|This title is also availale on PS3 and PC|
NBA 2K12 has three different covers highlighting the athletes that define basketball (though most gamers will see the Michael Jordan cover, marking the second year in a row his Airness takes the spot). But it's about a lot more than MJ this year. Last year's Jordan Challenges were the highlight of the game, but 2K12's NBA's Greatest mode trumps it. Michael Jordan is back, and along with him come Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Hakeem Olajuwon, Scottie Pippen, and 10 other basketball greats. They're matched up in games against other basketball legends such as the '93 Hornets, Dikembe Mutombo and Shaq with the Orlando Magic. Every team you play as and against is unlockable, letting you pit the greatest players of the last 40-plus years against the stars of today. Want to see Dwight Howard go head to head against Shaq in his prime? Of course you do because that's awesome.
Each game gets the full presentational treatment. (You're going to hear a lot about presentation in this review, because NBA 2K12's is astounding.) The games are treated like television broadcasts from the era, so Bill Russel's mid-'60s Celtics game is in black and white. The announcers treat the games like playbacks, talking about your performance as if it already happened and sharing trivia about the players.
Last year, two of the biggest complaints were the cheap defensive AI and the alien looking players. NBA 2K12 improves on both counts, but it's not perfect. The defense never lets up and will take advantage on every play if you let them. They still occasionally become psychic (my favorite was Dallas Mavericks center Brendan Haywood executing a perfect backhanded block without ever turning around to see me coming in for the layup), but it's rarer. The fact is that you're given so much more control of your footwork and shots, that it's up to you to get around the defense, because the game won't do it for you anymore. Choosing which hand to shoot the layup from or which way to fake before a jump shot makes or breaks every point in the game, and NBA 2K12 give you full control. It takes a little while to get fully accustomed to, but the amount of control you have is incredible.
Bonus: Here's 2K12's commercial featuring Michael Jordan and Drake !