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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

NBA 2K12 Reviews -Michael Jordan talks 'NBA 2K12'

Michael Jordan talks 'NBA 2K12'

"NBA 2K12" is about the closest fans can get to a virtual time capsule. From Jerry West draining jumpers like only The Logo can, to Wilt Chamberlain posting up Dwight Howard in the paint and throwing one down in Superman's face, it's where legends (complete with afros and short shorts) take on the best ballers of today in games where amazing not only happens but is actually controlled by basketball fans looking to talk a little junk with every Michael Jordan jam.

"It's fun to see myself still relevant in the game, and more than that, it's educational to the kids who never saw me play," Jordan tells me over the phone as we talk "2K12" and his influence over the final product. "With what the 2K guys have done, they're able to utilize my skills in the game against today's players. I think it will be cool for consumers to interact that way.

"That's one of the things that I thought was important and why I wanted to get involved in the game. I wanted to show the relevance between yesterday's players to today."

And for fans, that means we get to see what it would look like for Mike to take flight against the likes of LeBron, then hit rewind and watch it again (and again if you're in Cleveland).

In fact, everything about His Airness is captured with such realism, such authenticity, the only thing missing is the ability to import his character into "MLB 2K11."
Maybe next year.

Jon Robinson: How much influence did you have over your character's look and skill set in the game?

Michael Jordan: I didn't want them to put me in there if it didn't look like myself, and I didn't want them to put stats that weren't my stats. The guys at 2K are very smart, so they know a lot of things about the game of basketball, and obviously, the things that I've done to the game and the way that I played. I wanted my character to be as close to the way I played as possible, so that it's not something that's false-promoted. I wanted something real.

Jon Robinson: They have everything from your dunks and fadeaway to your swagger on the court. What did you think the first time you saw it in motion? It's a long way from "One on One: Jordan vs. Bird."

Michael Jordan: [laughs] Yeah, it is, it's a long way from the first game I was in, but it just shows you the technology that's evolved over the years. The fact that they can come as close as they have to the way that I played the game, my tendencies, my tongue out, my pants being short, my running technique, my fadeaway ... all the things I've done that they've been able to illustrate in the game just shows how technology has evolved.

Jon Robinson: Does it make you laugh to see the rookie Jordan in the game with the short shorts and the hair compared to the older years with the bald head and the longer shorts?

Michael Jordan: Believe me, I get that from my kids all the time. [laughs] The short shorts and the hair and all that stuff, it's somewhat fun. I'm not embarrassed by it. It was me. That's how I was when I played the game.

Jon Robinson: The hook to "NBA 2K12" is the inclusion of 15 legends and their teams playing against some of the best competition of their day. Your Bulls are matched up against the '92-93 Hornets in the game. Why do you think that's a fun matchup for gamers?

Michael Jordan: If gamers don't know about these teams, they are hopefully going to get an education about the past. Teams that were good that they may not know of now. The Hornets had a real good basketball team and we had to go through them. They had a real good bench and some good players like Alonzo Mourning and Larry Johnson. It's not like I just played against Bird or Malone or Barkley or Ewing. We played against other teams too, and it's important to give these guys an identity, as well.

Jon Robinson: Are you disappointed that Charles Barkley isn't represented in the game as one of the 15 legends?

Michael Jordan: I am disappointed he's not in the game. I think people would love to see how much smaller he was compared to how he is now. [laughs] The impact he had on the league being only 6-4, 6-5, and the impact he had at the power forward position is going to be missed.

Jon Robinson: Are you glad Scottie Pippen made the list of 15? A lot of people still only see him as your sidekick. Do you think he deserves to be on a Top 15 list of influential players like this?

Michael Jordan: Yeah, I'm very glad. When you think about what he's done, he was a part of every team where I won. He was an important part of that and people tend to forget that. You would never have seen Michael Jordan win a championship without Scottie Pippen and Scottie Pippen never won a championship without Michael Jordan. So the two of us are a tandem and he definitely stands up as one of the elite players to ever play the game. He's in my top five. He's on my team. If I had to pick five players to build a team, he's my small forward.

