Hey all! Several weeks after launch, everyone is still talking about the NBA’s Greatest Mode where we ask fans to play and debate the greatest NBA teams of all time. Some remarkable reviews have been pouring in, including a 9.5 out of 10 score from one IGN critic who said that NBA 2K12 “takes everything I love about last year and makes it better. Then it takes nearly all the parts I didn’t like and turns them awesome. Hey, other sports games, you just got schooled. Again.” For those of you who don’t have a copy of NBA 2K12, this is the perfect time to get in and take advantage of the all new DLC – Legends Showcase.
All the conversation about the greatest team of all time made us wonder about matching up the greatest players of all time, even taking that wonderfully fun My Player mode (which, as you can see from my stats, I can’t get enough of) and facing off against the likes of our NBA 2K12 cover athletes Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird along with current greats like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Kevin Durant, and more. Wanting to give you guys more info, I got together with Producer Ben Bishop to discuss and asked him what we can look forward to in Legends Showcase.
Ben Bishop here, one of the producers for NBA 2K12. I’m going to get into some of the details regarding our latest addition to the game, the Legends Showcase DLC. This is a project we’ve been pretty excited about for quite some time. We felt like with all the great things we were doing with Legend players in NBA’s Greatest mode, there was still room for more. We really liked the idea of the NBA’s Greatest teams helping to end the debate about the greatest team of all-time. But that left open a pretty big follow-up question: who is the greatest player of all-time? And with that, the Legends Showcase was born.
As I’m sure many of you have already heard, there are over 150 Legends to choose from in the DLC. Obviously you’ve got the best of the best available, with players like our three NBA 2K12 cover athletes: Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird. And along with them come all of the biggest names that were a part of our NBA’s Greatest feature.
We also felt it was important to include as many of the other all-time greats as we could that weren’t a part of NBA’s Greatest for whatever reason, so that means players like George Mikan, Rick Barry, Elvin Hayes, and Alex English are a part of this experience too. Further, we wanted the Legends Showcase to include, not just Legends in the standard sense, but also players that were simply memorable or would be fun to play with. That means you’ll also see guys like Shawn Bradley, Dan Majerle, Craig Hodges, Gheorghe Muresan, and Kenny Walker there for you to do your best with (or against). While we couldn’t get every single player from NBA history that we would have liked, the available pool is quite extensive and offers a wide range of play styles and personalities that give Legends Showcase a lasting appeal simply due to the sheer amount of match-up possibilities. Oh, and as an extra nice touch, all of these players have the uniforms that go along with the team they were a part of in the peak year we assigned for them (you can see the full roster here). So you’ll see a ton of new uniforms (both home and away) in Legends Showcase, which was one of the bigger undertakings for our art team once development on the main game finished up.
Before talking specifically about each of the available modes, I wanted to single out some additional visual and presentation aspects that are a big part of the Legends Showcase. First, as you’ve probably seen, all the games are played on a fantasy court in New York City’s iconic Times Square. Since we are already stretching the boundaries of reality a bit by bringing together all of these Legends in their primes, we thought it was appropriate to give them a unique and exciting environment to compete in. Second, we created a special cel-shaded effect that gets applied to everything (from the environment, to the crowd, to the players themselves) to really help set the experience apart from anything else we’ve ever done. Presentation has always been a strength in our games, so we made sure to extend as much of that to the DLC as we could. Legends Showcase has completely new overlays, wipes, and replays, all designed to fit in with the cell-shaded Times Square atmosphere. There’s an emcee calling out the action as it happens, introducing players, pumping up the crowd, highlighting key plays, and even getting as specific as talking about the various unique shots in H-O-R-S-E. All in all, we took significant steps to make sure that the Legends Showcase had its own special visual and presentation package that not only fit in with the impetus behind the mode, but that also achieved the same level of quality people are used to seeing in the NBA 2K series.
