creating your own player and watching him grow into an NBA starter, but the mode left a little to be desired. 2K11 builds on that, fixing many of the problems, and adding a lot in the way of extras.

The road to the NBA isn't quite as long this time around, with only a handful of games required at the draft camps before you'll be put into the draft and ready to try and make an NBA roster. You'll still start with a ridiculously low overall rating, but through drills and good play you'll have it up by the end of your first season.

One thing that really hindered the on-court experience was the stupidity of your teammates. While 2K has attempted to improve this, it remains an issue. While you'll be running set plays on offense now, you'll still have bone-headed teammates who chuck up contested 3's at will, even if you're standing wide open. If you have the patience to accept your teammates occasionally dumb moves, the on-court feel to this year's My Player is definitely improved. 

NBA, 2K11, Review

You'll be encouraged to make it through these moments, as the bare-bones simplicity of My Player is now gone. There's much to see outside of the box score this time around. When you finish a game, you'll be escorted to the press conference table, where you'll get to answer a question from the media. You'll see everything you would from a real reporter. If they think you're taking too many shots, they'll throw that in your face. Or, if they hear you've been asking the front office for a trade, after your next game you can bet they'll be bringing up those rumors.

You'll have four options for responses. Answer with professionalism, arrogance, loyalty, or indifference. It's pretty clear what kind of response each will lead to, and how you answer will change how the outside world sees your character. After each answer, you'll be shown 3 arrows. One for team trust, one for popularity, and one for fan support. Depending on your answer the arrow will either point up, down or sideways, indicating the change. These stats actually impact your game. The more your teammates trust you, the more inclined they'll feel to pass you the ball on the court. If your popularity is high, you'll start getting offers from the Jordan brand for billboards, and eventually, your own shoe deal. Fan support will change how the local fans react to you. If you let that stat drop, the fans will probably boo when you get the ball at your home games.

There's also a spin-off of this mode, Create a Legend, which lets you take control of Michael Jordan as a rookie and place him on any current team and recreate his legacy against today's NBA players. Both modes provide another great way to spend time in 2K11, but one gripe is that you can't simulate games from the schedule. Playing through multiple 82 game seasons is tough, so having to go into each and every game, waiting through the loading screen, just to hit simulate to end is a pain.

If there's one area the 2K basketball game has always missed on it's the online play. The options are there, with normal ranked matches, lobbies, team-up, and online leagues, but still too many games fail to establish a connection. When you do get connected, the game plays generally well, though there's still the occasional lagging that just shouldn't be there. Online play is fun, but we're still waiting for the day when the online play runs just as smoothly as offline is able to.

If you couldn't tell by now, NBA 2K11 isn't a great game. It's a masterpiece. With so many features that you'll likely never experience the full game, and on-court action as good as we've dreamed of,  2K Sports and Visual Concepts have delivered again. Few sports games are able to create such a true representation of their sport, and in that NBA 2K11 succeeds in a way that no game before it has been able to do. 2K11 not only provides a blueprint that will be chased by sports game developers for years and years to come, but it serves as one of the greatest accomplishments in general video gaming's recent history.

Logan Smithson, NoobFeed

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  • The rating is perfectly justified. If it wasn't for Soccer and Tennis simulation games, I would've spend a lot more hours in 2k11. It's everything a basketball fan could ever ask in a game. Since you haven't mentioned anything PC related, I must add something to your review and it's the control. The only thing that made me not play it much. Key settings aren't the usual sports simulation game and it take while to get used to it. In most games you use single button for one constant purpose but in basketball, buttons work in different ways based on whether you are attacking or defending. Makes it really confusing time to time.


    Posted Aug 16, 2011

  • @Sleven Do you own any sort of controller for PC games or do you just use the old mouse and keyboard?


    Posted Aug 18, 2011
  • avatar 313


    Dat ish cray. Can't wait for 2K12.


    Posted Sep 25, 2011

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General Information

NBA 2K11

97/100

Platform(s): Xbox 360, PS3, PC, WII
Publisher(s): 2K Sports
Developer(s): Visual Concepts
Genres: Sports
Themes: Basketball Sim
Release Date: 2010-10-05

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