Jon Robinson: In the game, just like real life, you have that knack to hit the big shot at the most critical moments. What is it about your personality that made you such a cold-blooded player at the end of games? What makes a person clutch?

Michael Jordan: I'm pretty good with a basketball and I always felt that my skill level was something that I really practiced on and I perfected to a point that I felt confident about it. It's a confidence I have about myself, and if you ask me today, I still have it. That's something I just don't get rid of. I worked hard to get it, I believe in it, and it always came with no regrets.

NBA 2K12 Review

Up until last week I was still playing NBA 2K11. No other sports game has lasted me as long, and I was contemplating skipping this year's version because, hey, 2K11 is still fun and I like to take breaks between my sports games. That would have been a colossally stupid move. NBA 2K12 takes everything I love about last year and makes it better. Then it takes nearly all the parts I didn't like and turns them awesome. Hey, other sports games, you just got schooled. Again.
NBA 2K12 has three different covers highlighting the athletes that define basketball (though most gamers will see the Michael Jordan cover, marking the second year in a row his Airness takes the spot). But it's about a lot more than MJ this year. Last year's Jordan Challenges were the highlight of the game, but 2K12's NBA's Greatest mode trumps it. Michael Jordan is back, and along with him come Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Hakeem Olajuwon, Scottie Pippen, and 10 other basketball greats. They're matched up in games against other basketball legends such as the '93 Hornets, Dikembe Mutombo and Shaq with the Orlando Magic. Every team you play as and against is unlockable, letting you pit the greatest players of the last 40-plus years against the stars of today. Want to see Dwight Howard go head to head against Shaq in his prime? Of course you do because that's awesome.
Each game gets the full presentational treatment. (You're going to hear a lot about presentation in this review, because NBA 2K12's is astounding.) The games are treated like television broadcasts from the era, so Bill Russel's mid-'60s Celtics game is in black and white. The announcers treat the games like playbacks, talking about your performance as if it already happened and sharing trivia about the players.
Last year, two of the biggest complaints were the cheap defensive AI and the alien looking players. NBA 2K12 improves on both counts, but it's not perfect. The defense never lets up and will take advantage on every play if you let them. They still occasionally become psychic (my favorite was Dallas Mavericks center Brendan Haywood executing a perfect backhanded block without ever turning around to see me coming in for the layup), but it's rarer. The fact is that you're given so much more control of your footwork and shots, that it's up to you to get around the defense, because the game won't do it for you anymore. Choosing which hand to shoot the layup from or which way to fake before a jump shot makes or breaks every point in the game, and NBA 2K12 give you full control. It takes a little while to get fully accustomed to, but the amount of control you have is incredible.
As for the players, many of them look better. Kobe Bryant got a noticeable improvement. There are still alien looking players on every team, and each time the game cuts to them it is a bit jarring. Everything else about the game looks so amazing, that it really stands out. People would watch me play and comment on how fantastic the game looks, and then boom, Jarret Jack comes on screen looking like he got stung by bees in his face or Steve Nash shows his hideous mug. (Granted, Nash is kind of ugly anyway, but still.)

