NBA Elite 11 First Hands-On

Is EA's NBA series in for an NHL-like rebirth? We've got the first hands-on, a few answers, and more questions.

by

[UPDATE: Check out the new video demo of NBA Elite with EA Sports' Connor Dougan below.]

Earlier in the year, Golden State Warriors star point guard Stephen Curry had a chance to visit EA Canada's Vancouver HQ to try out the company's new basketball game. According to developers, Curry--who'll readily admit he is a big video game guy--got his hands on the new controls that are the underpinning of the NBA Live series' transformation and rebirth as NBA Elite 11. Right away, Curry began making shots from all over the floor, despite not having had much time with the game. When asked about his in-game success by developers, Curry--who ended up third overall last year in scoring for the Warriors--simply replied, "Shooters shoot, man."

Yes, indeed, shooters shoot. And if the Curry anecdote, as well as our own hands-on time with NBA Elite 11's revamped control scheme last week at the 2010 Electronic Entertainment Expo, are anything to go by, then player skill is going to determine your success on the floor more so than any previous year in EA's long-running NBA series. Our time with Elite was relatively brief, but we can safely say the game's new controls are the most significant change to EA's hoops series--and perhaps to basketball games--in the past several years.

Beginning with a change at the top of the NBA Live development team, the Elite team has focused on turning around the NBA Live series in much the same way that EA Canada turned around its NHL series several years back. The blueprint, it seems, is to take many of the control ideas that revolutionized the NHL series and port them over to NBA Elite: The left stick controls player movement and the right stick controls the player's hands (and, by extension, the movement of the ball). The result becomes a control scheme that is intuitive… that is, once you wrap your head around it.

We got some hands-on time with Elite, featuring a one-on-one practice game featuring LeBron James and NBA Elite 11 cover star Kevin Durant. Controlling King James, we were able to pull off crossovers simply by moving the right stick left or right. The speed we moved the stick with determined the pace of the crossover. By pulling the right stick back at a diagonal either left or right, LeBron would execute crossovers under his leg left and right. Finally, by making upward half-circle movements with the right stick, we could do behind-the-back crosses left or right.

As in previous years, movement is controlled with the left stick, and you can mix in specialized moves, such as pro hops or Euro steps, by combining the triggers and the left stick when moving. When you couple those moves with the ability to manually change hands at any point, you have the makings for a very flexible offensive system; one where pre-canned unbreakable animations between players seem to be a thing of the past.

Around the back crossovers… with just a flick of the right stick.

Fancy moves might get you closer to the hoop, but you'll still need to get close and get the ball in the basket. The new shooting mechanic takes a nod from NHL's skill stick approach. To shoot, you simply move the right stick forward and let go at the appropriate moment. When you decide to release, of course, depends your player's proximity to the basket, and as a result, you can clank a ball off the rim or put up an air ball if you don't get enough power in your shot--or overcook things with too much power. You can also dunk by running toward the net and pressing up with the right stick (and, yes, you'll be able to change hands in midair for some truly impressive improvisations under the net).

The E3 demo we played featured an onscreen heads-up display that showed our right and left stick movements; it also featured a shot meter that showed us the ideal release time for every shot we took--but that HUD element won't be part of the final game. Instead, you'll need to rely on the feel of the shot to get the power right. And, you'll need to keep in mind that you'll be able to miss right or left of the basket if you aren't straight with your right stick when shooting. But hey, don't worry: Shooters shoot, remember?

The new controls aren't reserved for players on offense, however. You'll be able to attempt a steal by pressing down on the right stick and move your player's right or left hand up or down by pressing left or right on the stick. Producers told us that tweaked animations and improved player AI will mean that a defender's hand will better track the ball, making it easier to break up a pass or block a shot (the latter of which you can execute by pressing up on the right stick).

Beyond the controls, it's the new animation and physics system that really shine on defense. Player contact feels great, especially if an offensive player is backing you down. It looks and feels like a real struggle for control--a struggle that either player can break out of at any time with a quick spin move or a steal attempt. Forget the player lock on defensive controls of years past, too; in NBA Elite 11, defense will be about quick reflexes, keeping your body in between your assigned player and the basket. On defense, you'll be able to pull off quick side-to-side steps to stop a player from making a move to the hoop, but there's an element of risk versus reward here. If you slide in the wrong direction, you might get your ankles broken trying to get back, giving your opponent an open lane to the basket.

So what do all of these new controls mean for NBA Elite 11? From what we've seen, the controls work great in one-on-one play. However, producers only showed us five-on-five play--we didn't get a chance to try it for ourselves. This was certainly intentional; it's easy to get a better handle of the controls in a controlled setting, and we suspect that full-team play simply hasn't been tuned yet to make the most of the new controls.

