In my opinion, baking the perfect cheesecake requires the use of a bain marie during baking. A bain marie is simply a water bath that buffers the direct heat from the sides and bottom of the baking pan to more evenly bake the cheesecake from the sides to the center.
I bake my cheesecakes in a 9 inch spring form pan that has the bottom and sides wrapped in multiple layers of wide heavy duty aluminum foil which forms a sort of boat that the cheesecake pan sits in. The roll of aluminum foil that I use is about 16 inches wide. I use at least 4 layers of foil to make sure that no water leaks in and ruins the crust of my cheesecake. The aluminum foil wrapped pan is then placed inside a larger baking pan; I use a 12 inch cake pan. Boiling water is then poured into the larger pan filling it from ½ to ⅔ of the way to the top.I find it best to pour the boiling water into the pan after it is placed on the rack in the oven as you are less likely to splash water onto the cheesecake or inside the aluminum foil. I reuse the aluminum foil for several future cheesecakes, adding a couple of layers to it each time just to be safe.
EVEN IF YOU CHOOSE NOT USE A BAIN MARIE still use the aluminum foil wrap around the cheesecake pan. The aluminum foil still offers a good buffer to the heat. High heat and baking too quickly is the main reason that a cheesecake becomes dense and not creamy.