For me, the improvements to My Player sold me on the game. Last year, My Player was the most popular mode in the game, which is surprising considering how slowly it started. For NBA 2K12, the developers streamlined the draft process. Instead of pickup games and a possible trip to the D-League, you hop into a single game, with full presentation, commentary, crowds, and flair. From there you go into interviews with three potential teams (so you can fine tune who exactly you end up with), and then it's straight to the draft.
After that, the mode feels very similar: you control your guy, meeting game objectives and trying to be a team player. But the developers made it easier to get into the game by making your player start out with higher stats and making the Teammate Grade system more forgiving. It's easier at first, but that's because this year you're trying to get into the Hall of Fame, which is no easy feat. You'll have to play your ass off to meet the requirements, and it takes a long time. My Player is one of the most robust single-player modes in a sports game, rivaling MLB The Show's "Road to the Show" mode. The gameplay is tighter, the presentation is broader, and it finally feels like your character is an actual NBA athlete.
Association, NBA 2K12's franchise mode, returns and is largely similar to last year's, but that's not a bad thing. Association does a wonderful job of putting you in control of the team. It's here that the presentation and commentary outshine other sports games. 2K12 treats every game like a televised matchup, with intros, animated roster lineups, and commercials for upcoming games. The crowds and stadiums are realistic and react to how well your team does. Seeing nobody show up to a Charlotte Bobcats game (a serious real life issue for the franchise) and then watching the seats fill as you take the Bobcats to their first ever playoff appearance highlights the level of detail. Playing the same team for dozens of games will cause the commentary to repeat a bit, but that's coupled with a multitude of commentary for every other team you play. There was an amazing bit where the commentators started joking about which famous politicians they roomed with in college, poking fun at Grant Hill's parents. I "WTFed" in the best way possible.
In Association, the trade AI is still smart, and won't be fooled easily, but they still offer up some odd deals that are objectively sound but realistically stupid. Sure, Chris Paul is having the best season of his career when I played him, but there is no way the Heat would offer Lebron James for him after their whole "this is a Dynasty" talk.
What I'm most excited about with Association is the new online mode. Players can set up a franchise and play with friends for an entire season. The demo I got and the few games I've played have been great, but it's hard to say how it will hold up when the servers get flooded. In a week or so, we'll come back with a full report on it.

Closing Comments
No sports game has ever made me this excited to play. Seriously it's all I've been able to think about for the last week. The realistic, challenging, gorgeously animated gameplay carries across a cornucopia of modes. Playing legends of the past, the stars of today, and my own personal NBA rookie are all different flavors of f#$%ing rad. Any one of these modes would be reason enough to purchase the game, but all of them together make for a game that any basketball fan has to pick up.

IGN Ratings for NBA 2K12 (PS3).
Rating Description
out of 10 Click here for ratings guide
10 Presentation
The only way this could be more like an actual NBA broadcast would be if it locked the players out and canceled itself.
8.5 Graphics
Fantastic animations, beautiful stadiums, realistic crowds, all hindered by the too regular appearance of a few hideous character faces.
10 Sound
Hands down, the best commentary of any sports game ever. At times it surpasses actual NBA commentary. Dope soundtrack, too.
9.0 Gameplay
Some pretty minor AI weirdness is the only spot on an otherwise gleaming game.
9.0 Lasting Appeal
Between My Player, Association, NBA's Greatest, Creating a Legend, and the online modes, you'll be playing NBA 2K12 for the next 365 days.
(out of 10)

