NBA 2K12 will follow last year's extremely popular "Jordan Challenge" by again reaching deep into the game's memory bank, serving up 15 re-creations of the NBA's greatest performances with an all-new cast of legends, and broadcast presentation authentic to their eras.
"NBA's Greatest" will bring ABA/NBA all-time great Julius Erving to a simulation basketball game; the Philadelphia 76ers superstar has long been featured in arcade titles, never on an official roster with his own team in a sim. Dr. J will be joined by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, as well as Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan, who will star on three distinct covers when NBA 2K12 releases Oct. 4.
As for the other 10 players, 2K Sports isn't saying just yet. They want fans to talk about this and debate who deserves inclusion before doling out the full reveal.
"One of the things we're proud of with this franchise is we've transcended the whole video-game thing a bit; we've become more of the conversation and the fabric of the NBA," said Jason Argent, the 2K Sports vice president of marketing. "We want to be involved with the debate and the conversation surrounding the NBA's culture. Specifically, the age-old debate of what would happen if this year's world champion Mavericks played one of the old Jordan Bulls teams. Or if Jordan's Bulls played Kobe and the Lakers. It's a conversation going on in bars and barbershops."
"NBA's Greatest" diverges from "The Jordan Challenge" in that fans must unlock the teams and players for use in the main game's roster by completing the games. The historic teams of "The Jordan Challenge" were available in all modes of NBA 2K11 from the beginning; completing the Challenge unlocked Jordan himself for the game's "My Player" career mode.
Argent wasn't saying exactly what games would be re-created. Five screenshots unveiled show Erving in action against the Celtics (also Kareem against the Bulls, Jordan against the Lakers, and Magic and Bird against each other), and don't really tip off what might be coming. Dr. J's iconic baseline reverse layup came against the Lakers in the 1980 NBA Finals; with Magic and Kareem signed on, that game conceivably could be featured.
Also, "The Jordan Challenge" last year added period-authentic touches on the players, from hi-top fades to nuthugger shorts, but delivered the game with the standard, modern 2K Sports broadcast package. This time, Argent said, players can expect a retro look and feel for the classic games.
"Just like all of the fun stuff people reacted to last year, we'll have the short shorts and the 'fros," Argent said, "and each one will be broadcast as it appeared in that era, whether that's a technicolor look in the 1980s or black-and-white in the 1960s." Additional touches, such as wipes, graphics and replays, will feel authentic to the times.
But Argent wasn't budging when asked for more details about the players and games; they want to let this percolate before giving that up.
Also, many fans suggested that the historic recreations brought up in "The Jordan Challenge" would be perfect as a downloadable content series. Asked directly about DLC plans, Argent said only, "More to come on that."
Argent was similarly coy last year when asked about DLC for NBA 2K11, and nothing ever came of it. This year, however, NBA 2K12 is offering pre-order bonus teams, so there are at least two extra squads floating out there who are not on the disc at launch.