Review: NBA 2K12

Review: NBA 2K12

NBA 2K12 Screenshot

By: Mike Valenti
Host, Valenti & Foster97.1FM The Ticket

Writing a review for NBA 2K12 is impossible. I mean that.

The reason is simple: the game is perfect.

Never before has a game so perfectly and completely captured the action we see between the lines of play for ANY sport. What 2K Sports has managed to do is not only raise the bar but clearly put it out of reach for future efforts from the competition.


The core of any sports game is the representation and control of the players on the screen in relation to the buttons that I am pushing, and this ’12 nails it. It may sound easy to make “players play like themselves”, but if you’ve played any other professional sports games you know it’s been a herculean task over the years. NBA 2k12 finds a way to have players accurately execute to their ratings and personalities like nothing I’ve ever seen before.

NBA 2K12 Screenshot

Zach Randolph will drill baseline jumpers and unorthodox post leaners.

Monta Ellis will shoot anywhere at anytime, checked or not.

Players like Wade will use any opening to penetrate and destroy.

In simple terms the AI is a joy to play against because I know what I am seeing is realistic. It makes playing worth my time.

NBA 2K12 Screenshot

The game’s engine has also been tuned to now almost rid itself of “force-fields” and unnatural movements. Everything feels smooth and organic. Factor in off ball animations like hand motions and calling for the ball and I can sometimes feel like this is the real thing.

I could write a 10-page term paper on the gameplay alone, but that would be a waste. It’s great. It’s better than great. It’s simply the most realistic playing game ever made in the sports genre.


2K has always led the way in this area dating all the way back to their NFL 2K5 effort. 2K12 produces a TV-quality presentation where dynamic elements are everywhere.

From pregame cut scenes and graphics all the way down to in-game stories and live commentary, the game nails that “TV experience” I’ve always craved. Stat overlays, dynamic real time commentary based on what is happening now — it’s all there.

The sounds are simply fantastic. Crowds are again dynamic both in attendance and in interaction. Take a big 3-pointer late in a game and it sounds totally different than a meaningless early game heave. Incredible.

Presentation as a whole needs to be experienced to truly understand what you’re working with here. The completely comprehensive and damn near flawless execution of the dynamic concept make this area of the game a treat.


Whether it be 2KShare or all the way through the Franchise mode, features are the real story. There are configuration options everywhere and 2K executes them at a very high level.

The bread and butter for most is Franchise mode and it’s as deep as ever. The 2KShare ability allows us to download and share everything from Rookie rosters (thanks, NBA lockout!) to game-tuning sliders. These features combined with excellent programming allow us to create a truly realistic season format. It echoes the passion that stat-crunching fans have for the sport.

CPU trade AI has been improved, although it’s still not perfect. Then again as long as David Kahn is a GM in the league any trade can be rationalized. NBA lottery AND Draft production make even the dullest button push fun.

Overall the Franchise mode should keep us NBA fans playing for MONTHS without blinking an eyelash or asking for patchwork. The addition of classic matchups and even superstars from the past — Bird, Johnson, and the return of Michael, to name a few — in the new NBA Greatest mode allow the experience to spill out from beyond just a deep Franchise mode into something that excels at even casual gameplay sessions.


NBA 2K12 takes everything I’ve clamored for in a sports game and delivers it in a sterling package that is competitive straight out of the box. With minimal tweaks this could become the greatest sports game ever made. I give this game my highest recommendation, and it will likely be the only sports game I’ll consider playing for the next 12 months.

This review is based on a copy of the game sent to SideQuesting by the publisher. The franchise mode was deeply played, as well as online matches and sessions of the NBA’s Greatest.