2K Sports went all in with this year’s installment in its basketball series, NBA 2K11. After last year’s blowout tenth anniversary edition, with its retrospectives, limited edition lockers and sky-high review scores, the team pulled out its trump card: Michael Jordan.
Who knows what they could possibly do next year that won’t be a disappointment, but that’s a topic for a different day.
Everything from last year’s edition is here, from Association Mode to the My Player campaign. The NBA Today feature, which integrates real-life events and lets you play the day’s games with accurate records and rosters, has been polished up. But what’s really worth talking about in 2K11 is the suite of additions related to His Airness.
The main mode here, Jordan Challenge, allows players to recreate MJ’s famous games, from his Finals against Magic’s Lakers to the flu game against the Jazz. 2K licensed the entire opposing teams as well as the Bulls for all these match-ups, and each has its own specialized commentary interspersed throughout. These challenges are tough: after all, these are the best games of the best player of his time, and you have to be that good to recreate them. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, though. Beating all the challenges gives you access to MJ: Creating a Legend, a modified My Player mode where you place MJ on any current team and play through his career in the modern league.
Besides Jordan, 2K has tweaked the dribbling controls and allowed for a bit more improvisation in shooting. The series already had a polished game system, but the new elements do help somewhat. The Association mode supposedly has smarter trades, but the system is still easy to exploit. What is helpful, though, is the new Trade Finder feature, where you can get dozens of offers for a player and choose your favorite. (Most of them aren’t exactly even trades, but it’s still useful when you’re dumping a player requesting a trade or trying to see what you can get for a draft pick.) Also added this year is a White House visit for the champions, which even in 2019 includes President Obama. That’s not a big deal, really, but we thought it was amusing.
Is this the next big thing that finally appeals to those who didn’t like previous games? Certainly not. There is, however, much more content added than we usually get in a yearly update, and the core gameplay is still solid.