Game Review: NBA 2K11 (PS3)

October 21, 2010 in Basketball, Game Reviews, NBA

[Note: Almost two weeks after its release, I am finally reviewing NBA 2K11.  I wanted to make sure I played enough of the game to do the review justice.]

There is no competition this year.  Literally.  With NBA Elite 2011 back to the drawing board until further notice, NBA 2K11 has been automatically elevated to the title of the must-have basketball sim of the year.  Not to say that Elite would have been a challenge had it been released.  Anyone who has played the demo knows that.

In a nutshell, NBA 2K11 is the best basketball sim ever released.  It’s not perfect and there is still plenty of room for improvement, but 2K has kept the bar so high over the years that it doesn’t take much improvement to make a new game the ‘best ever’.

This year, the major improvements have been:

  • improved gameplay, in particular better off-the-ball movements, set plays and more fluid ISO-motion plays;
  • improved presentation, with slicker half-time reports, Player of the Game videos and highlights and easier to control menus;
  • upgraded My Player experience, to include the Draft Combine for free, trade requests, endorsements and post-game interviews; and of course
  • the Jordan Mode, which allows gamers to relive 10 of Jordan’s best moments and then the ability to play as him in My Player Mode.

Okay, time for me to review the game elements one by one and give it an overall rating.

(click on ‘more…’ to find out!)

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Thoughts on the delay of NBA Elite and how they can fix it

October 1, 2010 in Basketball, Game Reviews, NBA

So far, NBA Elite has looked horrible

For the first time since the NBA 2K franchise burst onto the scene, the NBA season will begin this year with only one new basketball video game on the market.  In a stunning announcement on EA Sports President Peter Moore’s Blog, it was revealed that the release of NBA Elite 2011 (formerly the ‘Live’ franchise) will be pushed back indefinitely into next year (it was originally set for release on October 5th).

This is what Moore had to say:

This year, we set extremely ambitious goals for our new franchise, NBA ELITE.  We are creating a game that will introduce several breakthrough features that have been missing from the basketball genre.   Unfortunately, NBA ELITE 11 is not yet ready and we have made a decision to delay next month’s launch.  We are going to keep working until we’re certain we can deliver a breakthrough basketball experience.

The decision to delay NBA ELITE was hard because the game has great promise.  But ultimately we feel this is the right thing to do.  We’ve been making steady progress on basketball for the past few years and it’s going to take extra time to make the game.

Why make this decision now?  As with all of our titles, we continue to evaluate and improve the code right up until launch.  Feedback from consumers is a very important part of the process.  NBA ELITE had the benefit of play-testing, a demo and a lot of our own research.  All that feedback revealed some concerns about gameplay polish, so we’ve listened to your feedback, and made a judgment that the game would benefit from more time in development.

In other words, EA knew the game as it stood absolutely sucked (as demonstrated by the demo), and that if they released it to compete with 2K, they would be laughed out of the building.  I was pretty harsh in my review of the demo (available here), which I believe was justified because there was no excuse to releasing a game that looked and played like NBA Elite — especially not after NBA Live 2010, which was a very competitive title.

The good news is that NBA Jam will now be released on the PS3 and XBox360 as a standalone game (previously it was packaged together with Elite) by Christmas.  As compensation for loyal Live fans, EA will offer free roster and player DNA updates for the entire upcoming NBA season.

(click on ‘more…’ to read thoughts on the delay and suggestions on how they can fix the game — with videos!)

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NBA 2K11 provides a glimpse of the new Miami Heat

September 30, 2010 in Basketball, Game Reviews, Indiana Pacers, NBA

I’ve been following all the NBA 2K11 videos on YouTube in advance of the release on October 5th (October 8th in Australia).

The best of the lot has been from MrOperationSports, one of the few sites that seem to genuinely hold a copy of the real game.  But their latest video, which gives us a glimpse of the new look Miami Heat, is too much for me.  It’s entitled ‘The Conseco Massacre’, and depicts Dwyane Wade and Lebron James having their way with the new look Pacers.  Dunks, threes, spin moves, alley oops, big blocks — the video has it all.  It even has Lebron James trash-talking Danny Granger (probably about his lack of minutes for Team USA), while Brandon Rush stands in the background looking completely stoned.  And you thought basketball games were not realistic!

Here is the vid.

As a Pacers fan, that video was utterly brutal, but I’m not going to pretend there’s no chance of it happening in real life.  But why the Pacers?  Why, oh why?

Anyway, 2K11 is looking really good.  I’m not even a Michael Jordan guy, but this new trailer has my blood pumping.

Can’t wait.  And you can forget about NBA Elite 2011.  I’d be surprised if anyone prefers that game after what we’ve seen from the demo.

Thoughts on the NBA Elite 2011 Demo

September 24, 2010 in Basketball, Game Reviews, NBA

[If you want to read about first impressions of the 2K11 demo, click here, and if you want to read pre-demo thoughts on both games, click here]

I am speechless.  I am without speech.

A couple of days after the release of the NBA 2K11 demo, EA Sports followed with the demo of their game, NBA Elite 2011 (formerly Live).  I just downloaded it for free (on the PS3) and gave it a decent try…and all I can say is that I am astounded.

Last year’s NBA Live 2010 was pretty good, probably because Mike Wang, the guy who many credited for 2K’s success, was poached by EA to fix things up (he went back to 2K after Live 2010).  In my opinion Live 2010 was a relatively small step behind NBA 2K10, but there are others who have it the other way around.  The graphics were good, the gameplay was vastly improved, and for those who like their basketball sims a little more arcady (ie lots of flashy dunks and layups), Live was the better video game.

But this year, EA took a giant risk by going with David Littman, the guy behind the success of EA’s hockey series.  With him, Littman brought along a bunch of what he perceived as new things such as ‘total control, ‘real AI’ and ‘real physics’, in an effort to totally transform the game by rebuilding it from the ground up.

Did these things translate Elite into a good basketball sim?  Well…I can’t be definitive because I’ve only tried the demo.  But if the demo is anything to go by, then the gamble has certainly not paid off, because the result appears to be bordering on disaster.  In just about every facet of the game, Elite has taken a step back from Live 2010.

[To read on and see the videos click on ‘more…’]

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Thoughts on the NBA 2K11 Demo

September 22, 2010 in Basketball, Game Reviews, NBA

Source: Sneakernews.com

[To read about my thoughts on the NBA Elite 2011 demo, click here]

Yesterday I downloaded the eagerly anticipated NBA 2K11 demo on the PS3.  It’s very very basic — a 4 minute first quarter game between last season’s finalists, the LA Lakers and Boston Celtics, and you can only use the Lakers (I hate both teams so it didn’t really matter).  The sound has also obviously been stripped down — there is no commentary and the music appears to be not much more than bare bones.  Nonetheless, in terms of graphics, presentation and gameplay, it provided a solid insight into just how good NBA 2K11 is going to be this year.

Here are my thoughts.

(To continue click on ‘more…’)

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