NBA 2K12 Review: The Best Basketball Sim Ever
With the NBA heading for a long and ugly lockout, the public’s appetite for a basketball video game is tough to gauge. But if you skip NBA 2K12 this year because you’re upset about being unable to watch LeBron and Kobe in real life, you’d be doing yourself a disservice. Like a dream team on which all the right pieces fall into place, this year’s edition elevates its game to new heights.
The centerpiece of 2K12’s banner year is the revamped broadcast presentation. Steve Kerr joins previous commentators Kevin Harlan and Clark Kellogg to deliver the most convincing booth commentary in video game history. This trio breaks down team matchups, discusses roster moves, talks about player streaks, and even has several anecdotes on hand about the players and coaches. Most impressively, the audio programming is smart enough to interrupt a discussion when a noteworthy play unfolds on the court and then return to the topic at hand. Coupled with the TNT-quality stat wipes and camera angles, this is the best sports presentation I’ve ever seen.
The moment-to-moment basketball play is equally polished. Visual Concepts didn’t bring any game-changing additions, but instead tightened the already strong gameplay to make the controls more responsive. Player collisions look more natural, it’s easier to string together a sequence of impressive dribbling and shooting moves, the post game feels more organic, and the deep player-centric playcalling system ensures that teams attack the basket like they would in real life. The only issues I have with the gameplay are the boundary awareness (which is a slave to the animation system), the pick and roll system (which I found tougher to execute), and that opposing teams tend to make an inordinately high percentage of their shots. You may need to tweak the sliders to get more realistic results.
The best-in-class Association mode has no problems making its shots, either. With an informative scouting system, convincing player management that has you juggling personalities as well as talent, and a robust free agency system, you won’t find a better franchise mode in sports games. The trade logic could use reworking (so many teams tried to acquire my star players that I wish there was a way to deem them untouchable), and AI-controlled teams tend to carry imbalanced rosters filled with too many guards, but these are niggling complaints about an otherwise stellar mode. Best of all? You can play this fully featured mode online with friends, too. All of the major pieces of the offline Association make the transition, but the progression is automated to keep the league moving forward. This may peeve hardcore fans who want full control.
As good as Association is, I spent more time with the drastically improved My Player mode. Last year’s version turned me off because you started with less talent than a junior varsity bench warmer, but for 2K12 Visual Concepts ditched the Development League purgatory to start you in the pros, bumped your starting rating into the 60s, and fine-tuned the performance grader to make it less punishing. With pre-draft interviews, player endorsements, post-game press conferences, and contract negotiations, My Player is just as adept off the court as it is when you’re raining down threes. The player progression moves slightly slower, but if you’re performing well you can crack the starting lineup sooner than later. I just wish the player abilities and signature animations cost less XP so you could tailor your star to your play style earlier in his career.
If you’re less concerned with the modern-day action, head for the NBA’s Greatest mode, which replaces last year’s popular Jordan Challenge. Visual Concepts went to great lengths to honor the careers of 15 of the league’s best players, creating era-specific presentation packages and asking the commentators to wax nostalgic about the stars of NBA’s past. Not only did I have a great time controlling the likes of Magic Johnson, Dr. J, and Bill Russell, I also learned a lot of interesting facts about players I never had the chance to watch in person. The only misstep 2K made is in locking you from using these great teams online without ponying up some extra cash.
In fact, Visual Concepts’ entire approach to online (outside of the impressive Association mode) clanks off the rim. You can play one-off matches, participate in Virgin-sponsored tournaments, or team up with five other players for a scrimmage, but not including a robust team competition infrastructure like NHL 12’s EASHL is a lost opportunity for a game where individual skill matters.
Online shortcomings and the lack of including last year’s rookie class on the rosters until the lockout lifts aside (thanks for that dumb rule, NBA), you won’t find a better franchise mode, single-player mode, historical mode, or presentation package anywhere else. NBA 2K12 isn’t just the best basketball game; it’s the most complete sports sim I’ve ever played. This is the new benchmark.

GI Rating

Mitigate the NBA lockout by collecting over 30 of the most memorable teams in league history
The best broadcast-style presentation and player models in sports games
The best play-by-play and color commentary ever recorded in sports games
The subtle tweaks to the control scheme increase the responsiveness, and 2K included a new training mode so everyone can optimize their abilities
Whether you’re an NBA die-hard or just a casual fan, this is the best sports game on the market

