NBA Elite 11 - Your Questions Answered

We fill you in on the game's new control scheme, NBA Jam, and becoming a legend.

NBA Elite 11 is EA's attempt at rebooting its annual pro basketball franchise. Besides ditching the NBA Live moniker it has used for years, the development team at EA Canada has gone with a risky new control scheme that maps most of your actions--from crossovers to layups--to the analog sticks. Clearly, interest in NBA Elite is pretty high, as proven by the sheer number of comments we received last week after we posted an open call for GameSpot users to send us questions about the new game. And after playing around with a build that EA sent our way, we've got a pretty good idea of how things are going to shake out. So without further ado, here are GameSpot editors Shaun McInnis and Giancarlo Varanini to answer some of those questions.

Zeifer21x asks: Is the gamble EA is taking with the control scheme paying off?

Shaun says: The simple answer is "yes and no." I've played a number of games so far, and there are certain aspects of the controls that I really enjoy and others that I still can't quite get a hang of. Overall, I like the move over to analog controls. Things like flicking left and right to switch hands while dribbling or doing a through-the-legs sidestep to fake out your defender on a fast break are really satisfying to pull off. Likewise, I think that shooting makes a lot more sense when you're worried about not only timing the release, but also making sure the direction of the stick is properly aligned. But there are also things that don't make sense--like how a simple layup is still much more difficult to consistently pull off than a three-pointer. So on the whole, I think the control system makes the game more entertaining, but Elite 11 still feels very much like a first attempt at a transformation that will likely take a couple of iterations to come into its own.

Giancarlo says: I'm with Shaun on this one. I really like the idea of having the majority of controls mapped to the right analog stick, something EA has been dabbling with since NBA Live 2003, but there's a really narrow window for the development team to get it right. In my brief time with the game, I wasn't completely sold on the control scheme right away and even switched back to standard controls for a short time. But the new control scheme started growing on me after a few games.

VIRGIN_ISLANDER asks: So how are things on the defensive of the ball? Playing defense in live was way too frustrating which automatically brings up a next question. How responsive are the controls? And does the new physics system actually make the game play better than live?

Shaun says: I'd say the control changes make things more fun on the defensive side of the ball. You're able to do things like hold either arm out to the side to block passing lanes, poke at the ball to force a steal, and stick your arms straight up to block the basket. It's not quite as skill-based as the offensive controls, but it does make defense feel like a more active experience. My main issue with defense is that teammate AI can be rather inconsistent. A number of times, teammates near the rim refused to go up for the defensive rebound, letting the ball bounce lazily into the hands of the offense for another shot attempt.

Giancarlo says: Aside from what Shaun just said about rebounding AI on defense, I feel like the defensive AI on the whole is pretty good and really forces you to sharpen your offensive game. Lazy passes are frequently picked off, and it's not that easy to drive through the paint unless you're controlling some superstar player--but even then, it's a challenge. I'll be interested to see how consistent that is throughout the whole game and not just when you're playing against skilled teams.

RealHarry asks: We saw them demo the stick control at E3, but that was just controlling one guy. How is the team gameplay? Is there anything to emulate the team nature of the sport? Or is it just solo tricks and simple pass and shoot?

Shaun says: You start the game going through a series of one-on-one tutorials designed to ease you into the experience of controlling your guy with the analog sticks. Once you graduate from there, it's a little jarring going into a full five-on-five game. Trying to drive into a crowded lane--even with a tank like LeBron James--is genuinely challenging even after you master the controls. So that's one element of team controls: you really need to adapt your fancy dribbling to crowds, because you can and will lose control of the ball if you try to do too much. Beyond that, you can still pass the ball with the right trigger, call for screens, and use the directional pad to call plays and adjust formations on the fly.

banuroll asks: Can you build your own player and play with him in season mode or something?

Shaun says: Yep, there's a mode in here called Become Legendary. You create your own player from scratch, see him get drafted into the league, and build up your skills on a game-by-game basis. You basically earn XP and build up your stats by playing well, keeping an eye out for feedback from your virtual coach, and making sure you keep your game grades high. I didn't sink a lot of time into this mode because of two reasons. One, it seemed like a mode you could very easily lose a lot of time in, and I wanted to focus on the basic gameplay controls. And two, my player was cruelly drafted by the Oklahoma City Thunder. I grew up a diehard Seattle Sonics fan. I'll let you do the math on that one.

silverdoe asks: Will it have Jordan?

Shaun says: Well, I came pretty close to seeing Jordan in the game thanks to a hilarious bug. I was in a Become Legendary game against the Chicago Bulls, and their backup power forward, a draftee named Ekpe Udoh, was inexplicably wearing number 23. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure they retired that number. You know, for that Jordan guy.

gago-gago asks: I was just wondering, when you buy Elite 11, NBA Jam is included as a redeemable code? Or you will need to put in the Elite 11 disc and somehow redeem it from there? Thanks.

