NBA 2K11 has been up for various sports game of the year awards and has also been regarded as the best 2K Sports game since ESPN NFL 2K5 (bleh). That's high praise from the sports gaming community but unfortunately it's completely unfounded based on journalists' need to crown one NBA game the winner this year. And since there really wasn't much competition, NBA 2K11 won by default. Unfortunately, just by winning this meaningless "competition," this game was launched into a similar sphere at NHL 11 and MLB The Show 10 both of which are completely ridiculous. NBA 2K11 is one of the most overrated games I've ever seen.
Apparently adding Michael Jordan can add a lot of praise in a game these days. This mode has been seen as a groundbreaking one, enabling you as the user to relive all of Air Jordan's biggest games and moments. Oh wait just games. Sure that makes sense when you're replaying the famous 69 point game and other similar affairs but when you're playing the game against Utah in '98, the only part you should be playing is the final shot. None of the rest of the game is remembered. Seeing Karl Malone before the Mailman was hunting little Mexican girls and before he grew hair would be awesome but that's it. Madden Moments should be the mode they were trying emulate. The Jordan mode isn't one that's going to take even a decent amount of the lifespan of the game so why force it? They should just be some of the great moments. Maybe they could somehow integrate his dunks vs. Dominique into the game. Anything that isn't a full game. I don't want to have to play a whole game to try and score 69 points when I'm pretty sure I've never done that with one player in an NBA video game. And that's on the first level of challenges!
The franchise mode isn't much to scream about either. Their chemistry and player roles portions are very nice additions but sometimes make no sense and can single handedly ruin a team. Once I had Anthony Randolph putting up 17 PPG and starting every game at SF but then suddenly he got angry. Why? I don't know. He had a max contract and was my second highest scorer behind Blake Griffin. Maybe sports games should sit out the chemistry game until these features stop acting up and ruining teams. I'm not going to continue a franchise if one random event blows up my team. Ain't gonna happen. Especially if there's nothing in my power I can do to fix it.
The gameplay is solid just as it's been since I first played the series way back with 2K2 on PS2. Nothing spectacular about it. Nothing flashy. The dunks still feel underwhelming and not happening nearly enough. Crossovers are basically useless in the game and impossible to figure out how to do on default control. Chris Paul can't shoot that well. What he can do is beat his man off the dribble consistently but unfortunately that feature has essentially been removed. Why? Don't ask me because I don't have the faintest idea. I even looked through the instruction manual to find out for chrissakes. Wasn't there. Maybe I just missed something but I sincerely doubt it.
You can also play lockdown defense on your opponent and they'll seemingly always make 60% of their shots or some figure close to it. By the way, they're playing perfect defense at the other end. And it doesn't help that your players are waaaaay to dumb to just dunk it and have to make everything look fancy. Dunks are usually 10-1 in favor of the CPU which is plain ridiculous. They're not doing anything differently; their players are just smart enough to throw it down and not try to look like the corpse of Vince Carter.
People are comparing this game to NHL and MLB that both have deeper franchise/dynasty modes (with the Show's being overwhelmingly deep compared to everything else) and much more interesting and dynamic gameplay. Never in those games have I felt half the comeback AI that's plagued NBA 2K11 in the shorter amount of time I've had it. I can feel like I'm greatly outplaying the CPU but then they've got Amare' Stoudemire hitting 3's and there's nothing I can do.
These kinds of bugs and lack of interesting gameplay aren't in the sports game of the year, which I'll unveil next week. This game's essentially been crowned by comparing it to NBA Elite 11 and the disappointing NBA Jam, where the only redeeming feature is getting to play as Joe Biden.
NBA 2K11 is nowhere near the class of elite sports games of 2010. NHL, MLB, Madden and NCAA clearly outrank it this year. Maybe it's just because I'm a bigger fan of those sports but I've been a fan of NBA games in the past. This game just doesn't feel special to me. It's just overrated.