Video Game Review: ‘NBA 2K12’ Brings Sport Home During Lockout

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CHICAGO – “NBA 2K12” is tough. And I mean that in the most complimentary way. I’m old enough to remember basketball games that were all about the timing of a button press but 2K Sports has revolutionized the way we simulate the game in the comfort of our own homes. The detailed controls along with the best audio/video presentation yet produced for this award-winning series make this a strong contender for the best sports game of the year. Video Game Rating: 5.0/5.0
Video Game Rating: 5.0/5.0

What does a sports franchise do when their sport isn’t actually being played? The current NBA lockout does cast a bit of a shadow over this year’s release. One of the highlights of recent iterations of the game has been the “NBA Today” feature — a brilliant feature that allowed player to jump into the real-world match-ups that were going on that day complete with fully-updated rosters. As even the most casual sports fan knows, there are no current rosters, no actual match-ups, as the sport looks more and more likely to take off the entire season due to the lockout. A year without basketball on TNT? Most people are so caught up in the NFL and Postseason MLB that they may not truly miss it yet but it’s going to be a long winter without one of our country’s favorite sports. Having a game like “NBA 2K12” will lessen the pain.

NBA 2K12
NBA 2K12
Photo credit: 2K Sports

It’s almost as if they knew there would be a lockout and planned for it with last year’s release, as that title focused heavily in the history of the sport, putting Michael Jordan on the cover and allowing players to control some of the best in the history of the game. Naturally, with the lockout in full swing, the focus on the history of the NBA and its best players has returned. This year, Larry Bird is on the cover and the first element of the gameplay that’s advertised on the back of the box is that you can now play through the careers of 15 of the game’s greatest including Jordan, Bird, Magic Johnson, and more. They might as well say on the cover, “Please, ignore the fact that the NBA is on hold and take a trip through history.”

NBA 2K12
NBA 2K12
Photo credit: 2K Sports

The “NBA’s Greatest” aspect of the game is fun and as expertly conceived and developed as the rest of the game, but it’s never been the big draw for me. I’m a season player, the kind of guy who likes to pick a team (the Chicago Bulls this year, of course) and go game-by-game. Once again, one of the most remarkable things about a game like this one is how completely it plays to every audience. If you’re like me, you’ll be satisfied with the depth and presentation of the Season structure. But it’s just as satisfying for people who like Online Play, simple Play Now functionality, My Player (in which you control one guy from creation to the Hall of Fame), and the NBA Legends modes.

As I said, “NBA 2K12” isn’t easy. You can decrease difficult levels and sliders and play a basic one-button shoot system but there’s not much reward in that and if you play even on the basic “Pro” level with default settings, you’re going to have to practice to become one of the best. It’s a tough game to master but it becomes more and more rewarding as you learn the ins and outs of your team and its players. Executing a beautiful assist or a fastbreak dunk becomes something greater than a typical game animation as you truly master the moves of the game. I’m not sure there has ever been a more rewarding sports franchise than “NBA 2K” (although, for some reason, I always feel like I suck again and need more practice with each annual installment).

NBA 2K12
NBA 2K12
Photo credit: 2K Sports

In terms of presentation, the game has never been more accomplished. Steve Kerr has joined the audio team and there’s never been a sports game that more remarkably stays in tune with what’s happening on the court. With very little repetition and complete awareness of gameplay, this is a stunning audio presentation that’s so good that you might not even notice it until you pay attention. In other words, it sounds just like a TNT broadcast to the point that you could take it for granted. The game is visually stunning too with a bit of repetition in the crowd shots (every tenth person is often doing the exact same thing) but amazing detail in the shot animation and player design. It’s always fluid.

Once again, the game has a stunning level of player accuracy. Knowing the Bulls pretty well, I was stunned at how accurately it felt like they represented players like Carlos Boozer, Derrick Rose, and Joakim Noah. Getting to know their strengths and weaknesses in certain game situations is an essential ingredient for success and that is only because of how accurately they’ve been represented. Down to the last player, these are not carbon copies. They are individuals to a degree that has never before been seen in a sports game.

What’s the best sports game on the market? “NCAA Football,” “Madden Football,” “FIFA,” EA’s “NHL” series, and “MLB The Show” all have their fans but I think 2011’s contest has officially been won by “NBA 2K12.” Having played most of the major sports games of the year, I found none as rewarding as this one. It’s such a good game that it could get more people interested in the actual sport…assuming they ever play it again.

NBA 2K12’ was released by 2K Sports and developed by Visual Concepts. It is rated E (Everyone). The version reviewed was for the PS3, but the title is also available for the XBox 360, PC, PS2, and Wii. It was released on October 4th, 2011. content director Brian Tallerico

Content Director

nba 2k12 player's picture


Obviously you have not played the game enough. You do not know about all the problems and bugs in this game. Online play does not work. Game crashes and lags even when offline. YOu should look through the NBA 2k12 forums and other areas and do more research on this topic.

peterwatson's picture

I continuously continue

I continuously continue coming to your website once more simply in case you have posted new contents.Lincoln Olsen

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