Video Game Review: NBA2K11

By Jerel Mashall

It’s been a while since a basketball game, or any sports game for that matter, has earned the right to be called revolutionary. NBA 2k11 is back with a showing that comes insanely close to earning this distinction.

The number one selling and reviewed basketball game returns with refined gameplay dynamics, a couple of new game modes and the greatest player of all time, Michael Jordan. What more could a hoops addict want from a video game?

This year’s game features several different gameplay tweaks.

The revamped dribbling system in 2K11 is probably the most noticeable change from previous titles. The game accounts for momentum and speed as you have to get to the right angle if you want to beat your opponent off the dribble. Subtle foot movements play a huge role in whether you get to the rack for a fantastic finish or get redirected by stifling defense.

As a result, it feels much more rewarding and realistic when you break the defense down with cross overs, size-up dribbles, behind the back moves and stutter steps.

Another significant change that players will come across is the newly clogged passing lanes. Passes that resulted in dunks, layups and open shots in past versions of the game will now result in tipped passes and steals as the A.I. has received a huge boost on off-ball defense.

The game flows extremely smooth and players are almost never locked into one animation without having the option to change. This is most evident in the expanded variety provided by the shot stick. Different combinations of the left and right analog sticks and the trigger buttons allow for turn-around jumpers, leaners, floaters, hooks, euro-step layups and more.

The game offers a ton of different offensive weapons. It would require a ridiculous amount of time to master every crossover, post-move and shot type. This is what makes the gameplay in 2K11 truly unique. A player might find themselves in the same situation 10 times and have a completely different outcome each time.

NBA 2K has always offered a large amount of signature moves and this year they have taken that authenticity to new heights. 2K11 features more signature shots, dunks and layups than ever before.

Game Modes
Last year’s big addition, My Player Mode, is back in full force. My Player allows you to move from NBA prospect to NBA Superstar as you rack up skill points by playing with your created player.

Skill points are once again allocated for being a good teammate, accomplishing game specific tasks and reaching milestones.

Earning skill points can be difficult but some less lofty milestones have been included, such as get five rebounds or get five steals in one game, to help get through the early stages of your career.

New inclusions include interactive postgame press conferences and the ability to request a trade.
One of the biggest additions in this year’s title is of course, Michael Jordan. Jordan serves as more than just the cover athlete. In the Jordan Challenge mode you are tasked with reliving some of Jordan’s most iconic moments. Once players finish up all of the challenges they are rewarded with the Creating a Legend mode which allows you to place Michael Jordan as a rookie onto any current NBA team. Although players are given a modest skill-set to begin with, the skills are upgradeable similarly to My Player mode. Another plus is that all of the teams that were re-created can be user controlled in other game modes.

The Association is also refined in this year’s edition. Players have the opportunity to take the reigns as GM and coach while strategizing to turn an NBA team into a dynasty. The most notable upgrade here comes in the trade transactions department. The GM A.I. has taken a huge step up and rival teams will work hard to make trades that will fix team weaknesses.

The different game modes in 2K11 are enough to keep a gamer satisfied for hours at a time. This title easily has the highest replay value out of any of the past games in the franchise.

The 2K series has delivered realistic game presentation for years but this year they enlisted the help of a TNT producer. The new overlays and graphics will make you feel as if you are watching a game on a Thursday night.
The commentary has not changed much and it can become annoying when playing through long seasons because the same basic information about your team will be repeated every night. This is not as big of a problem in the My Player mode and the commentators will often point certain milestones in your career.

The commentary in the Jordan Challenge mode is simply amazing. The commentators constantly insert facts about Jordan, the current game and the opposing teams. It is like perusing a hoops history book. Even the most avid basketball fans will discover some obscure details that had previously forgot. This also gives newer fans a concise lesson on Jordan’s storied history.

Bottom Line
Although 2K11 fails to bring anything wildly innovative to the table, it executes on its strengths like never before while eliminating some of the past weaknesses. The gameplay is very smooth and feels free flowing. The game offers a bunch of options to keep fans coming back. The presentation puts the feel of a TNT game into the palm of your hands. Also, the game allows an unprecedented experience with the greatest player of all-time. NBA 2K11 is a must have for fans of the franchise and hoop heads alike.


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