Let’s just get this out of the way. I was a HUGE fan of NBA 2K12, and that’s coming from someone who, while could appreciate a good/fun basketball game, didn’t play them very often. That was until last year’s edition, which had me hooked from the first time I demoed it and through the entire season. The game simply rocked and I had no qualms calling it the best sports game on the market and one of the best ever.
That being said, I was excited earlier this year to get my first hands-on time with NBA 2K13 and needless to say, I was pretty pumped up with what I got to experience. With the game finally being launched, basketball fans have plenty to look forward to with this year’s edition. Now, I will say this, there isn’t a huge leap in gameplay from last year’s game so in some instances, it feels more like a update of NBA 2K12, but with a few extras sprinkled in that make this the premiere basketball game on the planet.
First, I must give major props to the 2K Sports team and JAY Z, who of course is credited as the game’s executive producer. From a presentation perspective, NBA 2K13 is simply top-notch. Be it the awesome soundtrack that was hand-picked by JAY Z, or the way the intro packages mix in music videos with gameplay footage, it’s pretty clear that a lot of thought went into how the game would be presented. Graphically the game is without question, the most realistic looking basketball game I’ve ever seen and animations are fantastic.
In terms of gameplay, one of the biggest changes to this year’s title is the Control Stick. In last year’s game, you used the right analog stick to setup your shots, but this time around, you’ll use it to dribble and basically punk out a defender with some sweet moves. This change makes the experience of being on the court much smoother and realistic. It simply opens up so many new possibilities and gives you greater control of your player. It did take me a few games to get used to now holding the left-trigger while using the right analog stick to shoot, but I did eventually get it down. It’s a worthy trade-off to getting the dribble controls with the analog stick by itself. I also appreciated that the passing system identifies where the ball is located when you make a pass, while the game’s Dynamic Shop Generator takes into account a player’s weight, momentum and other intangibles.
Players will also get to use Signature Skills, which let specific players (aka stars) use additional traits that let them hit three pointers better, be defensive monsters, pump up the entire team and more. You can also earn Signature Skills using the game’s Virtual Currency for your created players. Speaking of which, the game’s MyCareer Mode gets a new GM sit-down feature that lets you player talk to the GM to share his thoughts on players, coaches and situations, which in turn also affect that player’s standing with his teammates, the media and more. I found using my created player to have a bit of an RPG feel to it with the way I upgraded my self, being able to play in a rookie game, get drafted, etc. You can even create you own shoes, which is pretty fun to do.
With past NBA 2K games having legends in them, NBA 2K13 now features the entire 2012 USA Men’s National Team, as well as the 2012 version, which lets you pit them in a head to head matchup for supremacy. You’ll still get classic teams of course, including the 2000 76ers lead by Allen Iverson. And just for a little comic relief, you can even use a celebrity team that includes Justin Bieber…no seriously.
All in all, NBA 2K13 is the best basketball game I’ve ever played. While I’d like to see the menu’s simplified a bit, the overall presentation, commentary and gameplay mechanics work extremely well. 2K Sports should be proud of their latest effort, even without the pressure of a competitor.