NBA 2K11 First Look

2K Sports shows off its upcoming hoops game on the show floor of E3 2010, and we've got the first look.

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From a competition standpoint, basketball continues to be the most interesting area of the sports gaming world. Shifting personnel and sometimes public bickering between EA Sports and 2K Sports have made for a rivalry that continues to be fascinating to watch. It hasn't hurt that last year's hoops games were strong efforts from both companies. And while EA has its own vision for how basketball video games should be played, 2K continues to refine its own approach to a series that has stood as a benchmark in the sport for years. Today on the show floor of E3 2010, we got a look at the next game in the 2K franchise, NBA 2K11.

We didn't get hands-on time with 2K11 today, but we did see the game in action and listen to 2K Sports' Rob Jones explain some of the tweaks his team has made to the game--changes and improvements that look to cover nearly every aspect of the game. A new presentation style will incorporate even more broadcast elements to the look of 2K11. In fact, Jones said 2K has enlisted the help of a television producer to bring a more polished and professional sheen to the game's pregame intros, camera angles, and graphics. When you couple that with the returning NBA Today features, you've got an NBA 2K game that's slick and attractive from the tip-off to the final whistle. Graphical enhancements aren't just for the presentation--the actual players and arenas will see improvements in 2K11, thanks to improvements to player models, jerseys, and more.

Of course, graphics are only part of 2K's battle for hoops supremacy this year. The team is also working on giving 2K11 players more control over the action on the court than ever before. When talking about goals for 2K11's gameplay, Jones harks back to earlier entries in the NBA 2K series, like NBA 2K7 and NBA 2K8. These were games that, according to him, played more intuitively than perhaps the series has seen in recent years.

In fact, an intuitive control scheme seems to be one of the big aims for this year. Consider the half-spin move as an example. In NBA 2K10, executing a half-spin required the player to press both triggers and push back on the stick--inputs that seemingly have virtually nothing to do with a spin move. This year, spinning the stick in one direction and then reversing the direction of the spin will execute the half-spin move. Makes more sense, yeah?

In addition to control tweaks, Jones said that 2K11 will move away from the two-man animations that have defined the series for years now. Jones referenced the jostling system found in EA's FIFA series as a point of reference. From the sound of things, players will be able to make contact with one another and then make better individual choices of what to do after that contact is initiated. Finally, though he didn't go into detail, Jones said that online is another area of focus with NBA 2K11, including a reengineering of the online infrastructure to better handle the glut of players looking to get in some online hoops.

One last bit: As you've probably heard by now, Michael Jordan has been announced as the cover star of NBA 2K11. Asked whether His Airness would be a playable character in NBA 2K11, Jones wouldn't commit to a solid "yes" or "no." While we wouldn't bet the whole farm on MJ being playable, we'd at least consider putting up the barn and the horses. Look for much more coverage of NBA 2K11 in the coming months as we lead up to its release in the fall.

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