Video Game Impressions – NBA Elite 11

(Note: The term “Impressions” is used because it constitutes the writers’ opinion on an upcoming video game that will be released within a month. IT IS NOT INTENDED AS A FULL GAME REVIEW, hence certain parts of the game may not be mentioned at all. The reader is advised to take any advice and use it as part of their own research into deciding whether to purchase the game.)

Back in the day I used to review video games and animation and initially this blog was supposed to be a vehicle to get back into that area. Fast forward to the present where I haven’t written a single piece on either in like eons. Funny how things don’t work out the way you want them to… why do I bring this up? Well remember that theme for later.

NBA Elite 11

I was checking out the PSN Store the other day and decided to take a look at the NBA Elite 11 demo, which is EA’s latest offering in the basketball game war vs. 2K Sports’s NBA 2K11. First, some background: NBA Elite 11 basically reworked the franchise from the ground up, even getting rid of the old NBA Live name it used to have. This year the development team decided to go with new control scheme that maps most of your actions (crossovers, layups, etc.) to the left and right analog stick. It’s something that EA has implemented in the Madden Football games and toyed with in previous NBA Live editions, and I’ve heard a lot of talk about how it would be received by basketball fans. Consensus seems to be that the moves feel nice when you pull them off, but the overall scheme is so hard to control.

After downloading the demo I spent about a couple hours going through each tutorial (Dribbling, Shooting, Layup/Dunk, Defense, and Practice), Become Legendary Mode and the Game demo (2nd half of Game 7 Celtics vs. Lakers). The tutorials are pretty good, although I found myself pulling off alot of dribbles that I hadn’t meant to do. The graphics and player models didn’t really seem that good, despite EA devs calling Elite 11 “the next evolution in basketball games”. I also tried to see how real the physics in the Practice Mode where when controlling your player, and the results started raising immediate red flags. It was also hilarious to watch my 5’9/175 lb. PG take off from close to the FT line on a dunk in the middle of a crossover, and further research unveiled this awesome gem.

Putting the “Harlem Shake” aside, I pressed on to Become Legendary Mode. Become Legendary is single-player career mode where you can use a created player and take him from the Jordan Draft Showcase (pre-Draft camp) through an NBA Season to possibly becoming the next Jordan, aka “Legendary”. I will say it was fun to go against John Wall and Derrick Favors, but going by the new controls the game was somewhat of a chore. Even with a decent skill level shooting felt a bit harder than it really should, but I chalked that up out the learning curve. I will say by the 4th quarter I switched off the Elite configuration (new control scheme) and fared a little better. Become Legendary should appeal to everyone as it’s basically your standard “put yourself in a sports game” mode (similar or MLB: The Show series’ Road To The Show).

I then played the Game Mode about 30 minutes, playing the first 3 times as The Boston Celtics and once as the Lakers. I made it a point the use the Elite config, since I’d be playing with real NBA players. I have to say the experience was … a bit weird. First, the graphics/player models just seemed like they could be better. It’s not a major source of contention with me but in comparison to NBA 2K11 you can’t take a step backward in that department. The AI offensive gameplan seemed a bit random, giving Derek Fisher and Ron Artest as many touches as Kobe Bryant. This was also the case with playing vs. the Celts, as apparently Rondo taking jumpers was as good an option as Ray Allen/Paul Pierce. In the game the realism seemed to play out ok as Rondo had his dribbles and jukes, Ray Allen was deadly when distant, and KG worked inside with his array of turnaround jumpers and layups. However, a few times I saw a player do this (props to TheRealCaCHooKaMan for the cap).

Now I’m not a hater on KG (though he IS a little bit of a bitch); but that dude couldn’t dunk from just inside the FT line in the year 2000, much less in 2011. For a game that boasts new improved physics that just amazed me. If they have gimpy KG doing that, who else? Carlos Boozer? Amar’e Stoudemire? Hell Kobe Bryant should be taking off from the 3 point line (I actually did try several times)! However, that wasn’t the game’s most egregious flaw. Again props go to Hard8times for finding this massive flaw. I’d watch the whole thing for maximum LOLZ, but otherwise just skip to 2:24 in the vid:

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… I have seen some glitches in my life, but that’s horrible. It’s possible to actually get a player stuck at halfcourt, apparently trying to part the Red Sea or something. This is worse that the abysmal MLB 2K9 with its A-Rod Quicksand and Barrell Roll glitch. And EA intends to release this October 5th? Seriously, what the hell?

In conclusion, I have seen many games promise radical new innovations and they actually turn out well. Remember when I mentioned in the beginning about things not always working out the way you want them to? Well I’m looking straight at you EA. From the graphics, control scheme, physics… it’s a disaster. At least the controls can be switched back, too bad the game itself can’t be. This is a classic case of the company looking to make sweeping changes and making everything worse than before. It’s sad because between the soundtrack and announcers the presentation is decent, although after awhile Mark Jackson will make you hit the “Mute” button. I feel worse for Elite 11 coverman Kevin Durant, whose name is affiliated with this dreck. People, stay away from this game and if you must buy a basketball game get NBA 2K11 or try and get NBA Jam w/o getting NBA Elite 11. I repeat: unless something changes in the next ten days DO NOT BUY THIS GAME.

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About The Frankman
Former Gaming/Animation Reviewer and writer of all things involving MLB/NBA/NFL. Now I occasionally write about the happenings of each area and about my life.

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