Most helpful positive review
24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2010
Alright, first of all to put this into perspective: I'm an old-school gamer. I play NBA simulations on the PC since NBA Live 1996 and even before that the arcade NBA Jam on some Sega console. I played nearly all NBA Lives from 1996 to 2008 and after that NBA 2k9, 2k10 and now 2k11. I played NBA 2k11 for about a week now. So I hope my review is able to help old-school gamers like myself, who are in doubt about wether or not this game is worth buying.
Also I have to say I didn't try the Jordan mode yet, because I don't really care about it and I didn't try the online mode, because I didn't get it to work yet.
The main emphasize in this review is the AI, the overall difficulty, the realism, and how much and fun this game is -- playing with and against the CPU. I must say I'm usually very critical, so maybe I'm too harsh on some points, although I really don't think so and try to be as fair as I can be.
I play 10 minute quarters, with the gameplay setting being set to "simulation" and the difficulty being set to All-Star (second highest). After a couple of games I slightly tweaked the gameplay settings so that the CPU wouldn't throw so many ridiculous alley-hoops, and miss (relatively) too many dunks. In the standard "simulation" settings I had the CPU throw 3 or 4 alley-hoops per game, and none of them were fair or plausible, while at the same time missing about 1 dunk per game, which also mostly wasn't plausible. Also of course I tuned the graphics according to my system (medium to high) and disabled commentary because to me it gets annoying after about two games.
Another thing I tried to tweak is the lane interception thingy. Because the CPU is intercepting way to many passes in this version. Of course this is generally a good thing, since in all previous NBA simulations you could throw ridiculous passes from one end of the court to the other end, with the ball clipping through 2 or 3 defenders and reach the target without problems. So generally I really like the concept of having to think about the passes you make. But sadly this concept doesn't work out all that great. There are at least 4 problems with passing overall. The first two problems are due to the fact that the passer and the guy receiving the pass often times just don't work together very well.
So problem number one occurs in the following situation: the guy receiving the pass is standing on the court in a position that makes a pass very plausible and possible. However, once you tap the pass button he all of the sudden moves to a different spot while the ball is in mid-air (the pass somehow is designed to land exactly at that new spot) although you of course never intended to pass to that spot, but to his original point where he was standing when you tapped the pass button. The problem now is that while moving to that new undesirable spot, a defender is in the passing lane and easily grabs the pass. There is absolutely nothing you can do about that. You didn't want to pass to that spot, because you knew that the passing lane would be crowded, but the CPU causes you to do it anyway and you turn it over as a result.
The second problem is that the guy you control when making the pass isn't all that bright (even if he is a very capable PG). Instead of throwing a lob pass, that flies above the heads of the defenders making it impossible for them to intercept, he throws a medium height pass that never has a chance to get to the receiving player because the CPU easily snatches it. This is very annoying when you try to pass to your PF or C who is posting up. More often than not you can not get him the ball just like that, because it is intercepted. Although generally this should be an easy and common pass. You have the same problem for example when you try to give the ball to a player who is cutting. It is very difficult to get it right, just because the passer isn't throwing a correct pass. I don't know of any way to control this. Maybe there is one, and I didn't figure it out yet.
The third problem is that the plain direction passing is flawed. I guess only 60% of the passes go to the guy you intended to pass the ball to, even though you of course point LS in the correct direction. The game just doesn't get it right and attempts some weird cross court pass that is easily intercepted because of the reasons above, although a much more plausible pass to a semi open guy was intended. So you should use 'explicit passing', i.e. the method where you press a combination of two buttons to precisely select which player should get the pass. This of course isn't always that easy, because some times the guy usually playing the 3 is currently playing the 4, or because in the heat of the moment you don't exactly know which button to press, to give it to the right guy. So you really have to be good, to get this right -- however of course problems 1 and 2 still occur, even if you are good.
Problem number four is that none of the previous three problems happen for your AI opponent. He can throw ridiculous passes all over the court without much of a problem. He can easily get it to the cutter or lob it in the post. So usually you will have much more turnovers than your AI opponent.
