NBA 2K11 is the deepest sports game I have ever played. There is so much here I could probably go the rest of my life without another yearly iteration of 2K's NBA series, and that would not bother me a bit. Michael Jordan graces the cover, the UI, and several game modes, serving as the central theme for NBA 2K11. The game opens with a bombastic tribute to MJ, and instead of initially being presented with a menu to select your desired game mode, it immediately throws players into one of Michael's signature games.
This opening sequence gives the player their first taste of the Michael Jordan challenge mode available in NBA 2K11. This mode puts the player in Michael's shoes, tasking players with completing various objectives. Objectives include things like scoring a certain number of points before the half, completing a designated number of assists, and getting a certain shooting percentage. Completing all of the Michael Jordan challenges allows the player access to the MJ: Creating a Legend game mode. This puts a rookie level Michael directly into the players hands, allowing them to develop his career as they see fit.
Beyond the Jordan challenges, the game offers various other quick play modes encompassing both current and classic teams. There is an NBA blacktop mode that includes various mini-challenges such as three point shootouts and dunk contests. Snoop Dogg, Drake, and various other celebrities are available for play beyond the normal NBA roster. Players have the option of taking their own custom character through a 'My Player' mode, which has them managing the player's entry into the NBA. This mode is more about the journey than the player's actual NBA career, and there's a long road before reaching the NBA itself. This mode is pretty sweet and has the player reacting to game decisions at press conferences, signing sponsors, etc. This is another long term game mode that will have players continuously coming back to NBA 2K11.
NBA 2K11's actual gameplay is infinitely deep and is not only difficult to master, but pretty difficult to simply learn as well. This can prove troublesome for players new to the NBA 2K series as there are virtually no tutorials and no in-game help provided within the UI. This leaves players with the need to consult the physical game manual, which is simply blasphemous. Simple actions such as shooting or passing have a multitude of variations depending on what other buttons are pressed in conjunction with the pass/shot. More advanced players will want to get the analog sticks involved for on-the-fly play changes such as dribbling behind the back to get around a defender, or making a last minute hand change on a layup. After taking the time to learn the system, players can make some truly great and flashy plays, pushing the momentum of games off the charts.