One of the most highly anticipated games of the year, NBA 2K12, hit shelves across the nation on October 4th, and while it has only been about four days since it's arrival, there are already some shockers in the newest of the series of basketball games.
Some are good. Some are bad. And some are just flat out hideous.
If you have the game already, you know what I'm talking about. But if you haven't bought the game yet, use this as your guideline to determine whether the game is actually worth all of that money.
This year's installment of the NBA 2K series features three different front covers you can have.
Whether you want the ultimate play maker, Magic Johnson, the 6-foot-9-inch phenom in Larry Bird, or the greatest ever in Michael Jordan, 2K Sports gave its consumers the option to have one of, arguably, the three greatest players ever on their NBA 2k12 case.
2K Sports did everything you could ask for and more to totally reshape the My Player mode from past years.
While I don't want to spoil the fun for those who haven't gotten the game yet, this year's My Player mode features an annual salary with which you must buy skill sets, layup/dunk packages and more; it also features more in depth drills including Around the World, Fast Break, Full Court Press and the popular childhood game, Knockout (just to name a few).
There's also the option to skip to your next key game rather than play all 82 games.
Additionally, 2K added extra endorsements (JACKPOT!) to the season, and they completely removed the Ball Handling attribute. Instead they replaced it, along with a few other skill sets, with the abilities tab, where you must pay an egregious amount of hard earned skill points to upgrade certain aspects of your game.
And arguably the best thing they added to My Player mode (wait, should I ruin it?) is the all-new Create-a-Jumpshot tab. With a myriad of different release points and base jumps, the possibilities are endless. You can also choose to defer to another player's jump shot form, but until you stack up enough money to buy it, you're out of luck.
I could go on and on forever about the different upgrades they made to the My Player mode, but how about you just run to your local GameStop and grab a copy for yourself?
Let's cut straight to the point.
You're going to want to play on the Pro difficulty for the first few weeks that you own the game. Don't try pushing it up a notch to All-Star. Don't get bold with Superstar, and please don't sign your own death sentence on Hall of Fame.
2K Sports took into consideration the difficulty—well, lack thereof—in NBA 2k11 and made it nearly impossible to make the smallest error without the computer capitalizing on it.
So hit that Practice mode hard before you get adventurous.
NBA 2K12 features the first ever Online Association mode. Pretty cool, huh?
You can do everything from trade players and draft picks to scout rookies and sign free agents.
And the best part? It's 10 years long!
So why the C- grade you ask?
Unfortunately, though they added this brilliant new mode, they removed one of the best aspects of previous NBA 2K games.
Yes, it's a sad day for NBA 2K gamers across the globe. There are rumors floating around that they may make it a Downloadable Content for $20, but as of now, there is no My Crew mode.
There IS, however, a Team Play lobby, which moves a bit choppy, but until My Crew mode is available, I will be incredibly unsatisfied.
2K pulled a huge blunder here.
First off, the fact that there are no rookies in the game at all, which probably has something to do with that lockout that's in place, is very unsettling. But it seems as though whoever they gave the ratings job to just pressed a randomize button and kept it pushing.
Whether it was giving LeBron James an 80 Offensive Clutch rating, which we all know he doesn't deserve, or dropping the Black Mamba's mid range jump shot rating to a 78 (blasphemy considering that they gave the Sacramento Kings' Eugene "Pooh" Jeter a 94 mid range and Dirk Nowitzki a 99), the ratings are all mixed-up.
A prime example of a ratings mishap is Wesley Matthews of the Portland Trail Blazers. Matthews fully earned his 87 three-point rating by shooting 41.4 percent from downtown last season. But did he shoot that poorly from anywhere else to earn a 57 mid range jump shot rating?
Ray Allen was given a 91 three-point rating, while Richard Jefferson was given a 90.
Maybe it's me, but is the greatest three-point shooter in NBA History just a hash of a better shooter than RJ?
NBA 2K12 completely retooled your arsenal of offensive attacks by adding newer size-ups, continuous isomotion and new-and-improved ball handling techniques.
With all the new features added, you can break down the defender in almost any way imaginable.
However, I do have a bone to pick with a few small things:
There's about a half-second delay on ALL passing. You either already know what I mean, or you'll see it when you get the game. This small delay makes passing a nightmare, especially when you're trying to hit the cutter.
Also, 2K reverted back to the 2k10 style of losing the ball if you try to do too much, which is fine except for when Chris Paul drops the rock in the midst of a simple in-and-out.
The biggest annoyance with the dribbling aspect is turning the ball over. If another player, whether it's your teammate or defender, so much as runs into the ball, it's gone. End of story.
It's a killer in My Player mode, especially when you're just starting out, but it's even worse when it happens to an established Point Guard like Steve Nash.
2K Sports removed the Slam Dunk Contest and the Three Point Shootout, leaving just 5-on-5 pickup games in the NBA Blacktop section.
Need I say more?
With the exception of LaMarcus Aldridge, DeShawn Stevenson and about a handful of other players, 2K12 finally gets it right with mimicking players' jump shot forms perfectly.
Making corrections to players like Dirk Nowitzki, Blake Griffin and countless others, 2K took a step in the right direction on this one.
After a disappointing portrayal of the ferocious athletic ability of last year's Rookie of the Year, Blake Griffin, NBA 2K12 features and up-to-date dunk package for the young superstar.
While his fast break dunks are far from spectacular, expect to make a poster out of anyone lingering too far under the basket.
2K12 also includes a more realistic set of layup packages (yes, Russell Westbrook/Monta Ellis' slashing layups are included), which can be extremely deadly when used correctly.
Maybe it's because I haven't mastered the art of playing defense in NBA 2K12 yet, but I find it relatively hard to lockup guards by myself.
It's all about anticipating movement and beating your man to the spot, like a real NBA game.
The greatest improvement made to the game, in my opinion, was the broadening of the offensive post.
Gone are the days where a hook shot, a fadeaway and a predictable up-and-under were your only options on the block. With an expanded repertoire of moves in the low post, you can do anything from create separation or lean back into the defender to drive to the paint or lower your shoulder and charge into your defender (with an increased risk of an offensive foul).
The possibilities, once again, are endless!
And it doesn't end there! There's also an updated defensive post, where anticipating your man's move will almost certainly lead to either a turnover or poking the ball loose. You can even "pull the chair" from under the defender.
Whether it's Al Jefferson, LaMarcus Aldridge, Zach Randolph or Pau Gasol, grab your favorite post player and head to the practice gym to familiarize yourself with the new moves.
Or, even better, you could head on over to the new Training Camp mode and learn the ins and outs of NBA 2K12, including the post game.
Though the online play, ratings and lack of an updated roster put me, along with countless NBA 2K12 players, at an uneasy feeling, the gameplay, new features and ridiculously entertaining My Player Mode earn the newest installment to the NBA 2K series an A-, or a 8.8 out of 10.
Until 2K officially releases information on the availability of a My Crew mode, it's hard to envision the rating getting any higher. And if this NBA lockout never ends, we'll be playing with the same messed up rosters for the whole year.
Nevertheless, if you haven't done so already, sprint to your nearest game store and pay the $65.64 for your own copy. Take your old games back for trade-in credit (the little bit you'll get), and save a couple bucks on what could be the best game of 2011.
If you have XBox Live and are looking for a challenge, be sure to send me a friend request: LiveFromBklyn.