As far as I’m concerned, NBA 2K12 is a basketball simulation revelation. I picked up the title with my own money roughly a week ago and have not regretted the purchase for a second. The title is absolutely stacked with deep gameplay modes, easy-to-grasp, hard-to-master controls and an aesthetic that caters to my old school NBA sensibilities.
Essentially, NBA 2K12 feels like a basketball sim that was made with me and mind, and for that I am forever thankful.
See, I’ve used the gaming channel of CraveOnline many times before as my soap box to express how the National Basketball Association just isn’t for me anymore. I have nothing against the many talent players currently hitting the hardwood, but I just don’t get that feeling of excitement that I once got watching the NBA in the early-to-mid ‘90s. You know, the Golden Era of basketball, when Jordan, Bird, Magic and many, many more tore up the court on a daily basis. When the “Dream Team” took it to Barcelona in the 1992 Olympics and absolutely cleaned house. Those were the days when the NBA actually inspired me. As I grew older, that golden sheen disappeared and I became a jaded basketball curmudgeon, one that concerned himself more with the diva attitudes NBA superstars seemed to adopt than the actual performances on the court. Since that point, the NBA has never been the same for me.
But let’s bring this back around to why I love a basketball video game, that game being NBA 2K12. As I said, NBA 2K12 is a NBA game that speaks to me on a number of levels. But probably the most prominent is that this game was made with the old school, nostalgic fans not only in mind, but essentially driving the bus. NBA 2K12 is a love letter to that Golden Era of the NBA in every sense, when dudes weren’t afraid to wear shorts that failed to effectively hide their thunder.
In fact, the moment the game boots up you’re hit with an old school, sonic assault. Enter: Kurtis Blow’s “Basketball.” Honestly, this might be one of the best introductions to a game ever, from any genre. The reasoning: it made me beyond excited to actually fire up and play the game.
So much nostalgia to cram into a minute and a half.
And then you see them, all the legends that have defined the NBA over the years: Bird, Stockton, Malone, Shaq, Kobe, Derrick Rose, Dikembe Mutombo, Magic, Julius Erving, and Michael Jordan, of course, as well as many more. All of a sudden a jaded fan like myself remembered what made the NBA so special while growing up.
From that point I was sold, hook, line and sinker before I even got to the start menu of NBA 2K12.
But once you get into the game, you’ll find a whole lot to love about this title. Probably the game’s biggest draw is the new “NBA Greatest” mode, which is the title’s ode to yesteryear. Replacing last year’s “Jordan Challenge” mode, “NBA Greatest” spotlights a larger slice of NBA history and lets you relive 15 of the greatest rivalry match-ups the NBA has ever seen, complete with full classic rosters, authentic TV-style presentation accurate to the time period of the specific game you’re playing, and commentary tracks that are actually incredibly insightful instead of the typical sports game fair of boring and monotonous (I’m looking at you, Madden). I’m being completely honest when I say the “NBA Greatest” mode was worth my $60 alone.
You didn't think it possible, but "NBA Greatest" is better than "Jordan Challenge" mode.
Yet, strangely enough I haven’t blazed through all 15 of the classic games just yet, as my time as been spent elsewhere with the title. I speak of NBA 2K12’s “My Player” mode. “My Player” lets you create a basketball player from scratch, enter the NBA Draft and move your way up through the league from rookie, to legend, to Hall of Famer. Granted, modes like “My Player” have existed in sports games for quite a few years now, so I’m not trying to say NBA 2K12 is the originator or anything as absurd as that. But 2K Sports did manage to pull off this type of live-out-your-dream-of-being-a-pro-athlete game mode very well for a basketball simulation. It’s also worth noting that basketball, by nature, is a much easier, more action-packed sport to adapt to this kind of game type than a sport like baseball, where you’re not always directly involved in the action on the field (Hello, right fielders out there).
Truth be told, I constantly find myself diving head first into “My Player” mode — even if there are no NBA legends in sight — because there’s a sense that there’s always something to be done, whether it’s playing your next game, practicing to boost your Skill Points or holding a charity event to get the love of your team’s fans behind you. Erik Norris, Point Guard for the Phoenix Suns, still has a long way to go before he can retire with a secured spot in the Hall of Fame, but after each game I feel like I’m making progress towards that goal, and that’s what keeps me coming back. It’s like crack.
And you know what, I’ve only just scratched the surface of what NBA 2K12 has to offer. I’ve been playing the game nonstop since I picked it up and still haven’t dabbled in the title’s franchise mode, NBA: Creating a Legend mode, online multiplayer or any of the other game types available. I just don’t have enough time in the day to play everything this game offers.
If you’re a basketball fan, or even one that has become jaded on the sport like I, do yourself a favor and pick up NBA 2K12. I can’t recommend the game enough. The NBA might see a complete lockout this year, but you probably won’t even notice considering you’re going to have your hands full with NBA 2K12.