NBA Elite 11 Preview

Last week, while the Los Angeles Lakers were next door at Staples Center adding another chapter to their illustrious dynasty, the longest-running NBA video game franchise was in the early stages of adding a new chapter of its own. At E3, NBA Elite 11 was introduced in a private booth, and we were there for a hands-on experience. 

I got to test out the all-new control scheme of NBA Elite 11 in a one-on-one practice session with LeBron James and cover athlete Kevin Durant. Naturally, the first thing I attempted do was pick up the rock and get a feel dribbling the ball. With the left stick controlling your feet and player movement, the right stick is your main weapon for breaking down the defense with your handles. Driving to the hoop, the left trigger acts as a modifier to pull off Wade-type step backs or euro steps. However, since the Elite team is trying to reward the skilled players this year, there is quite a learning curve involved in the execution of these moves. A bad stick maneuver will not only cause you to lose your dribble, but you might also launch into an unwanted shot since shooting is mapped to the same stick.

Shooting the ball also takes some time to get used to, and it requires real attention even after you are comfortable with the mechanics. I feel like having to focus on each shot could be a great thing because it allows gamers to appreciate real basketball factors like the hot hand or good 'ol pressure. In addition to the shooting mechanic, under the hood, the range of each player's jumper is directly tied to attributes. Dunking the ball is done with the left trigger while pushing up on the right stick. You can adjust these dunks in mid-air if the big man is coming your way, or you just want to be fancy for no reason like Vince Carter.

Defense in NBA Elite 11 also has a few game changers. Players now have the ability to slide their feet manually while playing defense. The real-time physics engine plus the extinction of two-player canned animations leaves you in total control of how you play defense –- whether you shade the ball handler to one side or you cut him off on the drive, the choice is yours to make. Effective close outs on the shooter are also now a possibility if you slide your feet properly. Post defense is all about positioning as well. Win the battle for position, and you win the post game. If that fails, you can try reaching around for a steal -- done by pushing down on the right stick while up attempts a block. 

Although I was not totally satisfied after my time with Elite, I was definitely intrigued by what the game was trying to accomplish. Many have compared the controls overhaul to the NHL series, and although that is true in terms of the "right stick is your hand" concept, I thought the execution of the dribbling moves actually felt more like the FIFA series. The difference is, in the game of soccer, moves like the "flip flap" are not only difficult to pull off in a competitive game, but they are also not essential to victory. In basketball, however, a good crossover or spin move oftentimes leads to getting points on the board. In other words, making the gameplay both skill-driven and fairly accessible will be the main task for EA’s basketball franchise this season.

Will they be able to achieve such an Elite status? As a basketball gamer desperately looking for a new experience, I really hope so.

View all the NBA Elite 11 control screenshots here.

NBA Elite 11 Videos
Member Comments
# 1 kgbrolic @ 06/23/10 08:12 AM
Weak sauce.
# 2 str8artist @ 06/23/10 08:15 AM
Good honest read.. Man, I hope they are not as hard as fifa to pull off because if so their will be a lot of mad people on this site.
# 3 rudyjuly2 @ 06/23/10 08:20 AM
Nice preview on the new control scheme.
# 4 Goffs @ 06/23/10 08:49 AM
# 5 Pared @ 06/23/10 08:55 AM
Originally Posted by mrnoobie
No, a Hadouken is a quarter circle. That, sir, is a half circle.
# 6 DubTrey1 @ 06/23/10 09:40 AM
Spinning Bird Kick FTW..... No seriously, I am also interested to see how this one turns out. I like they are trying to innovate the series and it looks like they may be onto something here.
# 7 BroMontana82 @ 06/23/10 10:52 AM
why is lebron's chin above the rim? is this nba jam? i know the angle is in play here but still...
# 8 bigsmallwood @ 06/23/10 11:27 AM
Great write up! Looking forward to NBA Elite! Seems like the control is going to be really good.
# 9 scottyp180 @ 06/23/10 11:49 AM
damn some of you write off EA way to easy. I know that every year its usually the same old story with EA but seeing how Fifa and NHL have gotten huge improvements over the past years this could be the beginning of something good for the NBA franchise and basketball games in general. At worst this game will at least be a great starting off point to improving the game.
# 10 TreyIM2 @ 06/23/10 11:53 AM
"However, since the Elite team is trying to reward the skilled players this year, there is quite a learning curve involved in the execution of these moves. A bad stick maneuver will not only cause you to lose your dribble, but you might also launch into an unwanted shot since shooting is mapped to the same stick. "

Cool, reward us skilled playazzz! Ha. The part about shooting accidentally is something that concerned me from jump when first hearing of the integration of the shooting with the moves stick, especially in the heat of the moment but I definitely feel that learning NOT to do that is going to be apart of mastering the sticks.