The controls are very very difficult to master. Like I said before, I'm an old-school player. I never had problems making super combos on Street Fighter or Tekken or stuff like that, where you have to make some weird 180 degree or 360 degree rotations with your controller and press a number of different buttons to make some special move. But in this game the iso-motion stuff is crazy difficult imho. Even something as trivial as a behind-the-back dribble is really hard. It really is much easier to do nice moves in real life than it is in the game. I think this is because the game is so fast, there is so much going on and you have the 3D perspective and have to think in some weird ways. Breaking your man down off the dribble is nearly impossible. Even below average defenders like Luke Ridnour will stop Chris Paul 1 on 1 most of the time (at least if YOU are Chris Paul). You just run into them and loose your dribble. Doing spin moves is frigging hard (where in the past you just had to press one button). Cross-overs and in-and-outs can be done rather easily but often times won't help too much. Also I always feel like I'm not totally in control over what my player is doing. Even getting to an exact spot on the floor is sometimes not possible because of some animation going on. I know it's very hard to get the balance between having smooth animations and having great control over your player, but this game really has too many animations and therefor is difficult to control.
Also sometimes it feels like you are playing a Hockey game instead of a Basketball game. It's difficult to discribe. You just seem to slide over the floor like a Hockey player. It is much much easier to get an open shot than to get to the basket. Just slide over the floor a couple of times (using the turbo button) and your defender is gone. Getting to the basket is much harder because you constantly run into your super strong defender and lose the dribble. Although sometimes it just magically works, because of some animation.
The CPU opponent plays extremely static with very little player or ball moving. He runs too many sets, and always the same, even if they didn't work the last three times. Basically most of the time the PG waits behind the three point line, three of his teammates are not moving at all, while the other guy cuts and gets a pass (you'll have to defend the cutter, because otherwise he'll nearly always will get an open shot here). Most of the time you'll see the opponents players just standing around until some guy tries a one on one move, once you successfully stopped the set play. Your AI teammates are very slow and stupid and their defense is attrocious. Even though your opponent doesn't play very smart, you will have to do a lot of player switching on defense to not let the opponent get easy looks or cuts, because your teammates just don't get it.
"Basketball is a game of runs":
The developers took this ancient wisdom far too far. I think this problem existed in previous versions, but never was it more obvious than in NBA 2k11. I mean it is really nice to have runs, because that's what happens in the real game. But in this game this stuff is getting out of hand. When your opponent is on a run, you have nearly no chance of stopping him until he somehow finally misses and the game has mercy and allowes you to score. You have to play as hard and concentrated as you possibly can to stop a run. It's really brutal. On the other hand, if YOUR team is on a run, the CPU can not hit anything and looses the ball all the time and the game becomes super easy. The problem is that now it is really important to get off to a good start, because if you don't, you already pretty much lost the game.
If you start the game 2:12, with the opponent being red hot right from the start, you can pretty much end the game. Because you will not be able to come back. Maybe this is because of my difficulty setting, but it really is true. If you don't somehow manage to get back into the game ASAP, you will find yourself behind for the rest of the game, because your team will not be able to make baskets and your opponent will hit 60% of his shots and steal the ball a lot and win by 20 or 30. On the other hand if you yourself start 12:2, you pretty much already won the game. The only time it is fun to play, is if the game starts balanced 8:10 or something like that. I don't think there is a way to control this behaviour via any gameplay settings.
Fadeaways work. I can't remember another NBA game where you really can hit fadeaways just like in this game. I generally like that. However now, your opponents PF will hit 7/10 fadeways easily, even with a hand in his face. Also, fadeaway bank shots from 18 feet out are sometimes no problem for even weak players.
A good thing is that now shots close to the basket actually go in without bouncing off the rim in a weird way. In earlier versions many shots didn't go when in reality those shots would virtually never be misses.
It's a good game. I don't know if it's better than a tuned NBA 2k10. I think the major reason for getting this game is because of the roster updates, and because the presentation is better. I didn't really highlight the positive things here. But the game is more realistic than ever before. It is also pretty annoying and might cause you to angrily push the reset button sometimes... Shot animations are better than in NBA 2k10 I think. Freethrows are still too unforgiving. The graphics are nice and the animations look great overall. The controls are too difficult. I think the PC version is worth it because it's pretty cheap and one can hope that community sliders and future patches will further improve the gameplay.