NBA 2K11 Review, Part 2: The rest

About two weeks ago, I wrote up my thoughts on the Jordan Moments area of NBA 2K11. (If you want to go back and read it, click here.) After logging a lot of time with the game — particularly online and in My Player — I’m fairly certain this is my favorite sports game since… well, I’m not even really sure. College Hoops 2K6 was a highly addictive game for me, even though it was highly flawed in retrospect. It was certainly the most fun I’d had with any basketball game prior to NBA 2K11, but when you talk about bang-for-the-buck, 2K11 bests it easily. In overall sports titles, I thought last season’s Madden with Pro-Tak, etc. was a huge step forward in gameplay, perhaps the most significant in some time. Any way you slice it, NBA 2K11 is easily one of the two or three best sports titles of this particular generation as far as I can tell.

After the jump, I’ll go through some of the highlights of the game for me personally, along with a few minor issues I’d like to see addressed in title updates and patches.

Off the top, I’ll say that I’ve spent really no time with Association or Blacktop. I know what the particular modes are, and they aren’t of much interest to me. Not that I’ve heard anything is bad about either mode, but I get much more enjoyment out of playing human opponents online than I do going through the paces against the computer.

I logged probably 25 games into my My Player season — second round draft pick of the Miami Heat, thank you very much! — and it’s been a blast. I always have a hard time choosing between My Player, ranked online games and Jordan Moments. I’ll admit to some excessive cheesing with my point guard character in an effort to get his teammate grade up. (Hey, those breakaway dunks are worth a lot in that department. Don’t judge me!) But I’ve loved going through the drills and games to develop a more competent player. Picking up endorsements has been a nice touch, too. I’m a Jordan Brand ambassador thanks to my hot start to my rookie season. Being locked into a single player and focusing on basic elements of your game really gives you a totally different experience from standard play where you’re switching players, etc. I focus on things like ball denial, rebounding position and other items I otherwise wouldn’t work on too much.

The bulk of where I’ve spent my time lately has been in online play, which can be a hit or miss experience. This is nothing new with 2K Sports. It takes entirely too long to find ranked matches against random opponents. I’ve yet to discover any sort of trick to circumvent long waits. Often times, the game briefly looks like it’s trying to connect — you’ll see the Red B button to abort message flash up — but then it just goes back to searching. Now, once in a game, I’ll say that it feels like I’m having better connections this season than in the past, which is particularly impressive from my vantage point seeing as how this is the only NBA game anyone can play online at the moment. No NBA Elite/Live to fragment the online play market. My, perhaps ill-conceived, hope: 2K Sports makes loads of cash this year and re-invests in its servers to create a better online experience.

One of my favorite things to do this season has been running actual NBA offenses. I use the Thunder as my primary team, and I’ve logged more time on the practice courts this season than ever in the past. It was a feature I’d never really use before, but the playbooks are deep and really interesting in how they fit together. Not sure what I mean? Check out this walkthrough of Lakers’ playbook.

This layer of detail has added so much to the game for me. I’ve got a group of 8-10 plays I run for the Thunder out of their double stack set every game. Before, I probably would’ve just isolated and run pick-and-roll.

So, as you can tell, I like the game. That being said, there are a few things I’d like to see addressed.

Commentary: It’s actually pretty decent, but if you play more than a few games with any given team, you’ll want to hit mute and listen to some music. I’m absolutely tired of hearing about the Thunder’s practice facility that is a converted roller rink, the surprise that Westbrook was as the No. 4 pick and why Kevin Durant wears No. 35. Maybe there needs to be more contextual commentary about how people are playing, and the anecdotes need to occur less frequently.

Passing: Rich “MaZe” Lopez of KixAndTheCity.com pointed this out to me, and while I’m not as critical of it as he is, there are probably too many instances of the wrong type of pass being thrown. Not sure how this can be accomplished, but when to bounce pass and when to chest pass is something the 2K crew could work on for a title update.

Online Play: Improvements must be made to the waits for ranked games. Re-invest this year’s haul in servers, 2K Sports!

One last word: Normally when a game comes out, even if it’s great, you’ll find glitch videos galore. I’ve seen no such example with NBA 2K11. I did want to share this one glitch, which I haven’t experience personally, but it gave me a laugh.

So after three weeks of play, are you still sticking with NBA 2K11? Have you moved on to other games already? I’ll continue to play this one for months, so let me know in the comments, on Twitter or on Facebook.

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