NBA 2K11 Review: Presenting His Royal Airness – The Legend Soars Again

NBA 2K11 brings a visceral experience to this generation of consoles that players have been aching for with the basketball since NBA 2K5: to play as the legendary player Michael Jordan himself. There is a severe level of disappointment when a player ranks up his own player in NBA 2K10, works hard for legendary players, and sees Michael Jordan missing from the all-star lineup that makes the play incredible. The new IsoMotion dribble controls are stunningly fluid, the visuals are unparalleled with glossy shine, the My Player Mode is finally less exhausting in terms of getting recruited, and the dynamic shot control gives an unprecedented reality to the hoop approach of the dunk. Jordan Challenge is a bit of a disappointment, and most of the iconic matches from Michael Jordan’s career are less iconic in the game due to a limited variety of simulating real life events at the sake of realism. Regardless, NBA 2K11 is the most realistic NBA experience to date and vastly improved from NBA 2K10. NBA 2K11 brings the complete and definitive package to not just the career of his Royal Airness, but also the careers of many talented athletes that live by the court and breathe victory regardless of the outcome.

NBA 2K11 engenders the career of Michael Jordan and attempts to make players relive His Airness’ amazing matches. Sadly, the game starts off rather dull upon the realization that Michael Jordan is not any different than other players, there is no real persona to his character and he is equivalent to any other player. The introduction of Michael Jordan to a glorious and cheering crowd seems undeserved as an introduction to a legend, and there seems to be more of a depth needed to establish his character from the real world, to the simulation world of the game. Players do not feel like an icon even playing in the 1991 NBA Finals. The Jordan Challenge mode further disregards much fun, as it places impractical statistical milestones that forces players to dedicate themselves to a score than truly show off Michael Jordan’s achievements of grandeur on the court. It forces players to be a selfish player and keep the ball for themselves, which is a gameplay strategy that hardly lands you into the NBA let alone legendary status.

NBA 2K11 gives justice to Michael Jordan and other players through a realistic strategy and control layout. Defense has been improved, seeing guards that are overly intrusive to make a shot. The A.I. forces Kobe Bryant or Lamar Odom to give you a semblance of a challenge approaching the hoop unless players change their strategy.  Pick-and-rolls are much easier to engage in and finally lock-down defenses are better strategically enhanced to intercept passes or lay-ups to the rim. The vastly overhauled AI works is incredible combined with real strategic placement on the court and most of all the mid-court.  The controls schemes are incredibly more fluid for passing to your opponents, while strategic placement takes the game much further into the bounds of varying your movement itself.

IsoMotion combined with the Dynamic Shot Control system gives an unprecedented amount of movement through the shots, lay-ups, juke attempts, and finally dribbling modus operandi that can overcome the opponent. The trigger controls allows players to lean in different and specific directions, allowing an under-arm shot from the opponent. Dribbling itself is more dynamic and diverse. Players can dribble the ball with a realistic feel combined with passing to an even more improved gesturing system that allows players to translate motion to the perimeter.  There is finally real movement in the players, combined with a lighter weight for a free-form effect and gameplay enhancements like these allow for fast passes to the rim or even shorter and more nuanced shots.

NBA Careers hardly focus on one player alone, and once again the NBA 2K11 MyPlayer feature allows players to start an entire NBA career both on, and off the court this time with some attitude. MyCareer starts the career with the infamous Draft Combine system to get drafter at the NBA Draft and head towards NBA éclat. The worst part about NBA 2K10 was the horrible bluntness in the NBA Draft Combine, filled with glitches and much more. Players would have to get perfect games constantly to be recruited during a team’s summer camp, and then if post-draft they failed below an unbelievable average, they were dropped from the team. Such unrealistic expectations such as a perfect game every time and a 3:1 shot-to-block ratio made NBA 2K10’s MyPlayer feature abysmal. NBA 2K11 does away with MyPlayer problems and completely revamps it into something more unique and manageable. After the draft, the career is simple and makes sense. One new addition to NBA 2K11 that 2K Sports adds in is the press conference feature. Incredible gameplay variations done by the real-time engine rather than pure scripting leads to dynamic interaction not just on the court, but with reporters off the court. This serves to not only go simply on the gameplay numbers, but also the very method of play the specific player used: was the player a great passer or did the player set up a nice layup for the outside offense? Finally, NBA 2K11 brings a realistic and undying approach to the career functionalities of a player.

The online mode within NBA 2K11 plays without a problem. Initially, the servers experienced some heavy lag during the game release, but they have cooled off and we have finally received final impressions that make NBA 2K11 worthwhile to play online. Leagues are still strong, and allows for further teaming up with different MyPlayer players online with legendary rosters between friends or serious ladder competition players.

Presentation within NBA 2K11 is extremely superb and prime. The commentary is precise and customized to highlight Michael Jordan’s potential in games such as “The Arrival” and even the Finals, while other games refer to iconic moments that were seen as frustrating to Jordan or even surprising when he made an unbelievable shot. Each game within Jordan Challenges can serve to be impressively commented on, and the height of the legendary people he went up against realized: Magic Johnson, Byron Russell, and more.

NBA 2K11 is undoubtedly the golden basketball simulation title of this year. There is an incredible amount of depth through the presentation, realism through the motion and movement of the ball, and finally a majesty that allows players to experience the legendary and most of all iconic player that Michael Jordan truly was in the NBA. Players, both novices and hardcore basketball aficionados alike, should expect to lose hundreds of hours just exploring the incredible variety of moves on the court, personas they can exhibit of their personal MyPlayer player with a revalued system that is not frustrating, and online gameplay combined with an immaculate presentation that is unforgettable.  NBA 2K11 has finally reached a potential that any basketball game hopes to be: legendary.

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