As a first timer to any NBA game it took me a couple of hours to get used to the gameplay. Now I am used to it I've got to say it's really fun and I havn't come across any annoying features that deter me from wanting to turn on my PS3 to play it. The attitudes and signature poses of the players, unless i'm mistaken, seem to have been captured perfectly, each different style of shooting, free throw etc. has been included.
Commentary is great and really helps a UK fan to feel more involved in the league, given that I don't want to pay for ESPN and the highlight reels on the NBA websites are a little underwhelming in length for the most part. I've noticed some repetition over the course of the last 10 or so hours i've been playing but since I've stuck to one or two teams i'm not suprised.
Rosters are not completely up to date, but all main Summer acquisitions are in place.
Live updates etc. add to the feel of involvement in the league rather than being stuck playing a separate game on your own. Internet access is not essential, of course, but it really adds to the experience.
Almost all settings are customisable, so if you don't want to spend ages skilling up, you can pretty much just make the difficulty a lot easier, increasing percentage chances of shots, customising song playlists, making your own player, playing as 'classic' teams from the ages (90's Bulls are pretty fun!).
I've been saving the Jordan challenge for when i'm properlly good but i've checked it out and for Jordan fans this is, well, really great! I was too young to truly appreciate that era technically and from what i've seen it's a really good way for me (and others obv.) to understand more of that era.
I would say graphics wise it's awesome. The peripheral graphics I founnd slightly disapointing to begin with, I don't find myself that aware of the stairs, the walls in the arenas when i'm watching TV coverage, but sometimes I notice too many large washed out grey areas in some of the arenas in game. You don't get this on TV coverage and I found it a little off. With HD everything is in such clarity that those little things are more noticeable, improvements to these aspects with lighting etc. would make the game far more moody and immersive for when you're not having that great a spell playing wise. However it's not enough to lower my rating as you even get to watch people getting up and going to the bar/ toilet?! causing people they're sitting with to get up when you're waiting for the opposing free-throws to end.
You can play this game casually but you can also play this game pro, the specific types of dunk, layup, plays, tactics, etc. are all available but you can kinda button bash and get a kind of dunk/ lay up etc. if you don't want to go THAT far. I've not messed with coaching strategies at all yet, but you can and in time i'm looking forward to. If you think you're interested, go for it, if you like the NBA this is a must really, there's so much going on here that I can't see myself getting bored of it even as they release 2K12!