System: Xbox 360
Publisher: 2K Sports
Release Date: October 5, 2010
NBA 2K11’s biggest addition is summed up by the man on its box cover art: Michael f’n Jordan. Somehow this is the first game on the current generation of video game consoles to include MJ, and he is all over 2K Sport’s latest offering. Not only can you play as His Airness and a number of famous Bulls teams from the 80’s and 90’s, but there is even an entire game mode devoted to him. The Jordan Challenges, as this feature is so aptly titled, are a collection of ten of Jordan’s most amazing feats. These are all legendary moments in the man’s career, and they can be ridiculously hard to accomplish, even in this video game. Some of the challenges included are “The Arrival” (April 20, 1986 playoff game, score 63+ points and shoot 50% from the field) and “The Shrug” (June 3, 1992 playoff game, score 35+ points in the first half, make 6+ three pointers in the first half, hold Clyde Drexler to under 20 points, and win the game). There are ten total challenges, and beating them all unlocks a new “create-a-legend” mode which is similar to the “my player” mode except this time you play as a rookie Jordan instead of a created player. Needless to say, the focus on Michael Jordan is huge in this year’s game, and it will help sell a lot of copies (especially since its competition, NBA Elite, won’t be released until next year).
Other staples of the NBA 2K series are still present and as good as ever. The Association mode remains incredibly deep, giving the user the ability to act as both a team’s coach and general manager, and play multiple seasons at a time. The “My Player” mode is a fun excursion that allows created players to partake in summer league games, get drafted by an NBA team and attempt to work their way up to being a superstar. A cool bonus to this mode is the ability to play a “pick up game” against other created players via Xbox Live. Online play is back, and although it currently has some lag and connection issues, there is a patch on the way that should help things out.
For hardcore and casual fans alike, NBA 2K11 will keep gamers busy for a long time. It’s not perfect — there are some minor issues with the gameplay, such as tricky passing controls, and problems shooting from the side (these shots tend to hit the side of the backboard too often) — but this is easily the greatest and most complete basketball experience currently available. NBA 2K11 is a remarkable game, and the 2K series has clearly taken over as the premiere basketball series.