It’s hard to talk about NBA 2K12 without mentioning its stunning visuals, so it’s probably best for everyone if we start there!
The visuals in NBA 2K12 are just out of this world, in fact, no other sports game comes close. As if NBA 2K11 wasn’t good enough, the development team have ramped things up to another level. Not only does the on-court action look more realistic (improved likenesses include Dirk Nowitzki), menus are slicker and even the TV style presentation has been improved. For instance, before a big play-off match, the team line-ups aren’t just shown to you in the form of a simple list. Instead, actual models of the players are displayed, along with their statistics, as they stand on the spot moving and passing the ball to their team-mates. Whilst this might be a minute detail in the grand scheme of things, it just shows that 2K Sports are not resting on their laurels when it comes to the visuals and presentation in NBA 2K12.
The improvements extend to the on-court action too. They might not be immediately noticeable, but they are most certainly there. Whilst the face button based control scheme will still be included in the game, NBA 2K12 will place a much bigger emphasis on the right stick method. This means that key gameplay elements such as passing and shooting will offer greater freedom and precision if you choose to use the right stick control scheme. Much like NBA 2K11, the learning curve might be a little steep for some, but it’s well worth sticking with (no pun intended) if you want a complete, satisfying gameplay experience. In a bid to add more personality to the game, signature styles have also been improved when compared to NBA 2K11. This means you can expect to see play styles of stars such as Dwayne Wade and Kobe Bryant replicated to a startlingly realistic degree. Whilist other sports game try to reproduce this through attributes like speed and strength, signature styles in NBA 2K12 cover player indviduality and movement as well. For instance, Dwayne Wade is well known for his one-step move, and whilst certain other players might be able perform it too, they won’t pull it off in the same way Mr Wade does. This is what NBA 2K12 understands so brilliantly and, quite frankly, it’s something no other sports title on the market can match up to.
However, as great as the visuals and gameplay might be, the star of the NBA 2K12 show could end up being the “Greatest mode”. Building on the fantastic “Jordan Challenge” mode that was introduced in NBA 2K11, the addition of the Greatest mode shows that 2K Sports are (once again) developing a game with basketball fans in mind. Whilst the full mode will feature 15 classic players, we were shown two of them in action, Bill Russell and Magic Johnson. The mode is everything you would expect it to be, with attention to detail paid to literally everything and anything you could think of. For instance, as Bill Russell was a player in the 1960’s, the in-game presentation reflects that with simple black and white TV coverage. In addition to that, all the players are kitted out with retro shorts and the court has no 3 point line, just like the good old days. On the other hand, if you decide to play with Magic Johnson, you’ll be greeted by 1990’s style presentation with old school TV graphics to match the era. Presentation aside, you expect matches in the Greatest mode to be backed up by improved gameplay features such as the previously mentioned signature styles.
How do you top a title widely regarded as one the greatest sports games ever made? That is the question that the 2K Sports team needed to answer when they began development on the successor to NBA 2K11. A daunting task to say the least, but going by what we saw of NBA 2K12 at Gamescom, it seems like they are up to that task and then some.
NBA 2K12 is set to be released on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, PC and PSP on October 4th in North America. A European release is expected on October 7th.