Yes, the “NBA 2K” franchise is the top rated basketball simulation for 11 years running.
And yes, this year’s “NBA 2K12” will let you end the debate about what historical team is the greatest by offering 15 classic teams and players to battle on the court.
But what really makes this a deeper game are the enhancements to the My Player mode, which allows you to create your own basketball player and guide his career (hopefully) to the NBA Hall of Fame.
Start off by creating the physical attributes (height, weight, age, etc.) and the game assigns your abilities based off what type of player you want to be (shooter, post player, etc.). In theory, you could create a 7-foot tall point guard with zero post abilities, but I’m guessing the high dribble would make you susceptible to steals.
After finalizing your player, you immediately play in a rookie showcase game. This game shows off “NBA 2K12” improvements on player movements, facial features and unique moves from player to player. It is also where how you do will help determine where you are selected in the NBA Draft.
While you are always referenced by a nickname, the announcers do a good job of mixing your player’s performance in their chatter. If you get on a hot scoring streak, they’ll remark how unexpected this is out of you and how many more teams will be taking a look at selecting you.
There are three expectations per game that you try to match (no turnovers, hold match-up opponent to 5 points, etc.) as well as improve your teammate grade by making good passes, playing transition defense and other skills that lead to victory. Meeting these goals help increase your skill point totals, which translate into improved attributes.
In all the My Player games, action can be simulated if your player is on the bench. Unless you want to watch the action while sitting on the sidelines.
I created a 6’ 6” shooting guard from Marshall University and picked up 18 points and a B- on my teammate grade in the rookie game. Now, it was time to be interviewed by general managers from three teams.
After the rookie game, you get to answer two questions from teams that will be interested in drafting you. They ask questions about your desire to play, your dedication to training or how willing you are to work on an up and coming team. How you answer those questions is taken into consideration prior to the draft.
The Charlotte Bobcats (#9 pick), Golden State Warriors (#11) and Utah Jazz (#12) were interested in my shooting guard. I answered the questions in a way that I hoped would get me selected by each team, but there was an answer choice, “I do not want to play for your team,” that would have automatically dropped me off that team’s list.
The draft starts off with NBA Commissioner David Stern (yes, it was really his voice) announcing the first pick and continuing on until your player gets selected. If you don’t get picked until late in the first round, this can be a rather drawn out process since there is no way to skip to your selection.
Developers wanted to enhance the drama and suspense of being selected. They also said the highest any created player can be selected is number 3 (Utah Jazz) so don’t set your sights on being the top pick.
After walking to the podium and signing your rookie contract, your team’s public relations department contacts you and shows you a new billboard, touting you as the future of the franchise. Having been selected by the Bobcats, it was pretty cool to see my player on some outdoor advertising.
Now it is time to earn that contract.
Players’ skills can be improved through buying skill points with your contract money or by doing individual and team drills. The 8 of the 9 drills are new to the franchise and work on offensive and defensive skills. Do well enough at the fast break skill and additional points are yours to spend.
Skill points are also earned by how well you play in your games, meeting the goals and getting a good teammate score. Your first game as well as other key games is worth double points so keep turnovers low and keep your teammates involved.
My shooting guard decided to take advantage of the new arsenal of moves in “NBA2K12” to put up 33 points in 16 minutes in his first game. Oh, you didn’t think you were going to be in the starting lineup, did you?
After every game, there is a press conference where you are asked about the game action. Your answer impacts what your teammates think of you, your league-wide reputation and how you are perceived by the hometown fans. The answers were tough to interpret and I came off as a jerk sometimes when I was trying to praise my teammates.
While the franchise touts its improved facial features and player movements, my player still looked awkward when he was speaking. His bottom lip didn’t seem to move and it appeared frightening when he addressed the press.
As your season progresses, more playing time can come your way and more endorsements will start coming your way depending on your reputation (those press conference answers are important). Money can be used to buy skill points, increase your reputation through team bonding events and even attend camps to enhance more than one attribute.
Later in your career, you can request trades, negotiate contracts and continue to build a player that will grace the NBA Hall of Fame. How long that takes depends on how fast your become one of the best players in the league.
“NBA2K12” offers many different modes of play, but the My Player mode has depth and versatility to challenge even the best gamer to achieve basketball immortality. It takes the new look of the franchise, the enhanced moves, and the improved shot creation, and personalizes it in a way that will have players cheering themselves on to greatness.
“NBA2K12” will be available October 4 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PlayStation 2, PSP and PC. It is rated E for Everyone. This review was done playing the game on the PlayStation3.