No, there may not be an NBA season this year. But there is another installment of "NBA 2K," the top-rated basketball video game for 11 years running.
This year's version, "NBA 2K12," will let you end the debate about what historical team is the greatest by offering 15 classic teams and players to battle on the court.
The enhancements to the My Player mode, which allows you to create your own player and guide his career through the NBA draft, his rookie season and beyond, are what really make this an engaging game.
Like in previous versions of the game, you start off by creating your player's physical attributes (height, weight, age, etc.). The game then assigns your abilities based off what type of player you want to be (perimeter shooter, post player, etc.). In theory, you could create a 7-foot point guard with zero post abilities, but I'm guessing the high dribble would make you susceptible to steals.
After finalizing your player, you immediately play in a rookie showcase game that helps determine where you are selected in the"NBA Draft. This game shows off "NBA 2K12's" improvements over previous versions in replicating players' movements and facial features. The game's announcers also do a good job of mixing your player's performance into their play-by-play chatter.
In the game, you try to play flawlessly while improving your teammate grade by making good passes, playing transition defense and demonstrating other skills that lead to victory. Meeting these goals help increase your skill point totals, which translate into improved attributes.
I created a 6-foot-6 shooting guard from Marshall University (my alma mater) and picked up 18 points and a B-minus on my teammate grade in the rookie game. After the game, your player has to answer two questions from teams that will be interested in drafting him. How you answer is taken into consideration prior to the draft.
The Charlotte Bobcats (No. 9 pick), Golden State Warriors (No. 11) and Utah Jazz (No. 12) were interested in my shooting guard. I answered the questions in a way that I hoped would get me selected by each team, but there was an answer choice, "I do not want to play for your team," that would have automatically dropped me off that team's list.
Then it's time for the draft. Just like in real life, the draft starts off with NBA Commissioner David Stern (yes, it was really his voice) announcing the first pick and continuing on until your player gets selected. If you don't get picked early, this can be a rather drawn-out process since there is no way to skip to your selection.
(Developers say the highest any created player can be selected is No. 4 (Cleveland Cavaliers), so don't set your sights on being the top pick.)
After walking to the podium and signing your rookie contract, your team's public relations department contacts you and shows you a new billboard touting you as the future of the franchise. Having been selected by the Bobcats, it was pretty cool to see my player on some outdoor advertising in Charlotte.
Now it's time to earn that contract.
Your player's skills can be improved through buying skill points with your contract money or by doing individual and team drills -- most of which are new to this game.
My shooting guard took advantage of the new arsenal of moves in "NBA2K12" to put up 33 points in 16 minutes in his first game. (Oh, you didn't think your rookie was going to be in the starting lineup, did you?)
After every game, there is a press conference where you are asked about the game action. Your answers impact what your teammates think of you, your league-wide reputation and how you are perceived by your hometown fans. The answers were tough to interpret, and I came off as a jerk sometimes when I was trying to praise my teammates.
One flaw with this game: My player still looked awkward when he was speaking. His bottom lip didn't seem to move, making him appear frightening when he addressed the media.
As your season progresses, you can earn more playing time and more endorsements depending on your skills and reputation. (Those press conference answers are important.)
Later in your career, you can request trades, negotiate contracts and guide your player to the NBA Hall of Fame. How long that takes depends on how fast your avatar becomes one of the best players in the league.
Thanks to this My Player mode, "NBA2K12" has the depth and versatility to challenge even the best gamer to achieve basketball immortality. This improved feature personalizes pro hoops in a way that will have you cheering your player on -- maybe even to greatness.
Editor's note: "NBA2K12" will be available October 4 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PlayStation 2, PSP and PC. It is rated E for Everyone. This review was done playing the game on the PlayStation3.
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Review: 'NBA2K12' lets you draft your dream player
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