Editorial: NBA 2K12 'Legends Showcase' should be a standalone game

#RIPNBA

With talks between the NBA and its players having broken down, fans are pouring their frustrated sentiments on various social media sites. 2K Sports should see this as an opportunity to position its upcoming "Legends Showcase" DLC for NBA 2K12 as a standalone game.

As an add-on to a retail game, 2K Sports is forcing fans who--more than ever may not buy this year's NBA 2K offering--into purchasing a $60 game in order to access content that's safeguarded from the politics of the NBA infighting. That decision may be short-sighted, especially when EA has already proven the success of an alternate model.

Electronic Arts hasn't been able to ship a proper NBA console game in years, ever since the cancellation of NBA Elite. However, it's managed to salvage the brand by releasing NBA Jam at retail and via downloadable services. Based on PSN sales stats, the latter decision turned out to be a tremendous success for the publisher. The downloadable arcade-inspired basketball game became the top-selling game during the month of its release.

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NBA 2K12's "Legends Showcase" is, in many ways, similar to EA's Jam offering. Both eschew a realistic look in favor for a stylized presentation. Legends features a roster of classic basketball stars, cel-shades them, and pairs them up for some pretty fantastic matches. While players won't be exploding in flames, they're still able to perform some over-the-top modes. In the DLC's HORSE mode, you'll be able to aim at the basket while standing atop of a bus... backwards.

With over a hundred players, including Michael Jordan and Larry Bird, and a number of gameplay modes (including my personal favorite, half-court 2-on-2), the "Legends Showcase" DLC is a meaty offering that's easily worth the $10 asking price. If this were a standalone game on XBLA or PSN, it'd be easy to recommend.

But it's not. And I'm sure that a lot of fans aren't willing to pay the $60 retail cover charge to play a season that's currently MIA. Fans burned by the continued NBA lockout could be playing as classic players--ones that aren't steeped in contract negotiations--and it would have been a great $10 distraction.