And now for the available gameplay modes. We’ll take them in order:
2v2 Teammate Challenge
Find out who the greatest teammate pairing of all-time is. You choose from one of 15 preset duos and try to take out the rest in games to 11. From MJ-Pippen to Bird-McHale to Wilt-West, you can try your luck with some of the best individual players paired up or go with a team like Stockton-Malone that is best known for playing together. Or maybe you have a soft spot for one of the more recent pairs, like Kemp-Payton, LJ-Zo, or Hardaway-Mullin, all of whom are tons of fun to play with. And let’s not forget my personal favorite team of Shaq-Penny. With all the different styles of play and interesting strengths and weaknesses of the teammate pairs, there are so many ways you can challenge yourself when approaching this mode. And as an added bonus, once you’ve beaten the 2v2 Teammate Challenge, all of the players in the NBA’s Greatest mode become unlocked for use in NBA: Creating a Legend mode. Much like you were able to bring MJ into today’s NBA in NBA 2K11, you can now see how Bill Russell or Oscar Robertson would fare in the current game.
3v3 Era Challenge
The 3v3 Era Challenge is structured a lot like the 2v2 Teammate Challenge. Here, however, players are grouped by era, with two teams of three players from each decade of the NBA represented (1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s). Again, you choose from one of these teams and battle it out against the rest to see which era comes out on top. You can go old school with Russell-West-Oscar, well-rounded with Robinson-Pippen-Stockton, or stay a bit more current with Duncan-Dirk-Kobe. Once you’ve made it past each of those teams, you get one final test against the newest generation of NBA stars. Take those last two teams out, and you’ll unlock the ability to use the NBA’s current stars throughout the Legends Showcase.
H-O-R-S-E is one of my personal favorite parts of the DLC. It’s pretty much exactly what you would think – use the Legends players in a game of trick shots to see who can come out on top. What’s most exciting about this mode is that it’s something very different from anything we’ve done before. Not only did we motion capture a wide variety of trick shots (some of which are standard H-O-R-S-E shots and others which are a little more creative), we also allow you to move freely throughout the environment and shoot from pretty much anywhere. If you want to try a desperation heave from over 100 feet away, go for it. And to take it a step further, we even added several specific locations for shots where you are interacting directly with the environment, like on top of the basket stanchion or on top of the stage used intros. We leave it up to you to discover those spots as you’re exploring the environment.
Because of the nature of H-O-R-S-E shots being so different from regular jump shots, we wanted to use a completely new mechanic here that better reflected the difference between an easy shot and an extremely difficult one. First, you decide which shot you want to take and from what part of the environment. Then, determine the shot’s arc (anything from a flat beeline to a steep rainbow). And finally, as your shot is initiated, follow the power meter as it travels along the arc and stop it in the designated sweet spot. The general difficulty of the shot, the distance from the basket, and the players’ abilities all factor in to how fast the power meter is moving, so make sure you’re prepared to react quickly if you decide to do something like a drop kick from the other end of the court. And just like on the playground, you can call a bank shot or a swish (or the vaunted bank/swish combo) to add some additional flair to your shot. Bank shots will be more difficult to make, of course, and you better get your arc and timing just right if you want to hit nothing but net.
Of all the modes in the Legends Showcase DLC, H-O-R-S-E is probably the one where we stretch the limits of simulation basketball the most to have a little fun. While all of the shots you can take are generally physically possible, you’ll see them go in more than you would in real life. But hey, these are Legends after all, right? Think of it like the old Jordan vs. Bird McDonalds commercial come to life, only with a Times Square cell-shaded twist and way more competitors to choose from. All in all, it’s an interesting departure from everything else that’s available and more centered around standard basketball and it’s a mode we had a lot of fun putting together.
Game of 21
With all of the Legends available in an outdoor fantasy environment with a street sort of feel to things, we felt like it made a lot of sense to include 21 as one of the available options. With all of the standard rules from needing to hit 21, it’s a fun representation of the classic playground game we all remember playing as kids. And with the opportunity to pit MJ vs. Dr. J vs. Kobe vs. LeBron or whatever insane match-up you can think of, there are all sorts of possibilities. One of my favorite things to do is take a player like Kobe and go up against Russell, Olajuwon, and Mutombo. Just seeing those three guys lined up, knowing you’ll have to beat of them to get to the hole, is pretty intimidating.
