As many of you already know, I had the opportunity to play NBA 2K12 for the past two days, here at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany. Before I start with my impressions, I want to tell you where I come from, in the NBA 2K series. I started with NBA 2K7, which I thought was the greatest game ever. It still has a certain place in my heart. I played that game every day. I thought NBA 2K8 was good, but not as great as NBA 2K7. No momentum shots killed it for me. NBA 2K9 and NBA 2K10 were huge disappointments to me. It felt like they totally lost the controls in those games, even the shooting became worse. NBA 2K11 was really good again, but also had some issues. I have to admit that I liked NBA Live a lot, especially the last ones, because there are certain aspects of the game that are better than the NBA 2K games, for example spacing and working the ball around for a good shot.
With that said, let’s talk about NBA 2K12. The demo featured the Dallas Mavericks against the Miami Heat. I was automatically assigned to the Mavs, but could switch to the Heat, via option menu. Play calling was disabled, just like last year with 4 minute halves. The pregame introduction is great this year, as you can see in one of my videos, posted earlier.
Gameplay. After winning the tip, I moved around with my player and it felt a lot like NBA 2K11. I think the offensive movement, with the left stick has remained unchanged. The first disappointment came when I tried every possible combination, to see whether or not manual passes were in the game (bounce passes for example, like in NBA 2K7). I really wanted to see that in the game, but I couldn’t figure it out, couldn't find the modifiers.
The second thing on my watch list was shooting, I thought it was one of the largest shortcomings in NBA 2K11. I’m happy to say, jump shots are fun again. There are now momentum jumpers from every possible angle, whether you are running or walking. My favorite has to be when you walk towards the rim, in a straight line and push the x button, you get an immediate and smooth forward leaning jump shot. It’s really useful when you want to pull up on a fast break. It feels great too. Shooting is better, because of the release points. It’s not just a couple of milliseconds, then let go of the button. Now you can really elevate again and release the shot at the top of the jump. Jason Kidd doesn’t jump when shooting, but still feels a lot better than before. I could go on and on about shooting, that was the most important thing for me to look at.
Well after those observations I was pretty much sold. But let me tell you about some other cool stuff, before I arrive at some of the negatives. I’ve never been a great post game player in the NBA 2K series, but this could definitely change with NBA 2K12. It’s really easy and intuitive. You back down with the Y button, from anywhere on the court, then you can do all sorts of moves in the post. I’m sure I only scratched the surface of the available arsenal this year in the paint. I tried a few combinations and it was great to see what you can do. But quite honestly, I had no idea what I was doing, but I can state the post game is much more fun.
I thought defenders were much more active in helping out. I saw some early doubles for Dirk and rotations were made all over the place. I have to say, it’s still not as open (spacing-wise) as NBA Live 10 was, but you could tell the differences. For example, when I got a screen from LeBron, you could see the third defender rotated to the zone, to prevent penetration. Much more about that from Czar, if he makes the videos again this year.
Not everything was roses, I have to bring up some of the negatives. I want to demonstrate this with a play I often use in NBA 2K games. Let’s say I control Wade and get a screen from Bosh at the perimeter, I go around the screen to the corner to penetrate into the zone, which brings the help of a third defender in most cases, then I try to pass out to my open jump shooters, for a corner three. Okay, that’s why I loved NBA 2K7 so much. When you penetrated you could really kick the ball out with the manual bounce pass, for an open J. In NBA 2K11 and now also in NBA 2K12 (at least in this early build) the problem exists. Actually, there are two problems.
1) No manual bounce pass means Wade would throw an overhead pass to the corner 3, which often resulted in a throw at the backboard, going out of bounds.
2) Those passes get deflected 9 out of 10 times, even if the help defender is next to you.
I couldn’t find any passing modifiers in the build I was playing.
Here are some quick observations:
- Players can stumble when running up the court
- More contact shots in the zone
- Great physics
- Size Up Moves seemed to have changed, look for that in the videos. I couldn’t figure out how it worked, but felt like you had more control over the dribble.
- Defensive movement improved
- Much more fighting for the ball on rebounds thanks to the new ball physics
- Steve Kerr did an excellent job as a third commentator
In summary, I would say the playable version of NBA 2K12 at Gamescom, was great, very similar to NBA 2K11, but improved in the right areas. It’s still early, but to me it’s already looking like a must buy, lockout or not.