It just hasn’t been the same since ‘he’ left
Let’s be totally honest. Basketball just hasn’t been the same since the Chicago Bulls number 23 called it quits. I know there are some great players in the NBA today, but even the likes of Kobe Bryant and new Miami recruit LeBron James will always be compared to the great Michael Jordan. With that in mind, it is no wonder 2K Sports has decided to bring back ‘His Airness’ in video game form for their latest NBA game, NBA 2K11.
Time for the tip-off
The latest game in the series brings back a heap of the existing game modes from previous titles as well as bringing in some new modes to encourage existing fans to ‘upgrade’. There is the Association mode which has improved the drafting system. There is also the standard option of playing the whole season (the length of which can be adjusted), but also the option to simply head for the play-offs if you are short on time or think you have got what it takes to beat the best. You can also play pick-up street games with 1-on-1 to 5-on-5. The My Player mode has again been included, so gamers can build up their player to the point where he can ‘be like Mike’. This can be cumbersome to begin with as it definitely takes some time to get your player to a decent level. Sticking with it can be quite satisfying though. One mode that usually doesn’t get enough mention is the Practice Mode. With NBA 2K11, it wouldn’t hurt to give this a try before hitting the court, as the game can be tough, especially for newcomers.
AI players move about the court quite well, and certainly act as a team. The AI works well to get into a decent scoring position, whilst doing its utmost in defence to prevent you from doing the same. The higher ranked teams perform better than those below them, or at least that’s how it seemed as my LA Lakers team had no trouble with the Raptors or the Hornets, but struggled against Orlando and Miami. Admittedly, it could have just been because, despite enjoying myself, I was totally crap at the game, especially early on. Another thing that needs mention is the game’s subtleties. There are subtleties in free throw shooting, where each player has their own shooting style, which can make it harder to get into a groove. Their stats also seem to affect how well they each perform on court, further enhancing the realism factor.
A little bit of history repeating
The newest addition to the NBA 2K franchise is of course the Michael Jordan Challenge mode. Being able to perform some of Michael Jordan’s greatest feats (basketball feats of course...please don’t mention baseball) is a heap of fun. They are, as would be expected, tough to complete, as there are a number of variables required to complete each ‘mission’. Most require you to score a certain amount of points as MJ, but all of them have other criteria such as completing a number of assists, or rebounds, shooting at a required rate or even simply winning the match. It’s tough, but you’ve certainly got the right man to help you accomplish the goals. Unfortunately for me, it seemed as though you needed to overuse Michael Jordan at times in an effort to complete the challenges, sometimes to the detriment to the team as a whole. On more than one occasion a teammate would be in perfect position for an easy lay-up, but due to the requirements of the challenge I would simply have to make the herder shot as good ol’ Number 23.
Nothing but net
The game works with both keyboard controls or with a gamepad, although I would recommend the latter as the game is basically a port of the console versions. Personally, I had to go searching for my old gamepad, because I can’t remember the last game I used it for. But anyway, after finding it and getting it configured again, all was great. And the controls are remarkably smooth and feel so much more natural with the controller than the keyboard. The left thumbstick controls the player movement, the control buttons are used for passing, shooting, stealing (well, attempting to steal) and blocking. The right trigger can also be used if you want to turbo-charge your player for a short sprint. The right thumbstick is also used for advanced shooting. Aiming the controller in various directions in combination with other control buttons will result in certain shot types. It does take a little getting used to, and novices would be wise to ‘auto-shoot’, but if perfected, can be really rewarding. For the most part though, I stuck with the basic shooting controls.
Presentation, including visuals and audio, make it seem like you’re a part of a telecasted game. You can play as Michael Jordan.
Some graphical issues can dispel the illusion somewhat. Navigating the menus can take a little getting used to.