NBA 2k11 – A Look Back At (Review)

NBA 2k11 is widely regarded as one of, if not THE best NBA 2k games ever made. But that seems to beg the question why, and how, has it stood the test of time when others have just been kind of forgettable. 

Now lets be honest here, one of the main reasons a lot of people enjoyed this game is because it’s centred around the GOAT, Michael Jordan. I know Lebron fans will disagree with me but when Lebron has 6 rings, then we can talk. From the very beginning of the game, you understand that the entirety of 2k11 is all about MJ. When you put your disk in, firstly you get a lovely tribute to MJ, which I love to watch almost every time I play, secondly you don’t just jump right into the game. You start by viewing MJ in the tunnel, running into the arena in Chicago, about to take on the Lakers. This opening was an awesome idea, straight off the bat, it gave you a sense of what it was like to play as the bulls in their hay day. 

Now I’m not sure how a lot of people felt about the gameplay, but honestly I thought it was one of the most well rounded control schemes of an NBA 2k game of it’s generation. You could in fact tie up a player when playing on D and force them to pick the ball up, not like today where you have players blowing past you even when you tie them up, plus you could actually work to get space for an open shot, by yourself, or by coming off a screen. You could even slightly move forward to force them to jump back and take a wide open jumper (even if it was a bit broken and worked almost all the time). In saying this though, it was sometimes difficult to stay on your man defensively, and don’t get me started on the turn around dunk that worked almost all the time due to its animation. These things, although a bit broken, also helped balance the gameplay, it was simple but effective. Whenever you jumped in, you always felt that no matter how good or bad you were – there was ALWAYS a chance of victory.  

The graphics were possibly the best of that generation’s NBA 2k games, even better than that of 2k12 and 13. However, if you look back now it seems dated, duh! but for the time it was actually fantastic. I honestly believe this is part of the reason why I can return to it today, and still enjoy it just as much as I did back then. Now sure, there are some definite exceptions, however, I dare you to find a better looking MJ for that gen…… I’ll wait……. You can’t, can you?  

One of the coolest, fun and occasionally difficult parts of the game is the Jordan challenge. You get to go through 10 of MJ’s best games ever witnessed, where you play as the Bulls and try to replicate what Jordan did in those matches. There’s a certain amount of goals that you have to complete in order to be successful. Some we’re achievable and others a little less so. This is honestly one of the best features in any NBA 2k game ever made for no other reason than that you got to partake in some of the greatest games in history, whilst playing as the greatest basketballer – of all time. You got the feeling of living through these historic matches even if you didn’t. I personally would love to see them make a 2k game centred on Kobe and do the exact same thing. Completing all these challenges then led the way for arguably, my most favourite feature….. Creating A Legend. 

Once you completed the Jordan challenge it unlocked another mode called Creating A Legend. This was by far my favourite part of 2k11 because you played in the style of mycareer, but took a rookie MJ and put him into any team you wanted to try and create your own MJ Dynasty. You could choose a lower-table team like the Raptors and prove you could win the finals by yourself, something that LeBron has never done. Or you could finally see what it would look like to pair up MJ with Lebron, and watch how every team crumbles before you. All in all, this feature was simply amazing, purely because it gave everyone the feeling of what it was, to be like Mike. 

Now mycareer has been one of the main focuses in NBA 2k in general. However in my opinion, although the graphics seem to improve, mycareer has become nothing but a pay to win feature. So much so that if you don’t, you’ll find yourself grinding through games and training for hours, trying to level your player up, and even then it won’t mean a damn thing. Badges and Virtual Currency is what it is all about these days…

Badges have been ok in general, but things like Free Throws and how quick your release is, should never be a badge, full stop. It’s almost borderline ridiculous now. VC or Virtual Currency, has definitely been something, in my opinion, that has made the game worse. It’s cool that you can earn VC for one player and then spend it on an entirely different player, but it has ultimately just led to the modern-day, pay-to-win scenario. So when I say that mycareer for 2k11 is one of the best, I truly mean it. It goes back to giving you attributes that you level up and nothing else. You have to decide and be hyper-critical about where to put your Skill Points. And the most important thing is, when you focus on levelling up a skill, the contrast is super apparent. When your 3pt ability is at 70, you’ll hit shots with relative consistency. In the most recent NBA 2k games, you could have your ability at 75 or 80, but if you didn’t have the correct badge, now you can’t hit shots? It makes no sense. It’s like they are trying to limit your control of what you can do with your character. 2k11 does not do that. It’s just simple and straightforward and that is 100 times better than what we have today. 

Now I never really spent much time on this feature, however i do think it was done incredibly well. Firstly, from all the classic teams/players that you could choose to play as, and the amount of celebrities, I mean – look at them!!! 

This was the mode to check out if you wanted to smash your buddy in 3pt, dunk, or even 1v1 contests. 

Gotta give a shout out to the amount of classic teams they had in this game, it was awesome, you could play as almost every classic team. From 85″- 86″ celtics to 97″- 98″ Jazz

The amount you could customise your player was impressive, and not having to pay VC to get a 

certain jumpshot animation just makes me look back with appreciation- you could just choose. 

The first thing I noticed when it came to the music, was that it never felt like you were listening to the same song over and over again. The best part was that you could sit there, listen to and enjoy almost every single song, no matter your stylistic preference. I found myself loving the music of this game. Plus when you’re at the start of your mycareer and you play a few matches, the tunes will be pumpin’ while you’re in-game… These were some of the most memorable moments of 2k11 for me, and you never got sick of a song, even when you’ve heard it for the thousandth time. That in my book, is impressive. 

Honestly to sum up the reason why this game was and is one of the greatest NBA 2k games of all time, and why it has such a special place in our hearts is because,…… It’s simple… and it does it well. It has everything you want from an NBA 2k game, without going over the top. Additionally, it still built upon the previous title’s foundation. I believe that when you look at all the extra stuff NBA 2k is coming out with today, some are cool adages and some have no reason to be in an NBA 2k game. It has become more about trivialities, other than basketball. So when you go back to NBA 2k11, where it’s all about the basketball, you see that lovely simplicity, you can see the disparity between them, and THAT’S why I for one think this entry is the best NBA 2k game ever made……… 

Plus it’s all about the GOAT, so it’s fitting that the greatest NBA 2k game of all time, is about the greatest player of all time………… Don’t you think?

Review by Dillon Vander Putten

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