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NBA 2K11 PS3 Review - -

Gameplay 9.5
Graphics 9.0
Sound 8.0
Value 9.5
Distributor: 2KGames
Review Date:
October 2010
Ash Pinch


NBA 2K11

I had been waiting a while to have a crack at NBA 2k11,there have been a number of enhancements in 2K11 over 2K10, the question is for anyone who loves basketball games, is this upgrade worth the cost of buying am entire game.  There has been a long time rivalry between EA’s NBA Live series and the 2K series from 2K Sports, with them trying to one up one another with each instalment.

NBA 2K11 has made some additions to range of modes that was previously on offer, most notably the Michael Jordan Challenges, these are a good inclusion to the series.  There is a huge emphasis on Michael Jordan; the main objective in this mode involves completing a list of ten challenges that are actually a handful of highlight games from his career.  The first challenge for example is from his return from injury game against the dominant Boston Celtics, where MJ scored a record high 63 points, 6 assists and you must still manage to shoot above 50%.  These challenges are great in a couple of ways, first they add an extra challenge to the aim instead of the aim just being to win, secondly, they are able to teach some of the younger players just how good MJ actually was and why many judge him the greatest of all time. 

There are a couple of problems that I found with this mode, during some of the challenges, particularly the points ones, I found myself only passing to MJ, this takes away from the natural play style of using the whole team, especially a team that also includes a once dominant Scottie Pippen.  Because the challenges are so specific you will find yourself playing very repetitive basketball, like when you only have a couple of assists left to get and that is all you are doing.   I would have liked to have seen a ranking system just like the training has in My Player mode, such that perhaps the 63 points would earn you a Pass, winning as well would earn a bronze, add a couple of steals for a Silver and throw in the 6+ assists for a Gold.  This would make the mode more accessible for Novice players and also give more players the opportunity to play as MJ in the modern NBA.

My Player makes a return in this outing, this was the cause of the most disappointment in NBA 2K11, I was expecting a far improved mode from 2k10’s.  I found that when playing I had the same complaints that I did a year ago.  The players on your own team are incredibly critical of any small mistakes, especially when your opponents scores, even if this is on a fast break when you had no chance of getting to the ball.  The acts for obtaining negative feedback far outweigh the positives.  This brings me to another point, the players stats are so awful and so slow to progress that even if you do make it to the NBA you will never be a superstar player even though you will replace them if you are the same position.

The Association is a mode that has existed for some time now; you choose a team and play through a number of seasons with control over the team as a whole, or the league if you force trading.  Blacktop is a street style mode; you can play pick-up games, slam dunk contests.  Exhibition mode makes a return and the game loads straight into this and then you must find the menu.  This may take some time if you are unfamiliar with the series.

Gameplay has been improved in 2K11, no longer will you feel as though you are in partial control of the player, you will still have these moments where the player will do something that you did not want them to, but these are far less frequent.  This is most noticeable when attempting the dribbling challenge in My Player mode, where previously it was very difficult to accurately move your player, this is now far less painful and almost feels one-to-one.  The controls can take a little time to get used to, with the left stick controlling general movement, the right stick is the ‘shot stick’, left trigger is the modifier and is responsible for crossovers, etc, and the right trigger is sprint.  This can take a little while to get used to but once you have spent a bit of time with the game then this will become quite intuitive.  The control layout cam be changed to more traditional layouts but I advise that players give the controls a try and persevere because they are good once a few games are under your belt.

The graphics is NBA 2k11 are generally very good; this is no surprise within the sports genre.  There are a few things that will really drive home the fact that you are playing a game.  One thing that drove me crazy was the modelling and animation of Larry Birds face, for someone who features so prominently in one of the MJ challenges this can be very irritating.  The crowds still look like only four or five people; this has been ongoing for a long time in sports games, in the thick of the game though the crowd is rarely focused on.

The commentary can be both great and also repetitive.  During the Michael Jordan challenges the commentators refer to things that had been happening within that series, or specific points about Michael Jordan.  During The Association the commentators also refer to previous games, stats, etc.  This adds a lot sense of realism to the commentary, on the other hand, the commentary can be quite annoying, with there being some repetitive comments, especially after you have played a decent number of games.  The sound effects are superb as usual with sports games and the crowd can really get you pumped up with the volume turned up a bit.

The presentation of NBA 2k11 is a bit of a catch 22, 2K Games have done an excellent job of recreating the presentation of ESPN, even the enormous amount of sponsors everywhere do not feel out of place.  After a little while of playing all the flashy presentation began to wear a bit thin, I simply wanted to be playing the game itself, not watching any flashy TV based presentations.  This is purely a matter of personal preference; some will love the over-the-top presentation while others will grow weary of it very quickly.

So is this worth the upgrade from 2K10, if the Michael Jordan challenges really appeal to you, or if the lack of control over the players bothered you then this is definitely worth the upgrade, if you have not bought a 2K basketball game in a few years and are looking for an in then this is a great time with the improved controls and MJ challenges.  This yearly update for the NBA 2K series has seen some marked improvements and is undoubtedly one of the best basketball games available on the market.


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