As we reported in late-August, NBA 2K11 will ship with PlayStation Move support and will be adding 3D technology later in the calendar year, free of charge. Yesterday I got the chance to sit with a 2K Sports developer as he walked me through using Move in-game and the benefits of adding a third dimension to round ball.
We kicked things off with NBA 2K11's Blacktop Mode where players can take part in several different game variants. There's one-on-one, two-on-two, three-on-three, one-on-one-on-one in a game of 21 and a few others. Blacktop Mode sets out to be the arcade mode for those looking for something a bit more relaxed than the usual simulation gameplay. Also included in Blacktop Mode is a dunk contest, a feature that seems to have been designed specifically for use with PlayStation Move.
While it can be played on the Xbox 360 with the usual analog stick setup, it's obvious that the more immersive experience will be on PlayStation 3, even if it isn't the most accurate. Once I got the Move controller in my hand I was told there were three parts to dunking with the new peripheral. First, hold the T trigger to pick up the ball sitting on one of the racks situated on the court. Next, perform a gesture with Move to start the dunk animation, then perform a second gesture to launch into the dunk itself. Lastly, you'll need to let go of the trigger to let go of the ball and slam it through the hoop.
In my short demo with Move, the technology felt very early. Gestures weren't reading properly, timing seemed off and occasionally things felt too sensitive as a casual and slight movement with Move would be read as a gesture to start the dunk. Things weren't aided by the fact that the game doesn't support the navigation controller (apparently Sony just never sent one to 2K) so you're stuck using the Dualshock to move your player around. Here's hoping they can iron out some of the accuracy issues before the game ships in October.
Next up was a demo of the 3D technology that will be releasing later this year. For that, we hopped into a quick game with the Lakers and Celtics. A few elements such as the menu overlays and player icons weren't yet in three dimensions, but everything else seemed to be popping off the screen just as it should. The effect wasn't all that heavy-handed and provided a nice feeling of depth to what I was seeing. When the ball passed in front of a player's hand, it actually looked like it was a foot or so in front, just like it would in real life.
The coolest part of the 3D demo was when the 2K developer took the controller and hopped into an instant replay of an inbound pass. It doesn't sound very exciting, until you see it in 3D. The developer dropped the camera down to floor level and looked right at the player inbounding the ball. As he made the pass, it quite literally looked like the ball was going to pop right off the screen. At one point I even reached out my hands to catch it. Seriously, I did. It was embarrassing.
But as cool as the 3D tech was, it obviously still needed some time back in the 2K Sports studio. The framerate chugged at points, mainly when the camera pulled back to reveal cheering members of the crowd along with the action on the court, and some elements on-screen broke up into the double-image that you see when not wearing the 3D glasses. Not only that, but NBA 2K11 also suffered from the same issue that we've seen from other 3D titles, in that a slight slant of your head totally breaks the illusion. When I played Shaun White Skateboarding, the issue wasn't there, but when playing NBA 2K11 it showed its ugly head yet again.
In my short time checking out these two new features, the bigger draw for me was clearly the 3D capabilities. I think Move has potential, but it wasn't ready for primetime judging from the version that I saw and might need a patch after launch to further smooth things out. 3D on the other hand, showed that with a bit of tuning it could really change basketball games for the better. Now if only they could get rid of those terrible glasses you have to wear, then I'd be on board the 3D bandwagon in earnest.
NBA 2K11 is scheduled to ship on October 5 on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii. Stay tuned to IGN for more in the coming weeks.
©2010-09-17, IGN Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved