NBA 2K11 Jordan Challenge Preview

For the first time since announcing Michael Jordan would be in the game, 2K Sports dropped by with a work-in-progress build of NBA 2K11 complete with "His Airness" to show off. In particular, I got to check out the Jordan Challenge mode that highlights his career, along with getting in a little stick time playing #23.

Predictably enough, the Jordan Challenge breaks his career down into ten signature games but detailed win conditions give this mode more depth than I initially expected. This isn't about trying to recreate one snapshot from the game; it's the whole Jordan package, and I learned that's no small order. It's also one worth seeing through, doing so unlocks Jordan as a rookie to be added to any modern team in the Create a Legend mode.

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Each challenge comes with a number of goals to fulfill. For example, the first challenge, "69 Points", requires not only scoring 69 (or more points), but also shooting over 50% from the field and winning the game. And that's just getting warmed up. The fourth challenge is "1991 NBA Finals", the whole finals. To win, Jordan must average 31 or more points per game and shoot better than 55% from the field for the series and, naturally, the Bulls must win it all as well. The full list of ten challenges follows after the jump.

To recreate all these classic games, 2K Sports didn't just need Jordan; they needed every player on every team he'd face in these match-ups. So that's what they went out and got, contacting all the retired players and arranging to include them in the game. And while they had to use video interpretation for these players instead of the motion capture they use for current stars, the movement comes off very naturally. I only played for a few minutes but response was sharp and the new work done to not lock players into animations seems to be paying off.

2K left with the promise to return in a few weeks with a build they could leave so I could play for a while. I'll have a full report then but in the meantime, here's the rundown on the Jordan Challenge:

"The Arrival"
When: April 20, 1986. Game 2, 1st round playoffs vs. Celtics

  • Goal 1: Score 63+ points
  • Goal 2: Shoot 50%+ from the field
  • Goal 3: Win the game
"Shootout"
When: Any date in 1990. Regular season game vs. Hawks
  • Goal 1: Outscore Dominique
  • Goal 2: Hold Dominique under 25 Points
  • Goal 3: Win the game
"Bad Boys"
When: May 26, 1990. Game 3, Eastern Conference Finals vs. Pistons
  • Goal 1: Score 47+ points
  • Goal 2: Win the game
"1991 NBA Finals"
When: June 2 thru June 12, 1991 vs. Lakers
  • Goal 1: Average 31.0+ points
  • Goal 2: Shoot 55%+ from the field
  • Goal 3: Win the series
"The Shrug"
When: June 3, 1992. Game 1, 1st round playoffs vs. Blazers
  • Goal 1: Score 35+ points in the first half
  • Goal 2: Make 6+ threes in the first half
  • Goal 3: Hold Drexler to under 20 points
  • Goal 4: Win the Game
"Double Nickel"
When: March 18, 1995. Regular season game vs. Knicks
  • Goal 1: Score 55+ points
  • Goal 2: Shoot 55%+ from the field
  • Goal 3: Win the game
"Father's Day Victory"
When: June 16, 1996. Game 6, 1996 Finals (last game of series as Bulls won 4-2) vs. Sonics
  • Goal 1: Score 22+ points
  • Goal 2: Grab 9+ rebounds
  • Goal 3: Win the game
"The Flu Game"
When: June 11, 1997. Game 6, 1997 Finals (not the last game of the series as it went to 7) vs. Jazz
  • Goal 1: Score 38+ points
  • Goal 2: Grab 7+ rebounds
  • Goal 3: Win the game
"Michael's Last Dance"
When: June 14, 1998. Game 6, 1998 Finals vs. Jazz
  • Goal 1: Score 45+ points
  • Goal 2: Get 4+ steals
  • Goal 3: Win the game