Pick-Up Game is pretty much what it sounds like. This is the mode where you have the most freedom to create whatever match-ups you want with plenty of customizable rules option to select from. You can play from 1-on-1 up to 5-on-5 with the ability to choose what you want for things like Difficulty, Game Style (Casual or Simulation), Winning Score (5-50), Clear Ball (On or Off), Win By 2 (On or Off), and Winners Outs (On or Off). This is the best place to really determine who is the best player of all-time. Once you’ve unlocked the current NBA players, you can do things like pit Kobe vs. Jordan, Howard vs. Wilt, or Oscar vs. LeBron. One of the other things I like to do here is play all-time franchise teams against each other. For example, you can run out a Lakers Five of Magic-Kobe-Worthy-Gasol-Kareem against a Bulls 5 of Rose-MJ-Pippen-Rodman-Gilmore. And if you really want to mix things up, try a trio of Shawn Bradley-Gheorghe Muresan-Mark Eaton against Muggsy Bogues-Spud Webb-Nate Robinson and see what happens.
It’s also important to note that, while the Legends Showcase takes place in more of a street environment in Times Square, it’s still a simulation at heart. While we captured some fancier passes, dribble moves, and dunks to make the Legends stand out and differentiate the gameplay, it’s all still grounded in reality. Think of it as a sort of a street simulation. We even made sure to spend a significant amount of time honing the AI for this type of game. We want 1v1, 2v2, and 3v3 games to feel special not just because of the Legends involved, but also because the game is being played the way you’d expect it to be.
And finally, don’t forget that with the Legends Showcase, you will open up a new option in the Online portion of the main game called Classic Quick Match. This gives you a chance to play online with all of the NBA’s Greatest teams in a standard simulation setting. This is completely outside of the Times Square, cell-shaded DLC environment and with only these all-time teams to choose from, it will hopefully help maintain an even playing field. Additionally, you’ll also now have full roster control over all those NBA’s Greatest teams, so if you want to bring them into Association mode, or edit, trade, and release players, you can do all that too.
With the debate about the greatest team of all-time hopefully being settled with NBA’s Greatest, one of the coolest elements about the Legends Showcase DLC is that it gives you the opportunity to answer a few more of those burning questions. Who is the greatest individual player of all-time? Who is the greatest teammate duo of all-time? Which era is the best of all-time? Who is the greatest trick shot artist of all-time? To put it simply, our main goal with Legends Showcase was to create an entirely new experience centered on the Legends. We feel like there’s a ton of content here that can be appreciated, whether you’re a hardcore basketball historian or just a casual fan.
Before I finish this up, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention one other key piece of the Legends Showcase: Where do YOU fit in against the greatest NBA players of all-time? That’s right, you can import your My Player (as Ronnie2K has done here) and see if you can compete with the best of the best. Want to find out if you can take MJ 1-on-1? How about teaming up with Bird and McHale to see if you can take out an Isiah Thomas-Joe Dumars-Bill Laimbeer or Magic Johnson-James Worthy-Kareem Abdul-Jabbar trio? Or what about trying your hand against Pete Maravich in H-O-R-S-E? Any match-up you can think of with almost all of the significant players in NBA history is right there at your fingertips.
I could keep going on about some of my other favorite things to try (Shaq vs. Mikan, Thompson vs. Gervin, Wilt vs. Russell, Chris Paul vs. Isiah, to name a few more – sorry, I couldn’t resist), but it’s probably about time I wrapped this up and left the rest of the fantasy scenarios to everyone else. Keep an eye out for the Legends Showcase on the PSN Store this week – it’ll be available on 11/29. — Ben Bishop
That’s a ton of content to look forward to, and for just $10 on the PlayStation Store this Tuesday! I want to thank Ben for his in-depth description of Legends Showcase and the people at PlayStation for giving me this time to tell you more about NBA 2K12’s hottest DLC. Let me remind you to follow us on Facebook to see the most new and exclusive info for the NBA 2K Franchise.
If you missed my last submission on the PlayStation.Blog where I discussed the all-new feature “On the Move” along with a background on all the great features 2K12 has to offer, you can catch it here. If you ever have feedback on a feature, don’t hesitate to hit me up Twitter and make sure to follow us on Facebook if you are a fan of the franchise.