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Published on August 4th, 2010 | by prime

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NBA Elite 11

Before you discard this year’s NBA as another one purely for the fans, we’ve got one thing to say: NBA Elite 11 changes everything you know about basketball games. Okay, maybe not everything – this is no NBA Jam – but that statement is at least true of everything you know about the way your typical basketball simulation feels. Reflected skill stick, by EA’s decision to drop the ‘Live’ moniker the series has utilized since its 1995 inception, this year’s NBA is home to the biggest change the series has ever seen, which EA hope won’t just revitalize interest in the series, but open up the game to both casual fans and non-fans of the sport alike. An impossible task? Well, you might think so, but going by our recent hands-on, the studio appears to have achieved the unthinkable.

It’s all thanks to a new control method similar to NHL 07’s genre-changing placing control of the player’s legs on the left stick, and control of his hands on the right. It’s a revolutionary new interface, being both simple to use yet difficult to master. Much like the sport itself.

Flicking the right stick from left to right naturally bounces the ball from hand to hand, while pulling diagonally downwards weaves the ball between the player’s legs. Hold the left stick back and flick from side to side and he’ll effortlessly juggle the ball left to right behind his back, while letting off a shot is as easy as pushing the right stick forward and releasing at the peak of his hop. The closer to the peak, the higher the shot accuracy, while dunking the ball is as simple as running to the backboard and flicking up the right stick. More advanced moves come via holding down L2, forcing our player into a jump. Combine a jump with a shot and, if it goes in, you’ve got one of the most satisfying sensations in sports games. If you’ve played one of the recent NHLs, you’ll know exactly what we’re getting at. The same mechanics are true of defense. Swing the right stick left and you’ll throw in your left hand; throw the right stick right and… well, you get the idea.

It’s a wonderfully natural and thoroughly convincing evolution, and though it’s still very early in development, the mechanic already appears to do exactly as intended, adding a sensation of accuracy, flexibility and realism to a series previously dictated by roll of the dice button presses and canned animations. More importantly, the technology won us over much the same way it did in NHL 07 four years ago. We’re not particularly basketball fans, yet we found ourself returning to Elite 11’s demo pod time and time again.

It really is that good. NBA Elite 11 is still a way away from its targeted October release, but it’s already evident that NBA is something worth getting excited for. The control system works exactly as you’d expect it to, and though there are still the obvious kinks to work out – we were scoring three pointers all the way from the other end of the court in this early code – NBA Elite 11 could end up being the most accurate and most exciting basketball sim ever created.


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