By title alone, NBA 2K11 is seems like it’s just going to be another notch in the long-lasting basketball series published by 2K Sports. However, the title is where that notion stops. I’m not one to give much into hype, but it’s hard to ignore the significance of Michael Jordan’s presence on the cover of and in NBA 2K11. Even if you don’t know who the man is, just being the cover athlete of a sports title years after retirement should say enough. Ushering Jordan into the world of NBA 2K11 are some of the best upgrades and changes the series has seen. I guess when you’ve got the best you have to give it your best, and the developers sure seem like they have done so.
When booting up the game, you are instantly thrown into the introduction of the 1991 NBA Finals. No menus or options, just straight into what sets the tone for the rest of your experience with NBA 2K11. The game shows off its focus on creating the feeling of greatness as you watch Jordan enter the arena. This, along with the super polished game intros, smart commentary and star-studded soundtrack, make NBA 2K11 easily one of the best sports games in terms of presentation.
The 1991 NBA Finals game isn’t the only historic game featured in NBA 2K11. The Jordan Challenge mode includes 10 of them. Each game requires you to meet certain requirements, such as making a certain amount of points, rebounds, and assists. Just a warning to those who believe this will be nothing more than glorified revisits to the past; these are real challenging games that are not easy feats to overcome. It is pretty unforgiving and can get downright frustrating. I would complain more, but Jordan did them in person; the least I can do is do it in the virtual world with my fingers.
The next thing I would like to mention is that NBA 2K11’s attention to detail is phenomenal. Players, both old school and new school, act almost identical to their real-life counterparts. When taking control of Jordan, his movements and mannerisms reflect the same images I remember seeing as a kid watching NBA on NBC. Jordan’s patented sticking out of the tongue? Yeah, it’s there. There are also subtle interactions with the crowd, referees and the rest of the environment on the court that also make this go in the world of 2K basketball feel the most authentic.
A huge improvement to NBA 2K11 from its previous iterations has to be the AI. They will adapt to your style of play and shut you down if you try to pull off the same tricks. I’m usually one to fine silly little loopholes to score easily in sports games, but with NBA 2K11, it was a no go. Every opportunity to make a basket feels earned and deserving. The control schemes have you feel like you have complete control of the ball, and it makes you feel like it’s completely your fault if you mess up. There’s no one to blame but yourself and your lack of skill.
As good as NBA 2K11 is, it still suffers from the usual problems. With so many different mixes and matches of what you can do on the court, there are going to be the inevitable “what the heck” moments that occur when bumping heads in the paint. Impossible layups and awkward moments do happen, but thankfully happen far less than most other basketball games. If only sports games would go through more beta testing by its communities to really point out and hammer down all the nails that stick out, especially those that occur online. It’s hard to take a competitive online game of NBA 2K11 seriously when lag is pretty prominent throughout. It truly breaks down any hope of having a good game. If you know anything about sports games, you know that timing is everything.
Aside from all the Jordan stuff and the amazing presentation, NBA 2K11 is as good as a basketball game gets. This game is the complete package, and should keep fans of 2K basketball games and fans of Michael Jordan very happy. Online could be better and the on-court stuff is not yet perfect, but that just leaves room for growth in next year’s version. Let’s all marvel at the beauty that is planned obsolescence.