NBA 2K11 Reviews

407,325 (225,239)
TA Score for this game: 2,769
Posted on 18 October 10 at 02:18, Edited on 10 December 10 at 08:28
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NBA 2K11 is the latest in the line of NBA games created by 2K - games which have now overtaken the temporarily defunct NBA Live/NBA Elite offerings from EA Sports.

And as a statement of that superiority, 2K11 could not be more emphatic. Quite simply, while not perfect, 2K11 may be the best basketball game/simulation committed to console disc.

The game

It’s tough to know where to start when looking at the game - and in a bid to keep this review short I may leave out or overlook bits (please feel free to highlight your personal favourite parts of this game in any comments below!)

Offline Modes

As with any 2K sports NBA game, there is never a shortage of game modes to try out. You can quickly pick up and play a game featuring any two NBA franchises, or progress more deeply through the Association mode in a bid to win the NBA Championship.

The My Player mode is a great addition which allows you to create a player and guide him through draft camp, the NBA draft, summer league, pre-season, etc, and into the NBA itself.

This mode can be quite a challenge, and while it can be tough, it can be a hugely rewarding, immersing and enjoyable experience if and when your player is drafted into the NBA. One thing about this mode though - the gradings are straight out of a drill sergeant’s notebook - they are very tough on mistakes, but not so rewarding of good play.

This adds to the challenge but can also be annoying when you are deducted marks for things you have very little bearing on - for example, your direct opponent scoring while you and an AI teammate have switched assignments, or having wide-open jump shots classed as "bad shots" with marks duly deducted.

Other offline modes under the "Blacktop" heading remain - 3 point and dunk comps, games of 21, etc.

Jordan Challenges

But if there is one mode of play everyone is talking about, it is the Jordan Challenges. MJ himself graces the cover of 2K11 and, simply put, the Jordan Challenges are some of the most lovingly produced and created basketball moments ever seen.

In the challenges, you take control of MJ during 10 of his most outstanding, memorable and best games. From the 63-point onslaught in Boston Garden against the vaunted Celtics, to the famous "flu game" against the Jazz and "the double nickel" when he dropped 55 on the Knicks after his first comeback to the Bulls, the greatest games are there for you to enjoy.

But there is more than enjoyment at stake, as in each challenge you are given a set of conditions to gain a pass mark. In the Boston game you are tasked with scoring 63+ points, shooting 50%+ from the field and handing out 6+ assists - bettering Jordan's real life efforts.

From the uncanny likeness of Jordan to the crafting of his famous (and not so famous) Bulls' teammates, this mode is the highlight. Perhaps just as satisfying is revisiting the Golden Era of the modern NBA through playing against vintage rosters like those of the Celtics, Pistons, Lakers, Knicks, Jazz, etc - including players like Bird and McHale, Isaiah, Magic and Worthy, Ewing, Stockton and Malone, Kemp, Drexler, Nique etc.

This mode is purely dazzling.

Online modes

Online offers a good variety of modes, including ranked and unranked matches, team up games, crew games (where you can take the player you've created online) and NBA today matches which allow you to take control of your favourite team and play opposition line-ups on the same day these games are scheduled in real life.

The online side of things is, as you would expect, very busy right now. Performance wise the servers haven't been too bad, but don't be surprised if you do cop a crashed game or two. And ,as always (unfortunately) the bad sports and quitters that proliferate any online sports game mode are always present in the 2K lobbies.

Personally I play more team up games myself to avoid them!

EDIT 10/12/2010 - As indicated in comments, I want to add an addendum to my comments on the online mode.

Unfortunately, the patch released last month which was meant to fix connectivity issues and other glitches (both on and offline) has not improved the online playing experience very much.

Games are hard to connect to, leg is evident and there are times where you can sit in a lobby for ages waiting for a pick-up, team-up or crew game.

Ranked mode is usually OK, but even that has some glitches. My advice would be to keep an eye on things and hope that 2K puts out another patch.


The gameplay is well-known to anyone familiar with NBA 2K in the past. I would suggest that it is smoother and even a little more intuitive than in the past.

It is also a bit tougher. The AI player behaviour is, sometimes, frighteningly on the ball. Loose passes will be picked off and bad defence will be exploited. The AI's improved ability to recognise and then exploit mismatches is frightening - if your guard is caught on a switch down low defending the opposition power forward, expect the AI to identify it and exploit it (as any team would do in real life).

Of course, the dozens of sliders that control all facets of gameplay can be tweaked to customise the game to your liking.


Wow. Mindblowing. From the drops of perspiration on MJ's head to the many and varied tattoos adorning players' bodies, 2K have hit the mark.

Most striking are the differing models for Phil Jackson - as coach of the vintage Bulls and as current day Lakers' coach. Very different and very true to life.

Of the players - possibly the only one I've noticed that looks a bit odd is Kobe Bryant. But I'm really clutching at straws.

In all, this is a strikingly good looking game.


This game is no walk in the park when it comes to achievements. The TA ratio is 5+ to 1 GS right now, and that will only increase in the short term as people start unlocking the Big Enchilada achievement for grabbing the games other achievements.

The mix of achievements across all gameplay modes is impressive. Some can be easily achieved by tweaking sliders, while others - online games, Jordan Challenges, My Player achievements - are tough no matter what you might do.

After having 3-4 glitched achievements, 2K's patch released in November has fixed these issues.


There are few games I'd not hesitate giving 5 stars to. The original Bioshock, Batman AA perhaps, Red Dead Redemption perhaps.

But of all the sports games I've played, NBA 2K11 is undoubtedly the best - better than the often revered NHL and Madden franchises from EA (and NHL games are almost always brilliant).

I give this one 5 stars and a "must buy" status if you are a basketball fan. Even if you aren't, it is worth a look simply to enjoy some of the most sparkling sports gameplay of recent times ... and for the faithful reproductions of MJ, the Bulls and some vintage NBA players and teams.

Well done 2K Sports.
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