They call me “The Great.” I’m a 6’3”, Mohawk-rocking, inked-up point guard out of Cal State University Fullerton. I have a killer crossover and can drain triples all day. Oh, and one more thing… I’m a future NBA Hall-of-Famer.
Well, that’s the dream, anyway, for NBA 2K12’s revamped My Player mode, just one of the myriad ways to enjoy possibly the most in-depth basketball simulator ever created. Having covered all of the new tweaks to the game’s mechanics and the awesome NBA’s Greatest mode previously, the folks at 2K Sports thought it was time to unveil their bread and butter of 2K12.
NBA 2K12 (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [previewed], PC)
Developer: Visual Concepts
Publisher: 2K Sports
To be released: October 4, 2011
I was “The Great” hailing from my alma mater, but really, you can be anyone you want from practically any school in My Player mode. There’s an almost infinite feeling to the possibilities in NBA 2K12′s create-a-player system. Strangely, on the surface it may look a little shallow — initially allowing only for basic head and facial feature selections — but once a feature is chosen, the ability to tweak every facial feature from lips to ears amplifies tenfold.
It doesn’t stop with the face, either. Being “The Great,” I sported the one new accessory to this year’s game, the headband. If you saw it on a player last year, then you can assume it is in NBA 2K12. The game even goes as far as setting where logos can be placed on certain accessories.
Shoe aficionados fear not, even more kicks have been added to make sure your player has the look you want. You’re going to spend a lot of time in My Player, and 2K knows this. Making sure the character creator was super robust was as important to them as having the best-playing basketball videogame around.
Once my laces were tied and my hair was the way I liked it, it was on to the Rookie Showcase. This is a big change from how My Player worked in NBA 2K11. Last year, players entered the Draft Combine, which consisted of three games in empty, lifeless gyms to showcase your rookie’s talents. While it was true to how things really work, it was more or less a three-hour training mode, and boring, to boot.
This year’s Rookie Showcase is a game that pits all of the league’s top prospects in one make-or-break contest to see where they stack up for the oncoming draft. During the game, a letter grade is assigned based on performance. Scoring a lot, racking up assists, and playing good D can go a long away in ensuring a cozy draft spot.
There are also objectives assigned throughout — in my case, I needed to get eight assists and help hold the opposing team to less than 29 percent from behind the three-point line. But while there is only one game to play, it is not the only way to impress the scouts en route to landing a big rookie contract.
After the Rookie Challenge you’ll find your player’s linguistic skills put to the test in the pre-draft interview. In my case, three interviews with prospective teams were lined up: the New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers, and Charlotte Bobcats. It’s pretty amazing just how extensive each team’s questions for my star point guard were.
With the 17th pick, the Knicks representative started out asking if I could handle the pressures of playing in the spotlight of a big city. There were four answers to select, ranging from “I was born for this” to “it’s not for me.” You can answer however you want, but rub teams the wrong way and you’ll be heading to the bottom of the draft.
The Pacers had the 15th pick, but I showed them no interest and was quickly, but politely, let known I wasn’t in their interest either. The Bobcats with their 19th pick asked how they thought I stacked up with their current guard D.J. Augustin and if I could handle playing with a team that is still building — basically the “Do I mind losing?” question. With my interviews concluded, a mock draft slotted me as the 17th pick to the Knicks.
It’s extraordinary just how much time and effort in one year has clearly been put into NBA 2K12. I was told over 100 possible questions, consuming 30-35 hours of recorded audio, could have been asked depending on my position and interested team during the interviews.
With the Rookie Challenge and interviews behind it was time for the draft. Apparently, a lockout frees up NBA commissioner time, as David Stern’s vocal talents — a first — grace NBA 2K12’s draft.
The draft goes by quickly, but I still waited in anticipation, sweating it out as the Knicks passed me by. So much for the mock draft. Like a real draft, the experts don’t always call it right. Two picks later, though, I was property of the Charlotte Bobcats.
Where the draft ends, the true beginning of My Player commences. Unfortunately, with time not on my side, I was only able to scratch the surface of what’s been added past the robust beginnings.
Perfecting your skills is just as important as making sure you’re a role model for the sport. Fan support, team chemistry, and league-wide popularity go a long way in helping reach the end goal of the Hall of Fame. There are eight new skill games to improve a cornucopia of attributes, all the way from ball-handling to specific moves such as the step back and cross-over.
A new “key game” selection feature helps make hoop dreams come true faster. Instead of pounding out 82-plus games every season for your player’s career, a new option allows those pressed for time to skip to the marquee match-ups for their star. This means that monotonous games against the Sacramento Kings will be passed in favor of taking on Kobe and the Lakers, or whoever your team’s rival is.
Having the option to jump to the next key game really opens the door for My Player to be NBA 2K12’s mode of choice. It takes all the great action of the regular game and boils it down into a condensed 10- to 15-game personal experience. And if creating a rookie from scratch isn’t for you, there’s always the Create A Legend mode, which does practically the same thing with any player in the game.
NBA 2K11 was already one of the best sports games ever created and 2K could have easily taken this year off. After seeing NBA’s Greatest Mode and now My player for NBA 2K12 … like I said before, October 4 can’t come soon enough.