NBA 2K12 Review

By Jonathan Deesing - Posted Oct 10, 2011

Basketball fanatics who have never played a sports game before may have to reconsider in order to get a fix this year. Luckily, NBA 2K12 is so deviously realistic some people may forget about the lockout altogether.

The Pros
  • Graphics and gameplay are second to none
  • My Player mode offers much more this time around
  • NBA's greatest mode is a sweet visit to a time when shorts were short
The Cons
  • No rookies means no Jimmer
  • Only a small taste of the NBA's greatest
  • No option for Mike Tyson facial tats

NBA 2K12 Review:

Making improvements on a yearly sports game can be a difficult, if not impossible feat. Oftentimes developers can only produce one revolutionary title every few years and then tweak it until it gets old. NBA 2K12 skirts the line between the two of these, but fortunately makes enough gorgeous changes that anyone who loved NBA 2K11 should pick it up.


Entering the Arena

The smooth and flawless gameplay in NBA 2K12 makes it blaringly clear why there is so little competition in the basketball video game arena. The joystick at times can feel like an extension of your player, and pushing it too long or too hard can lead to a foul. But don’t lean on your opponent hard enough and he’s probably going to slip underneath you and head for the basket. The movement is tight and exceptionally sharp.

Passing, stealing and shooting all look incredibly natural and reflective of what you might see in a real NBA game. Players react to just about any situation you can put them in with ease and grace (except Darko Milicic; that dude sucks). Gaining familiarity enough with certain players to shoot well with each of them takes time, but is surprisingly rewarding.

NBA 2k12

Even the menus are friendly and easy to navigate. While other sports games tend to utilize an obnoxious left-to-right list of options and game modes, 2K12 has a dashboard feel with an easy access menu with more complex options. You can go from giving your player perpetually sweeter kicks to donating hundreds of thousands of fake dollars to charity in seconds. Don’t judge me; I only donated money because I was granted an achievement. SHEESH.

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An RPG With Balls

Give me an action/adventure RPG over a sports game any day of the week. The constant feeling of accomplishment accompanying every action, every kill, every damn thing you do is a steady drip of barbiturates for me. Luckily for me NBA 2K12 is an RPG. In a sense.

“My Player” mode allows you to role-play an NBA athlete from his rookie showcase to his eventual immortalization in the hall of fame. You begin by creating a character that can be as unique as you desire. I went pretty vanilla with mine, you know; red Mohawk, red Chuck Taylors, tribal tattoos…the usual. From there your player plays (read: embarrasses himself) in a rookie showcase and then proceeds to the draft.

After being drafted, expect a few demoralizing games where you establish just how rusty you are on the court. However, the game is easy to gain a grasp of in a short amount of time. You may not be great at it, or even good, but it quickly becomes clear how to become good. Any fans of RPGs will be able to get their fix with My Player mode. Every game of your career features an A-F grading scale of your performance as a team player. This includes making good assists, passes and screens for your teammates. Did I say I needed a steady feeling of accomplishment to get me through the day? 2K found out my secret.

NBA 2k12

Starting off, your player will suck and simply being able to set a screen for a better teammate may be the only good thing you can do in any given game. But such is the appeal of an RPG. Eventually you can build your player into an all-star and start winning championships. I mean, once you trade out of Minnesota. Probably the best new addition to My Player mode is the option to skip the majority of games in favor of playing “key games” such as rivalries and significant matchups. Unlike 2K11, this allows less hardcore players to actually get through an entire career with a player.

Dynasty mode hasn’t seen any significant changes with the most serious changes instead being focused on the “NBA’s Greatest” mode. This year, you can battle it out as fifteen classic teams play in fifteen matchups sure to make older gamers nostalgic. The authenticity maintained in these games is delightful. Older games featuring classic players from Jerry West to Wilt Chamberlain don’t feature a three-point shot. Further, the presentation is grainier and more reminiscent of older sports games in which the announcers were the only noise during a game. It’s just a shame that you can’t play the game on the 1980’s version of a big screen. All 12 inches of it.

Although these matchups are frustratingly difficult, after beating them, I was left wondering “okay…now what?” I’m sure 2K has a number of games/players/teams in mind as DLC but 15 certainly just aren’t enough classic games for hungry NBA fanatics.

NBA 2k12

Lockout? Shmockout.

People who played NBA 2K11 claimed it was the best basketball sim to date. It featured drastically improved graphics, dynamic gameplay changes and a My Player mode to make most gamers wet themselves with glee. At the risk of pissing off any 2K11 fanatics; it’s time to buy a new video game. The My Player mode alone should draw anyone mildly interested in basketball with a desire for constant reassurance toward 2K12. NBA’s Greatest is a delightful, if short jaunt into the past with not only older players but older playing styles.

Even though the game lacks rookies due to the impending NBA lockout, the fact remains that it may be the only chance for basketball fanatics to see any semblance of professional basketball this year. And they couldn’t ask for a better temporary fix.