Mid-air crossovers will be easy and effective… provided your controlled player has the skill to pull them off.

However, in a larger sense, we suspect that because the new controls put a premium on the skill of the players with the controllers in their hands--as well as the skillset of the NBA player they are controlling--the idea of controlling only the NBA's most…ahem…"elite" players (whose attributes make them best suited for pulling off the kinds of moves you'll want to execute in Elite) will become the new standard for this series. After all, why on earth would you want to put the ball in the hands of Luke Walton when you can put your stick skills to their best use with Kobe Bryant?

Will NBA superstars be overpowered in NBA Elite? Will passing--an already rare phenomenon in online hoops games--become a thing of the past? The jury is still out. Nonetheless, the changes in Elite look to be among the most important in the series' history, and we'll be closely following the game's progress in the coming months.

Discussion

135 comments
jaavee
jaavee

nba 2k8 had all of these NEW innovations in it to start with apart from the euro step. this is bull the 2k series destroy ea since i first played 2k8 most natural and fun flowing basketball game, this is just a 2011 copy

j-force01
j-force01

good dribbling controls but looks unrealistic in the way they move.

serbogen
serbogen

"Looks too complicated"???? Yeah, maybe for idiots who just want to press a button and watch pretty animations. I cant believe that EA is actually making a game with CONTROL and DEPTH. This looks very promising. I think I'm about to finally play a b ball game after almost a decade. (NBA live 2000 on pc).

ompongjj
ompongjj

omg..brian's gone come back dude

TrueDesign
TrueDesign

This Game will obviously be a FAIL I question if these guys even play basketball.... huh do you or do you just watch it on TV. Please there will obviously be Zero fun factor with this game. Still stiff as usual and this looks too complicated. I commend them for Re-vamping/ Re-naming it however they should have went in a different direction than this. I fear this is the beginning of the end. Well EA did block out 2K from Football so obviously they would place most of their attention to Basketball... an't Karma a "B"

reeree746
reeree746

This looks really really complicated.

suffering-evil
suffering-evil

EA must have really gotten sick of 2k kicking its ass to totally rename the basketball franchise, but the control scheme is great!!!! This should put some faith in the Live hopefuls again. Last live I played i think was 06 or 07, When they started making you do street fighter motions and combo's to dunk the ball I just had enough, lmao, last Live i owned was 2005!!! 2k4 and 2k5 was when Live started to lose the battle. 2k2 was a hit 2k3 took a step back then they just dominated ea in basketball ever since

kawish1995
kawish1995

NBA 2k8 was amazing. 2k9 and 2k10 were the same thing as 2k8. NBA live has always been a disappointment to me. I just hope there will be a good Basket-ball game this year.

TNEWS80
TNEWS80

i will have to rent this first ea lost me in live 07

TNEWS80
TNEWS80

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

FIFADIDAS
FIFADIDAS

meh nothing to special just yet, ill be impress with controls and good ai on offence and D this is just minor stuff...that vacum defence where player lost the ball automatically was weak and ruined 10 for me

lookin_boy
lookin_boy

damn 2k10 online 1v1 SUCKED idc what anyone says

leozzine
leozzine

Did not like the 2k10 .. it is confusing. Really bad. NBA Elite is like Fifa in a court, with this new control scheme. I think its gonna work just fine, specially to people who knows how to play basketball.( i do)

mad-cow-249
mad-cow-249

I hope this game will have the ability to make LeBron, Wade, and Bosh 0 overall that would be funny

Rasputin2011
Rasputin2011

I have not owned an NBA since PS2.. I have checked out a few demos of the "next-gen" games and have been far from impressed... The NBA live series mechanics have felt Robotic and the 2K sports games are 5 star GARBAGE.. Point is the addition of more indepth controls using the right analog stick has helped "spice up" all EA Sports franchises and I have high hopes for NBA Elite 11

wahyudil
wahyudil

I stop playing NBA live for long time ago ... but I think this is the time to get back to the game ...