Another thing - I still don't understand the hate on what EA is trying to do with this game not to mention the game is nowhere near finished yet there are negative judgments.
# 11 dexvex @ 06/23/10 12:00 PM
Originally Posted by hungryandrew
Yea why is Lebron rubbing his chin on the rim? This is going to be a failure.
your troll is a failure.....

# 12 TreyIM2 @ 06/23/10 12:11 PM
Originally Posted by hungryandrew
Negro please!!
Stop trolling, dude
# 13 Jano @ 06/23/10 12:13 PM
Originally Posted by Starlin4Prez
I was gonna say, doesn't LeBron's head go above the rim on pretty much every dunk??

I'm a little worried about the accidental shots as well, especially if it as difficult as it seems to pull of some of these moves, it almost seems inevitable that it will happen. I'm going to reserve my judgement for when I can actually get my hands on the new control scheme and try it for myself.

The only thing I hope for is the 100% smoothness of animations and the transitioning between them. The slow motion alley oops and lay ups were unbearable for me last year.
Well the one thing that gives me hope is the fact that most of the dribble moves seem to come from downward motions.

So even if we do attempt to dribble the ball the chances of accidentally putting up a shot are a bit lower.

But I guess thats something we will all have to wait and see on for sure..
# 14 Pared @ 06/23/10 12:32 PM
Guys, enough with the senseless remarks.

# 15 MrSimCity @ 06/23/10 12:55 PM
Originally Posted by Live Boii
another good read though it was hard to get a read on his personal feelings from his experience. i hope to see more info throughout the day though. Elite is seeming more and more like a great step for basketball games in general.
. Is there anything you'd like me to shed some further light on?

Personally, I thought it has great potential, the reason I love stick controls over buttons is the amount of variety that could be mapped to the sticks as opposed to buttons. In these sports games that release annually, depth and variety can go a long way.

It will be interesting to see how the dribbling and shooting work well together in the final version. I found it easier to make shots placing the face of my thumb on the bottom of the right stick - as opposed to having it directly on top of it like I do when dribbling.
# 16 franzis @ 06/23/10 03:42 PM
Any clue if the RS dribbling control will be "absolute" or " relative" to player movement?
# 17 Jano @ 06/23/10 03:49 PM
Its absolute
# 18 scottyp180 @ 06/23/10 03:56 PM
right now have only have 2 concerns:
1. The controls seem like they are going to take awhile to adjust to i just hope that they are responsive and not too complex. With all the different movements on the stick, variations applied with LT/L2, and (from what i understand) having to do quarter circles to perform layups and dunks it could be difficult to fully grasp all the controls and options you have at your disposal. I do have to say that i love the amount of control and options that EA is giving the player. I guess this is more of a concern for myself having to relearn how to play a basketball game, i just dont want to be in the middle of a game and have to keep pausing because I forget how to play. The pass button change will take some getting use to, especially since i dont play nhl games; however i like what it allows for the face buttons, really adds some more control and depth. Wonder how they will be used for defense, maybe for once basketball games won't be over powered on offense.

2) I hope ball handlers and shooters are not over powered in the game. I hope mastering these controls doesn't result in being able to just break down the defender continuously with players such as wade. Same goes for shooters. They say that shooting is based on skill so will getting someones shot down mean that I will be able to hit every shot with them, even with a hand in my face, just because I know how to shoot with a certain player.

I can't wait to get my hands on this game to see how much of a positive effect the innovations have on the game. I am also curious to see what 2k's response will be to these changes. What will their new control scheme be? Will they have some type of physics engine?
# 19 Nines @ 06/23/10 05:56 PM
Originally Posted by Jano
Its absolute
Music Jano... music to my ears. Now if only the FIFA team will take note and do the same.

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