Giancarlo says: What we do know about the version of NBA Jam included with NBA Elite 11 is that it will come with the game in the form of a redeemable code, but how that code is redeemed (whether it's with NBA Elite in the system or not) remains to be seen. Our preview build has no mention of NBA Jam in any of the menus or any option to enter a code, so a good guess would be that it's completely separate. At any rate, there are no current plans to sell the 360 and PS3 versions of NBA Jam separately from NBA Elite.

Coolgamer asks: What online modes will be included in the final game?

Giancarlo says: The biggest addition for online stuff is the EASBA or the EA Sports Basketball Association. This mode lets you take a created player and team and have them compete in online leagues. As you progress, your team and player levels up. Then you start getting a larger fan base and more support in the form of bigger and better arenas. It's an interesting feature that gives some greater player persistence over the standard modes that are also available such as versus, team play, and online leagues.

Want the latest news about NBA Elite 11?

NBA Elite 11

NBA Elite 11

Follow

Discussion

49 comments
JSpEazy
JSpEazy

I loved nba live 10 it was stupid good, played elite 11's demo it really sucked and i was highly disappointed, I see why this game was canceled

dantejones
dantejones

Does this column/blog even exist anymore? Certainly plenty is happening in the world of sports gaming but this column is abandoned. I'd kill to have the access and time to play these games and check this page daily to no avail. Time to move on, I suppose.

Jimbobthon
Jimbobthon

If only what EA say about this is true. They said stuff about it's Live series which sounded good, but always let it down.

BiggEdd32
BiggEdd32

crunchb3rry Posted Sep 13, 2010 1:31 am GMT "but Elite 11 still feels very much like a first attempt at a transformation that will likely take a couple of iterations to come into its own. " By "iterations" he probably doesn't mean tweaks prior to Elite 11's release. He probably means "we'll have it fixed by Elite 18." thats being generous

SciDev
SciDev

I'm a 2k fan buts been years since ea has done a worthy NBA game. Competition is good

KingDre410
KingDre410

2KKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK

MLGgamingyeayea
MLGgamingyeayea

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

benboz
benboz

This sounds cool

crunchb3rry
crunchb3rry

"but Elite 11 still feels very much like a first attempt at a transformation that will likely take a couple of iterations to come into its own. " By "iterations" he probably doesn't mean tweaks prior to Elite 11's release. He probably means "we'll have it fixed by Elite 18."

batjuice
batjuice

Being a hardcore basketball fan I give both 2k and Live a lot of play each year. I was leaning heavy on the 2k side for a pretty long time but despite some of the reviews I feel like NBA Live was the better and more realistic game of basketball once given a long enough chance. Both games were flawed but some of the natural organic plays they really got right in live as opposed to 2k. For instance the fast breaks in live the defenders don't catch up just like in real life, where as 2k I could always get my defender to catch up to him doing a lay up animation or dunk I wouldn't want for a dunk or run in front of him and hit the trigger to square my shoulders and halt his progress. The small natural parts of basketball they really understand, also the player stats that are updated every day are really accurate you get a real sense of what each player is capable of, where as 2ks random roster updates had me feeling like they screwed up certain players or bias was involved in the rankings, not to mention lack of players updated in the roster updates on an irregular basis.

BessenStock
BessenStock

They need to get to where the 2K series is, then worry about the other stuff. I prebought 2K11 already. The 90s is when the game was the best.

grey_fox1984
grey_fox1984

I'm not crazy about the "NBA Jam exclusive to NBA Elite" strategy. It seems like they are blatantly trying to hurt NBA 2K more that help their own sales. I might buy NBA Jam, but i find ALL Basketball sim games super boring; so i would literally just be buying Elite for the downloadable minigame that comes with it- which isn't worth $69.99. I think they should have the guts to put Elite out there, and if it IS legitimately better than 2K, the game'll speak for itself. Bundling it with a game that should be a $20 DLC as its strongest selling point is cowardly, because those who do buy it FOR NBA Jam will likely not want to spend another $70 on 2K, even if it is the superior sim. If they included a DEMO for NBA Jam that'd be a bit more fair- Zone of the Enders/Metal Gear Solid 2 style. Because a demo seems more like a bonus than a major deciding factor for buying a full priced game. I wanted the MGS 2 demo back in the day, but ZoE seemed solid enough to warrant a purchase anyway (and the sequel ROCKED!)

L-Wizzy
L-Wizzy

i hope there will be post game play.....

