With no competition once again this year, 2K Sports could have just eased up and went for the easy layup, but instead they pulled off a full 360 dunk while sticking their tongue out and winking for the camera. Delivering an outstanding in-game presentation as well as brand-new control scheme, NBA 2K13 is the new king of virtual hoops.
Being the game’s executive producer, Jay Z’s influence can be felt the moment you first boot up the game. From the soundtrack to the beautifully crafted music video style intros to each match – blending music with footage of both teams; helping to get you pumped for the upcoming tipoff. All of the game’s menus have synthesizer style effects with flashing lights and movement, but if only the menus weren’t so convoluted they would be generally praised, but instead the difficulty in finding something as simple as an exhibition match lessens the experience. Someone please tell me why would you create menus that can’t be backed out of?
Thankfully the gameplay makes up for the lackluster and confusing menu structure, with rock-solid authentic gameplay that borderlines being too close to the real sport. Using the right stick to perform any and every dribble move, such as cross-overs and spin moves, it is also used in unison with LT/L2 for shooting. It takes some getting used to it and I can recall blowing wide open shots multiple times because my player would just stand around without releasing the ball. If you prefer, you can still use the old-school method of using the face buttons, but trust me once you get the handle on the new method you would never want to switch back.
Giving players the chance to mix together all different types of fakes and other fancy maneuvers, there never is a true indication of when is the right moment to pull of a specific maneuver. The game doesn’t feature a tutorial, but does provide the very vague tip of, “just wiggle the stick around.” I expect most casual players to just run up and down the court trying to dunk or shoot three’s without setting up post up moves.
I found myself spending the majority of my playtime in the vastly improved My Player mode. Creating my custom baller and participating in the rookie game, I ended up being drafted 17th overall by the Mavericks – after telling the 76er’s to literally get lost. 42 games into my rookie season and my virtual self is still not a starter and barely putting up 12 points per game – with an overall rating in the low 70’s I wouldn’t expect anything better. Earning Virtual Currency in any game mode, you can spend it on new appeal – shoes, hats, t-shirts – and skills to improve your created player. In a My Career match everything that you do in the game gets graded from A to F. I found the negatives tend to outweigh the positives you do in a match. Allow the player you are defending to score and expect to lose at least half a letter grade. Scoring on the other hand at times will increase your grade, but not always. Maybe its my lack of in-depth knowledge of the sport, but passing the ball to someone who scores sometimes counts as an assist and improves your rating, but sometimes it doesn’t.
Challenges help provide new goals during matches that will reward you with extra currency to spend on your player. You may have to take the lead with a couple minutes left in a quarter or record a steal and a rebound before the end of a game. After each game, your rookie player will answer a question from the media, that will affect your standing with your teammates, the media and your fans.
Signature Skills – new to the series – help differentiate players beyond the standard point rating that every player receives. With over 30 different skills available, players are able to have up to 5 different skills helping define their roles on the court, but of course you will find some players without any.
Having airness himself, is not new to the series, but NBA 2K13 boosts the entire 1992 Dream Team – including Scottie Pippen who was the lone hold out. The Celebrity Team on the other hand was something I could have lived without. Are fans of the series really looking forward to playing as Justin Bieber? Why not include an American President’s team instead? I’d take a dunking, foul mouthed Nixon over the Biebs any day.
If you are playing on the Xbox 360, the game supports voice commands through the Kinect. I’ll save you the trouble, it does not work – at least for my setup. In theory are able to call in subs, run plays on the fly and even be called for a technical foul for barking at the refs! The first issue I experienced is the kinect is constantly picking up random words from the announcers and will change formations, bring in new players from the bench and even call timeouts. I’ve even been called for a technical foul due to something the announces said after a play, but no matter what curse comes out of my mouth, it would never pick it up. Even when trying to call timeout nothing would happen, although I did experience really delayed actions where it would call timeout three to four minutes after they were originally called.
2K Sports has really outdid itself with providing the most authentic NBA experience on the market. The newly improved controls, the unbeatable presentation and not to mention commentary that is so good it could fool someone in an adjacent room that you were watching an actual NBA game. I was even prompted that the game updated the new New York Knicks jersey that debuted this year by simply turning the game on. Finally, what other company would put a flop button in their game? Now you can flop like Lebron James himself and win yourself an NBA Championship.Note: NBA 2K13 was reviewed on Xbox 360. A physical copy of the game provided by the publisher.