Basketball. It’s a game that for some reason has never really inspired us Brits. I don’t really know anyone who understands the intricacies of the game other than the idea is to get that ball in the hoop thing…
Same thing applies to basketball computer games – I have VERY fond memories of shoving the “International Baskeball” cartridge into the back of my Commodore 64 back in the day and having hours of fun with the simplest rendition of the sport ever created. NBA 2k12 is perhaps the furthest possible opposite end of the “simple” spectrum you could possibly get. Not that that is a bad thing, but in order to get the fullest possible experience from this game you will need to commit a bit of time and effort to it, which I guess you could say about any sports game really.
Let’s start at the very beginning. On loading the game for the first time you are greeted with a cracking “Lets Play Baaaassskeeeetbaaaaaaal” tune which sets the scene nicely, to be then spoiled by being forced to create a “2K” account to access the online elements to the game (such as roster updates, multiplayer and the like). Now, whilst I’ve got no real issue with doing this, the whole process really feels like a data gathering exercise more than a simple “registration” process, and I fully expect to be spammed to death in the future. There are other titles that handle this “registration” process much more seamlessly and simply piggy back your XBL/PSN account almost seamlessly to provide the same benefits. I didn’t time it, but I reckon it must’ve been at least 5-10 minutes from me putting the disk in to me actually getting to the menu (let alone playing a game). Sure, it’s a one off process and doesn’t have to be repeated but it has made a lasting impression on me, but there again I do get quite irritable about the simplest of things sometimes!
Once through that initial process the game opens up with several options for you to “get your ball on” so to speak. Not sure if that’s a real term or not – but for a millisecond it made me sound cool, so I’ll stick with it. The various game modes are your usual sporting game fare, from playing a quick match to creating your own player and rising from the “Rookie Showcase” through to being the star player in a top flight team with all the lovely PR gubbins in between. There’s the usual multiplayer stuff in there and also a quite nice “Greatest Mode” where you can pit true basketball legends against other legends or current day teams to see how they match up. You can also choose to “take control” of a current player and play the remainder of his career out and see where it leads. There really is a LOT to do here and there could quite easily be months and months of gameplay on offer. Of course this means nothing if the game doesn’t play well.
Thankfully, there are no concerns in this department. The presentation and polish is top notch, the players move with a lovely fluidity and the matches are played at a typical thousand miles an hour basketball pace. It’s quite easy to get lost / bewildered with games and what’s happening and how to control your player effectively. In fact, the first thing I did after getting through the registration process was go to “quick match” only to be utterly smashed to pieces by the AI. The shooting controls and nuances are numerous and therefore the first thing anyone should do on approaching this game is go to the training camp and let the various pros take you through all the different shot types and manoeuvres to be made on the court.. Be warned however there is a LOT to take in here. I’m talking maybe 5-10 different moves to master PER element (such as shooting, slam dunks, defence etc.) and if you were to sit and just blitz the training mode you should probably set aside at least an hour, maybe more as some of the precise movements required to recreate very specific moves are quite difficult to pull off consistently. I must admit though, after completing the training camp I did feel a lot better prepared for the various other modes. Although there was no way I would remember all the various shots/dunks you could perform, sticking with 2/3 would probably be enough to see you right initially building up to adding a couple more moves in there for various situations.
I have to say I’m pleasantly surprised by NBA 2k12, whilst it does have a very scary initial learning curve the game itself is really great fun to play, presented extremely well and a really great all round experience. It’s a highly polished product and its quite clear that a lot of attention has been paid to the game by real basketball lovers to really capture the feel of the sport.
Now, excuse me whilst I go play some more Bball, shoot some hoops with ma homies, dunk some hoops and…. <DOOR SLAMMED>
Reviewed on Xbox 360