AverageGamer99
AverageGamer99

I owned NBA Live 05 and NBA Live 08, and true, NBA Live 05 froze on Dynasty mode a lot. But I had no problems with NBA Live 08 for a year, and then it stopped working. Very, very weird. These new movement controls look very smooth and realistic. Alot better than 08's "Go-To Moves", which were very random, and you could pull them off in any situation, which, obviously, isn't possible in the real NBA.

focus0894
focus0894

@Krol woah you made a few typos there buddy... Lemme fix them for you "NBA LIVE: crap controls crap graphics too much of an arcade feel 2K was always the best year after year and will kill the competition this year once again. idk what you haters are talkin about that this will suck cause this isnt out yet so idk who your speakin for but thats fine. 2K has always been the superior, most realistic and best looking basketball sim and always will be so...." There ya go champ ;D

Krol_23
Krol_23

this game looks so sick cant wait must buy. 2k: crap controls crap graphics too much of an arcade feel nba live was always the best year after year and will kill the competition this year once again. idk what you haters are talkin about that this will suck cause this isnt out yet so idk who your speakin for but thats fine. EA has always been the superior, most realistic and best looking basketball sim and always will be so

baltimoreravens
baltimoreravens

@bjkthe619 Live 2005 sucked, don't know what you talking about. Live started to suck since 2002.

bjkthe619
bjkthe619

here we go again... EA try to hype its weak bball game, wait till it comes out... It gonna suck just like the last few have. last great live game was NBA LIVE 2005. 2k ftw once again this year, although i am geting kinda tired of the 2k series... who knows maybe ea will really surprise us this year we'll see

tallman916
tallman916

Finally full control none of that funny magnet animation!!

Oblivion_540
Oblivion_540

wow looks awesome. Looks like an improved live 2003.

lilflex1
lilflex1

it a be nice if they had celebrities show up in the arena like in real life but i might rent it first.

lilflex1
lilflex1

basically all of the nba live games i owned skipped or froze i had 95 for genesis up to live 10 and dynasty always freezes they really never fix stuff just add little by little you can thumb me down but with a person that bought all of them tells you they keep freezing up then you know somethings wrong. my other comment like this was erased because i was telling the truth and they didnt want sells to go down

feyi98
feyi98

The movement looks pretty cool, but besides that it looks like 2K already did that

AsianPet
AsianPet

This new concept looks interesting but it also looks complicated...First impressions are good so I'll see what type of reviews this game receives before I purchase it.

peterruskov
peterruskov

OK , there must be some locking system when you play defence. If everything is player controllable there is going to look unrealistic.

TT_audi_34
TT_audi_34

The good thing about ea basketball is that when they create a crap game, they can come back next year with a whole new gameplay system which makes it feel fun and new. With 2k sorry to say but it's the same gameplay every year. I went over to my friend's house yesterday to play nba 2k6, 2k7, 2k8, 2k9, and 2k10 and they were all the same in gameplay. When you look at how slick the graphics for 2k is, everyone starts think that 2k is way better than live/elite. However when you look at live/elite graphica yeah they aren't as slick as 2k graphics but the player faces look waaaaaayyyy more realistic than 2k graphics.

reeree746
reeree746

This looks horribly hard to play.

thelong99
thelong99

@joeTheBest01 I can see that i have touched you in the wrong way,so i see EA has you brain washed too.If you can read, i said they make D-Wade look the same size as James,If you took time to understand what you read you would know i was talking about NBA TRASH 10.If you were smart you can see, there is no way i can say that because "they are not playing with D-Wade.I understand how mad you are about my comment,hey i used to be brain washed by EA TRASH, GARBAGE, MESS.Word of wisdom most people who say someone is stupid" is because they try too convince to them self they are not stupid, so they call other people stupid,,,And dont bother replying back,,since you say you never sign in and post,SORRY EA YOU FAIL. AND SORRY YOU ARE BRAIN WASHED, HAVE FUN WITH NBA TRASH ELITE..2011. PRETTY MUCH U MADE YOUR SELF LOOK LIKE A "DONKEY" AND YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.

JoeTheBest01
JoeTheBest01

@thelong99 I don't usually even sign in to Gamespot because I am content with just watching and reading the reviews without saying anything in the comment box or anything. I'm not a 2k fanboy nor am I a EA fanboy, but did you even read the article? It clearly says that they are playing with Lebron James and Kevin Durant, so I do not have a clue where you got Dwayne Wade out of that. You are obviously slighty retarded and like posting comments without reading everything. Don't bother commenting back with some ridiculous excuse or trying to burn me, because I won't ever get back on this preview to read it. You will just be wasting your time, and from the looks of it I can tell it will take you a long time to figure out what you are going to say being that you are the stupidest person I have ever heard from on this entire website. So save your trash talk for someone who does care about what little knowledge you may or may not possess, and instead READ EVERYTHING BEFORE YOU START POSTING IGNORANT, RETARDED, POINTLESS COMMENTS!

ebookerd1
ebookerd1

Uhhh I haven't purchased a basketball game since Pat Riley and NBA Jam... But this is pretty freaking cool!!

