Another big improvement has been made to the My Player mode, which has been overhauled to make it much more accessible than in previous years. In earlier games, after you created your character, you would have to take part in dull development league games until you were called up to the big leagues. While it may have been a realistic way to achieve success for borderline NBA talents, it was incredibly boring. Now, you play in one exhibition game before you're drafted and then you get to show off your stuff against the best players in the world. Although progression is quicker, it's just as rewarding as before because your goal is ultimately to get your bust displayed in the Hall of Fame. You just get to skip to the fun parts much earlier. Plus, an interview process has been incorporated that helps to develop a stronger connection to your character. Teams drill you before the draft and reporters toss softballs at you after games, and what you say determines how others view you. This may still feel like a small step rather than a giant leap--because you have only a small amount of control in these matters--but it does a good job of keeping you invested for your entire career. Climbing the mountain toward immorality in My Player takes a lot of work, but it's empowering to watch your player grow from an ordinary scrub to a perennial all-star.
The off-the-court aspects of NBA 2K12 are impressive across the board, and this high quality comes across in the action as well. There aren't many changes from last year's game, but there's little reason to drastically tinker when the results were already so good. Finer control over your character's movements gives you even more versatility on the offensive end, and there's a handy training camp to take you through the paces. There's a smooth flow that replicates the real thing in exacting detail, and the artificial intelligence is smart enough to shut down your offense if you get too predictable. You need to run plays, move the ball smartly, and shoot when an opening presents itself or you'll find yourself down by double digits before you can say Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. Hard-nosed AI is a good thing, but NBA 2K12 sometimes crosses over into cheap territory. Opponents might know what you're doing even when their back is turned or intercept a clean pass, and rare as these occurrences may be, they are maddening in a close contest. They don't smother the fun, but in a game that is usually so realistic, these blemishes stand out.
Drexler wasn't even the best Clyde in NBA history.
NBA 2K12 isn't hugely different from last year's version, but enough additions have been included to make it exciting for fans hungering for some hardwood hoops. More vintage players, small gameplay tweaks, and the same great presentation you expect make this the best NBA game around. Plus, Association mode can now be played offline and online, which gives you even more freedom in designing your dynasty. Like Michael Jordan during his playing days, if NBA 2K12 had simply rested on its laurels, it would still be the best out there. But the truly great know the offseason is the time to make enough improvements that further distance them from the competition.