Tevi
Tevi

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

DeeViouS007
DeeViouS007

@gago-gago Electronic Arts Inc. announced that all new copies of NBA ELITE 11 will include a one-time download code that will enable users to access three modes of NBA JAM Play Now, Classic Campaign and Online.

docwoo
docwoo

The hockey game is awesome and Madden is also really good this year. I'm not sure why it's taking EA so long to get the basketball game right?

padrenes86
padrenes86

if EA graphics engine did a better job on the player likeness and If they tightened up on some other issues it would be a no brainer. I gotta go the 2k way, peace out EA!!! NBA JAM though I have to get it lol

Vikasgames94
Vikasgames94

2K is good but 2k10 there was less depth than NBA Live 10. Let's see what happens now? But still 2K is better but that doesn't mean EA is Bad.

young_baller1
young_baller1

@spadez7777 The 2k11 demo comes out 9/14/10. Don't know about Elite though.

j-force01
j-force01

@blueguykisame the become a legend mode is like my player mode on 2k. so if i were you i pick 2k11, nba 2k11 has it all!!!!! good graphics, nice gameplay. good animation

BlakkSteel
BlakkSteel

I can't see spending $65 for NBA Jam

lch153
lch153

not interested, 2k is where it's at

deathstream
deathstream

@skullomania2 Elite doesn't cost any more than 2K does. There is no "extra" cost- unless you were planning to buy it used in which case EA doesn't really give a $&^# if you buy it or not, as they don't see a single penny from the used game sale.

spadez7777
spadez7777

When do the demos for this and 2k11 come out?

skullomania2
skullomania2

Sorry NBA Elite. You charge Extra, I go elsewhere! NBA2K11 Here I come!!

blueguykisame
blueguykisame

will wait for reviews and hopefully demos of this and 2k.. not sure which one yet. like the become a legend idea, but also am eager to learn more about Jordan. And what he said about it maybe taking a few installments to get this control scheme right.. thats how i feel.

CrashOV
CrashOV

sounds like it's best to rent or try first before buying this. I've switched to 2K since the horrible and unplayable NBA live 07. I dont mind giving EA another shot but it has to really not be as bad as 07. I'm certainly not going to just go out and buy it. I have lost alot of confidence in EA over the years.

docwoo
docwoo

Adding the EASBA feature and Jam is pretty cool, but it sounds like the gameplay still has many of the same problems from last year. So far, I'm not impressed.

YouVandal3
YouVandal3

.....i just dont think i can bring myself to buy this just for jam..... but Elite would be a good trading block for MOH COD or even AC:B....

gameguy25217
gameguy25217

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

PowerEchidna
PowerEchidna

I am really torn at the moment between Elite and 2k. These answers show me that EA is making strides but may still be behind 2k a little. For sure I am going to try both games demos' to see for myself to make a final decision.

lozvil
lozvil

I want Jordan in my basketball game so I'll go with 2K11 :)

RealHarry
RealHarry

This is looking like a good first attempt, but I doubt it's gonna have the same impact that NHL did when they switched over to stick controls. Hopefully though, after some trial and error and user feedback, they'll get things right, cause the new control scheme is promising and the shooting mechanic needed changing a long time ago.

DarkAxe54
DarkAxe54

2k11 will kick this games ass, with jordan mode, revamped my player and better mechanics. all this has that looks ok is the shooting. im not gettin this game just for the shooting mechanic. maybe rent. MAYBE

lilflex1
lilflex1

@DeeCrutch true. i sent a email to ea about live and me not buying anymore ea basketball games and they basically asked me not to stop supporting this basketball series

JohnsThaKing
JohnsThaKing

Im interested to see how the control scheme will turn out in the future. Im a huge NHL fan and the way that series turned around was some pure monumental ish.

kungfuj0
kungfuj0

I'll be interested in trying the demo. It does worry me, though, that the guy said this felt like a first run that will take a few iterations to get completely right. That is to be expected, but the problem is EA has done this ALOT! They've come with a game that felt like it would be right in a couple years, and then it just never gets there. Live 2003 would be a great example. 03 was a good first shot at something. 04 was better, then they just let it go in the crapper with 05-07. 08 again was solid, with 09 being better, then it went downhill again with 10. Now they are restarting again with 11. I guess at some point I'm going to have to say **** it and start my own studio for the express purpose of making a basketball game that does what I want it to. Both EA and 2K have failed miserably in that regard the past few years, and I no longer have much confidence in either of them. One company thinks a name change and a revamped control scheme will save them while the other thinks that adding a 50 year old player is all they need to do to fix their game. They are both horribly, horribly wrong.

lilflex1
lilflex1

the only reason i would buy this is a certain feature in elite the only thing i dont like about 2k is you have to mess with the left analog stick to cross over but 2k has my eye also just have to play the demos when they come out

lilflex1
lilflex1

every year nba live games froze up during dynasty or glitched online. they can change the word Live to Elite but gameplay might not change. ill give it a try

RGDT021
RGDT021

"there are no current plans to sell the 360 and PS3 versions of NBA Jam separately from NBA Elite"... go F your mother EA.

therealthomonke
therealthomonke

love the 2k fanboys. they are always the first in the building. man, you fans either have alot of free time or you are devoted to hating. as far as the article goes, they really didn't have any significant negatives which is awesome. i was a bit afraid that things would be rough around the edges but the things they complained about (like layups being too hard) can easily be adjusted in a patch. one thing i was concerned about was if it would be too easy to drive to the basket but they said quite the opposite which is awesome. can't wait for the game!!!

granddogg
granddogg

Yeah I,ll stick with 2k11.....this game looks dated and dull

maaly81
maaly81

ill pass..... no pun intended