NBA 2K12 review
Magic Johnson is standing at center court, hands extended in disbelief. This can’t be happening, he seems to think. Despite - or perhaps because of – his superhuman efforts, the 1991 Lakers have just lost for the fourth time in a row to their counterparts from Portland. As he trudges off the court, he looks around, almost as if this is all just a bad dream.
Naturally, it is. In real life, the Lakers dispatched the Blazers in six games in the ’91 Western Conference Finals. This evening, though, we have tried more than a few times to replicate that defeat in NBA 2K12’s “NBA’s Greatest” mode with no success. It’s our fault that Magic is despondent, because we haven’t been doing all the little things that win games. Instead of calmly calling plays, finding the open man, defending the perimeter, and calling timeouts when Portland went on a run, we simply forced the ball to Magic and made everything go through him. That’s translated into spectacular statistics for the Hall of Famer. Unfortunately, it’s been nothing but losses too.
There in lies some of the genius of NBA 2K12. While last year’s Jordan challenge was spectacular, engaging, and utterly unlike anything we’ve seen before, it also made us play one-against-five basketball. Yes, you had to win the games, but everything was centered on getting Jordan his numbers. This season, the new historic mode is all based around team play; sure, there are iconic representations of the best players on all 15 of the classic teams, but whether Dr. J, Wilt, or Bird gets 20 points or just a bucket, a win unlocks the squad for play anytime. It’s a great way to emphasize one of the things that make 2K12 so special – its perpetually stupendous gameplay.
2K’s on-court play has been superb for a few years, but has now ascended into the stratosphere. In order to win, even on the default settings, you simply have to play smart basketball. Doing so isn’t easy, either. Not only do you really need to understand your team’s strengths and weaknesses – who you can go to for a clutch outside jumper, who can defend a hot perimeter shooter – but you also have to consistently call for picks, dish to a cutter, and kick out to the open man. Every possession is a chess match on both sides of the court, and getting reckless or lazy is a sure way to an 8-0 run in the wrong direction.
The setup is only half the battle. Execution is key, and there are more options for the ballhandlers and defenders than we can ever comprehend at our disposal. Whether you’re shooting fadeaways, spinning reverse layups, or dribble pull-ups, the timing of your shot is hyper-critical; missing open jumpers or layups is common as you learn the individual tendencies and release points of players. Free throws are even more varied; we were amazed at how different it is to shoot at the line with Bird, Chamberlain, or Malone. Once our timing got down with one, we had to learn someone else. Quickly.
If all of this sounds daunting, that’s because it is. In reality, though, NBA 2K12 is meant to be a marathon, not a sprint. Taking the time to learn the nuances of team play, the myriad offensive and defensive controls, and individual attributes of some of the league’s great players past and present is a beautiful process, even if it is a bit painful at the beginning. Yes, we’re concerned that too many people will get frustrated at the steep learning curve (or turn the difficulty down to the easiest level and just abuse the AI), but once we mastered a few moves and hit a game-winning buzzer beater, it was the most satisfying moment we’d had in a sports game in years. Simply because we had earned it.
If it’s possible to have a “good” year for 2K to be released when the real NBA is in the midst of a lockout, this is the one. Between the aforementioned 15-team NBA’s Greatest challenge, a nicely updated My Player mode, and the addition of Online Associations (among other items), NBA 2K12 is stocked with plenty of seriously great hoops. While we can only hope that a settlement will allow all the new rookies and updated rosters to be patched in, we can go a few months as-is without many complaints.
Presentation-wise, 2K12 is a stunner; “slick” is a vast understatement. Whether we were playing a modern-day matchup of the hapless Nets against the new-look Wizards, or stepping back in time to the early ‘70s, every game offers dozens of “that’s so cool” moments. Current-era games are bright and crisp, while old-school games feature camera filters and graphics that make it obvious you’re playing in a different era. The announcers treat the historic matchups as if they’re watching it today, referencing the entire careers of players and ultimate successes and failures of the teams on display. It’s a great touch that adds to the experience.
The My Player mode held a few happy surprises too. It’s been streamlined this year, especially at the start. Once our player was created, we had a single shot to bump up our attributes and draft stock in a one-game exhibition against other rookies at Madison Square Garden. Afterward, we were interviewed by several GMs and had the chance to respond in different ways. We learned the hard way that the modern sports business can be cruel. Days after the Houston GM told our fledgling Power Forward that he’s already solid at that spot, but still may take us over anyone else because we would be the perfect backup, he drafted a different player at the same position. Crushing – until we got drafted by the Sixers and led them to an overwhelming victory over the Rockets later that season. Revenge is a dish best served cold (and on the court).
There’s so much more to NBA 2K12 than we can get to here, plus we haven’t been able to check out Online Association or Team Up yet. Suffice to say, there are a few quirks that mean it’s not “perfect”, including some painfully long load times, repetitive commentary when you get further into My Player or have to repeat historic matchups (which, ahem, we had to do a few times), or questionable decisions around DLC and the removal of the Crew mode. Even so, the combination of sublime gameplay, unprecedented level of compelling historic team matchups, and an excellent update to My Player puts NBA 2K12 at a level no hoops game has ever been. The absolute mountaintop.

Now if only we can beat Clyde Drexler and those pesky Trailblazers.

You'll love
Beautiful presentation
Incredibly polished controls
Historic teams are amazing

You'll hate
Steep learning curve
Long load times
No Charles Barkley!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love just being able to come to this site and get all of the reviews on one page insted of going to all kinds of diff. web pages!