“They’re playin’ baaaskeeetbaaall! We love that, bas, ket, baaall!”
That line gets stuck in my head a lot. It’s the first thing you hear when you boot up NBA 2K12. Every time I hear it, I get excited, because:
1. I love basketball
2. This game is the best basketball game I have ever played.
But it does get annoying when I only hear the same two lines in my head over and over when trying to write this review. Maybe I’m going crazy.
NBA 2K12 has a pretty good soundtrack. I normally don’t like most of the music that is played in this game, but I found myself enjoying it when doing practice or training. The overall sound effects are incredibly realistic, and there’s nothing quite as satisfying as the “swish” of a perfect three point shot. The commentary from the announcers is also fantastic, and, unlike some other sports games I’ve played, I chose to leave it on at pretty much all times.
The graphics are very pleasing, despite a few occasional oddities when the camera cuts to a single player after he makes a shot. But during play, it looks outstanding. I was doing some chores around the house while letting the computer play by itself (Bulls vs Celtics, if you must know), and the wife walked in. We don’t have cable (Netflix FTW) and she didn’t know I had bought the game. She looked at the TV, confused, and said “How are you watching this?” Yeah, it looks that good.
The gameplay might take a while to get accustomed to, because 2K12 gives you complete control over the ball. You manually do moves like dribbling behind the back, spinning, driving in certain directions, choosing which hand to do a layup from, everything. I highly recommend you go through Training Camp mode, and I recommend you do it more than once, because it’s going to take some practice to learn how to get past strong defense and memorize all of your different options for doing so.
Once you have the controls down, you’re going to have more fun than you can imagine. The gameplay is incredibly smooth and realistic, and I almost feel like I’m watching a real game when I’m playing, especially with the fantastic sound effects and overall presentation. Each game, save for modes like NBA Blacktop, is presented to you as if it’s actually a live game happening on TV. The commentators will talk about individual players, make jokes, and do nothing but add to the realism.
Various modes return, and most of them are improved over previous installments. Creating your own player has never been more awesome. As soon as you’ve made him, you get to dive right into a game that will decide his basketball fate. You play in a game controlling only him, and try to meet certain goals within the game, some of which can be very tough. Afterward, you get an interview with a few teams, and finally figure out where you’re getting drafted. It’s an incredibly satisfying experience, and still holds to the realism from the other modes.
Association is one of the most excellent modes. You set up a franchise and play through a whole season. The crowds will react realistically to your team’s performance over time, meaning that if you are rocking the game, more fans will show up for your next game. The presentation here is even better than the rest of the modes, with little additions like commercials for upcoming games. You can trade players with other teams, but the AI of course has to believe it’s a fair trade. You can also start a franchise and play through a whole season with a friend in Association Online.
You will have the ability to unlock teams from other eras, such as the ’93-’94 Chicago Bulls, and some teams from further back, like the 60′s. You will play through a game from that time, and if you win, you get that team. It is by far one of the best aspects of the game, because I love being able to play as the 90′s Bulls.
My favorite mode by far, though, is the NBA Blacktop. You choose five players for each team, and it can be anyone from any team in the NBA, and have a game on an outdoor court. There are less rules than in a regular game, so there won’t be as many whistle blows. It’s a lot of fun listening to the players chatter while they’re playing, and hearing the crowd outside the court react to the game. It has an incredibly realistic feel to it, and I play it more than any other mode.
I wouldn’t give this game up for anything. I’ll still be playing this when NBA 2K13 rolls around. Between the great graphics, overall realism, presentation and various modes of play (there’s just SO much basketball!), you’ll be stuck on your couch for hours perfecting your play strategies.
Do you feel like this is the best basketball video game ever? Have any suggestions for 2K13? Be sure to make some noise in the comments.