Review: NBA 2K12

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NBA 2K12 is a testament, in video game form, to America’s love of professional basketball. Perhaps more than any other sports video game*, 2K Sports’ latest offering shows a respect and love for its source material that most other titles do not match.

And given the labor troubles afflicting the NBA this season, NBA 2K12 may be the only way basketball fans will be able to enjoy the professional game for a long time. That makes it a little harder to decide if NBA 2K12 is a “must buy” for the fan and his or her hard-earned $60.

On the “pro” side, NBA 2K12 offers a quality single-player experience and by featuring a dozens of NBA legends in its “NBA’s Greatest” mode, 2K Sports offers a worthy successor to 2K11′s “Jordan Challenge” feature and thus has probably done more than any other developer to make annual sports titles feel like a worthwhile experience.

On the “con” side, real-life business issues mean consumers may not be able to use this year’s game as a mirror for the real-life NBA for several weeks, if at all.

A die-hard NBA fan who is most interested in the opportunity to play as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird or any of the other all-time greats featured in the game will probably get his or her money’s worth from NBA 2K12. But someone who wants to play online matchups with current NBA rosters will be disappointed. It may not be fair that a real-life labor dispute between NBA players and owners may reduce the game’s value, but that’s life.

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Chainsaw bayonets, the Mojave Desert and basketball

“Gears of War 3″ is today’s biggest new release, and other notables include “Lonesome Road,” the final storyline-based DLC for Fallout: New Vegas and 2K Sports’ demo for NBA 2K12.

By all appearances, Epic Games’ conclusion to its Gears of War saga follows its predecessors tradition of chainsaw-bayonets, cover-based tactics and hulking characters. Some people say Gears of War can be too much on the “dudebro” side of things, and although they have a small point, Epic Games deserves a lot of credit for pioneering the cover -based mechanics that are pretty much standard in any game featuring a third-person perspective.

In my opinion, no one has done it quite as well since. I also got a kick out of the developer’s introduction in the original’s manual, which explained how a game of paintball led to a new approach to gameplay.

Gears of War 3 is an XBox 360 exclusive.

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NBA 2K12 roster to include Magic, Kareem, Bird, Dr. J, Jordan …

Remember how so many basketball fans liked NBA 2K11′s the “Jordan Challenge?”

The game’s developers did. 2K Sports announced today that Jordan and 14 other NBA greats will appear in a new “End the Debate” mode, giving players a chance to electronically settle arguments over which teams and players deserve recognition as the Association’s best of all time.

The full list:

  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar;
  • Larry Bird;
  • Wilt Chamberlain;
  • Julius Erving;
  • Patrick Ewing;
  • Magic Johnson;
  • Michael Jordan;
  • Karl Malone;
  • Hakeem Olajuwon;
  • Scottie Pippen;
  • Oscar Robertson;
  • Bill Russell;
  • John Stockton;
  • Isiah Thomas;
  • Jerry West.

FWIW, I would love to see 2K Sports carry on this idea to MLB 2K and see if they can gain some ground against “The Show.” Who wouldn’t want to relive such great baseball stories as the Brooklyn Dodgers’ first championship in 1955, the 1968 World Series matchup between the Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals or the Boston Red Sox’s comeback in the 2004 ALCS?