We’re two months and change into NBA Lockout limbo and it’s not looking good. The suits can’t see eye to eye with the jerseys and their reps despite giving some hopefuls an obvious up fake. Meanwhile, fans can’t do much but bide their time until things finally get right. At least video games offer some solace as the NBA 2K series keeps rolling along rain or shine. I, as you may or may not know, am all for sports games getting off the yearly dev cycle. There’s only so much you can improve or change in less than 365 days and the lockout provided a unique opportunity to fine tune NBA 2K11′s faults. Yet 2K11 became a huge success for 2K Sports and it’d be financially brainless on their part to let the steam subside. Let’s not forget 2K wouldn’t want to get caught with a half done game, thinking they have plenty of time to perfect things, when play abruptly resumes.
There’s no telling if NBA 2K12 will pick up on blown shots seen throughout the NBA 2K franchise. Plus the demo’s out now for PS3 and Xbox 360 and the build probably won’t change much until its October 4 street date. I’d still like to see 2K Sports make a concerted effort towards fixing the following issues seen in 2K11. I won’t hold my breath and expect them to make all these changes. Nevertheless, I’d be happy if they remedied the majority of 2K11′s faults starting with…
1. Fix The Damn Online Play — Why the heck can’t 2K provide solid servers year round? Online play has really gone down the gutter since NBA 2K9. I thought 2K11 broke the trend since games held up pretty well soon after launch. Then the holiday season came around, lag and disconnects reared their ugly heads again, and the game hasn’t been the same since. Such poor performance is really inexcusable in this day and age where other, more complicated online games can run with far fewer issues. This year I’d rather spend more time playing smooth, lag free ball than staring at a “Waiting for Opponent” prompt over and over.
2. Tweak The Passing Game — Heads didn’t take to kindly to NBA 2K11′s strict passing rules. I actually didn’t have much trouble dishing the rock. I just took better care of the ball and didn’t try to force it into precarious situations In fact, I liked some of the changes like the drastic cut on cherry picking stemmed by any big man sending full court outlet passes. However sometimes I’d see opponents intercept passes when, a moment earlier, they weren’t looking at the ball. 2K could bear to make the AI a little less perfect in that regard and discourage jump passing even more. The ability to choose between lob/chest, and bounce passes would be great, too.
3. Make A Better Shot Meter — NBA 2K11 introduced a shot meter which helped get releases down. Unfortunately the meter only had three extremes: good release, early release or late release. Gauging just how early or late you were in shooting proved tough with unique J’s from dead eye shooters like Kevin Martin or Ray Allen. A more sensitive, color coded meter would work wonders. Let’s say you were slightly early in your launch. How about display the info as a yellow early release instead of all out red? It’d make more sense in determining when to let go and improve your perimeter game much quicker.
4. Stop The Spin Move Dunk And Hop Step Cheese — Spin move dunks ought to be a rare occurrence. However, by NBA 2K11′s estimation, you exploit it to your heart’s content if you have enough space. It’s stoppable but it takes more work to counter than it does to execute: rendering the move a huge oversight by 2K’s team and a bitch move to boot.
I don’t have a problem with scorers like Carmelo Anthony and KD using hop steps or backing. They utilize each move regularly. What gets me is when the likes of Carlos Boozer and Al Jefferson get away with it. They’ll cough up the ball from time to time but those turnovers should happen frequently. Such maneuvers simply aren’t in their repertoire. Not to mention they should simulate extra steps for such players since they don’t have the footwork to consistently hop step with confidence.
5. Revamp “My Player” Mode — Previous versions of My Player took an obscenely long time to rank up from the high 30′s and low 40′s. Why even set the starting bar so low anyway? Playing at that level proved frustrating and felt like you had no place in even summer league. Thankfully a recent article from the 2K devs highlighted My Player’s total revamp. Now you’ll start off in the 60′s but skills will take a while to develop. The latter part sounds a bit troubling but I guess I’ll see how it fares in due time.
6. Keep Improving The Animations — Basketball’s a pain to simulate due to its randomness. 2K11 handled this aspect of the sport with mixed results since some possessions got capped by scripted events. For instance, you’d box out for a rebound on defense but, since big man X entered his tip in animation opposite from you in a certain way, he’s nearly guaranteed to get a put back dunk no matter what you do. Or, if you face contact on a layup, you could tell more often than not if you’d miss the shot depending on who shot the ball and what animation you saw. Basketball doesn’t play in such a canned way. Contact and play in general ought to look and feel more dynamic like the real deal. Here’s hoping 2K12 gets this aspect down this year.
7. Restructure Team Up Mode — I played a ton of team up in NBA 2K11 with friends and by myself. The mode’s great when everyone plays his or her role properly and has some sense of basketball IQ. It falls apart, though, when you deal with point guards who can’t run the offense or the reluctant power forward who constantly subs in the backup shooting guard. 2K ought to use the same set up in player matches for ranked games. Let your team of five choose the team and positions they want. That way, you don’t have to worry about people quitting because they don’t want to be role players like Tyson Chandler or Derek Fisher. Also, extend the VIP to team up so people can discern who to play with or not. Some people just don’t make for good teammates. Why do they play a team mode then? I don’t know, but I shouldn’t have to find out how bad they are after tip off.
8. Make Fatigue More Pronounced — NBA 2K’s improved their approach on fatigue but it’s not quite “there” for my tastes. Tiredness ought to scale appropriately any match length from five minute quarters to full 48 minute games. Shorter games let many 1-3′s run without taking a break. Sure, some wing players don’t take rests sometimes: albeit rarely. The game ought to force people to delve into their rotation more and learn how to play with their second unit.
9. Let Players Set Up Substitutions Between Quarters — I really have no idea why NBA 2K doesn’t allow players to set up their bench during said breaks. How else are you going to sneak precious minutes of rest before prime time? Getting in key role players has been an awkward game of subbing right before the buzzer for years now. There’s no need for it persist anymore.
10. Stop Letting Cheaters Off The Hook — 2K really needs to do a better job of policing and polishing NBA 2K12. Hackers ruining crew games, as seen in the flick above, to standby kings ruin the game for everyone else. Yet much of the problem stems from 2K letting said clowns roam free without reproach. It starts with making the game more resistant to misconduct. For instance, the game ought to be clear of game-breaking bugs and exploits. However we all know today’s ship it now, patch it later world won’t facilitate such a launch. More importantly, a crack team needs to catch, penalize and ban delinquents depending on their behavior. That’s a tall order but it’s not impossible.
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