thelong99
thelong99

@wiLllambrewer,,U have to under stand look at this video, You mean to tell me that it took them almost 9yrs, too come up with these controls,,2k had these yrs ago,What im trying to say is" just like madden everyone is hype cause the said they fixed the gameplay,,,it took them 15yrs to figure that out,,where it took 2k...and backbreaker its first yr out to get that rite. EA has almost the whole world brain washed with these garbabge trash of a game they give to us,,,Sorry but i wll stick with backbreaker and 2ksport. Its been time to take a stand,,,dont buy this mess.

thelong99
thelong99

@blueguykisame Clearly i have paid attention,,and if you have 2k you wouold know these controls has already been used.,,SO it can do two more moves then 2k,,Wow when will EA stop this maddness, i can see EA has millions of people brain washed,Sorry but i can do a mid air crossover on 2k moving the rite stick around, i can change my shot thats a fact,,ask anyone who has 2k..sorry but EA just not cutting it anymore with sports games,.you know it and i know it.

WiLlIaMbReWeR
WiLlIaMbReWeR

2K fans comment negative about this game but for 2K they complain about what they need to fix......im just saying

Lafayette79
Lafayette79

Its looking like it's coming together nicely, nothing great but looks like an improvement

loksta87
loksta87

@ guile295 "from what i seen elite looks like another run and gun basketball game the "defensive" controls seem loose with the player sliding from one side to the other" You must be the biggest freakin idiot on this website. the guy with the controller is making him go side to side like that. Dude, seriously, I can't believe you're that stupid...

blueguykisame
blueguykisame

@thelong99 clearly these sticks in Elite control more than the ones in NBA2k do. If you would pay more attention, you'd know this.

thelong99
thelong99

I know this seem new too all you NBA TRASH ,,fans but these controls already been used, If u have 2k you can fade with the right stick,shoot,post,fake,change shots, ect,,so this is very old controls and NBA TRASH ELITE just now getting this? Wow EA is so far behind...SORRY ELITE U FAIL,,,,,

thelong99
thelong99

Funny how they had to change the name of the game,,from NBA TRASH,,TO NBA ELITE,,,sorry but this basketball game, never was elite and never will be.They can't even get the player models rite D-wade is the same height as James,2k is still lightyears ahead of this so called elite. Dnt cover up the mistake of the bad game by changing the name..More like a gimmick sorry you cant fool me with the name Elite,,You are still NBA TRASH,,,,all these new controls are old,,just pick up a copy of 2k and come back and watch the video, Then you will see how old this looks,,sorry EA YOU FAIL...

badman11226
badman11226

Good job NBA elite, look like you guys are stepping up to the plate. I like NBA2k but last year version was a failure. Everybody knows what happen when 2k release the 2nd patch its destroyed franchise. Big shooting 3 glitch. Shaq had 250 attempts from 3. Now 2k putting jordon on cover sound more of gimmick, i dont care if jordon is on the cover how about you finally release a game with few bugs to patch or release a patch doesn't f-up the game hmmmm 2k.

thelong99
thelong99

sorry but EA just not cutting it anymore, with sports games,,madden look like trash ,,now nba elite sorry i will stick with 2k..by the way i have backbreaker and im playing with nfl teams and rosters and i can never go back to madden,,,,when i saw the video the players look funny and move wierd now ,,if u played backbreaker u will know what i mean....

thelong99
thelong99

Wow this game look like trash,,,,,

walliworld
walliworld

Wow, he said "unprecedented controls" hmmm... I believe 2K has had these controls for years now

TT_audi_34
TT_audi_34

@deedee1 I play and watch my only sport basketball. I recall saying that I THOUGHT that live was more realistic and not that it was more realistic. I just don't play much 2k basketball, but I've tried 2k basketball, just not very often.

nba2KisLife
nba2KisLife

LIVE IS SOOO EFFIN TRASH. sorry. ELITE is sooooo effin trash

biskutsngravee
biskutsngravee

To all you 2k fanboys you cry about madden being the same every year and say 2k5 is still better than madden now your complaint is nba elite is stealing your controls.Ok just so im sure nba 2k u pull dwn then up to shoot(diff in elite),only thing the same is what has to be the same its basketball.Im not a complainer but for all u complainers nba 2k has been the same every year.To end it all dont be 1 track minded if a game comes out of a sport you love why wouldnt you want to play the best game,2k been on top for years but i think Elite might accually be a legit contender this year.

deedee_1
deedee_1

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

rahmie0789
rahmie0789

these controls are almost a complete rip off of 2k10s controls....