Review: NBA 2K13
Title: NBA 2K13
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, Wii, PSP, Wii U (reviewed on 360)
Developer: Visual Concepts
Publisher: 2K Sports
Tagline: The Pinnacle of basketball games has a minor stumble
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Verdict: Buy it Already
You would think when you are the only basketball game on the market, it would be a slam dunk to be a sales success, but 2K Sports and Visual Concepts have strived to be more than that with each iteration of the NBA 2K series. Starting in 2009, the series went on a stratospheric rise, first with the My Player mode, then a year later adding Michael Jordan as the cover athlete and finally last year, adding 15 top basketball legends into the mix. So how do you top that kind of pedigree? NBA 2K13 had a lot to live up to and for the most part it does make for a successful basketball game, even if it makes a slight stumble while driving to the hoop.
So how exactly do you top that sort of pedigree? I mean, when you go to the Jordan, Bird and Magic card, you kind of play your hand, and there isn’t much else left at the table, but this year, the 2K Sports team goes with the next generation of stars with Griffin, Durant and Rose. The team has taken these rising stars and mixed them together with the presentation style provided by one Shawn Carter, better known as Jay-Z. It is an interesting way to go about trying to do something new, and Jay-Z’s influence on the game is more than ancillary, as he has added music video montages for game intros and handpicked the music for the game.
Of course, all of that is moot if the game is no good, and thankfully, the core mechanics for NBA 2K13 are still some of the best we have seen on record. One of the new features that may or may not mean a lot to players is the idea of moving dribble moves to the right stick. With this, you start to get a more granular control over your dribble moves, which result in a more fluid and dynamic movement for your players. With this, you feel like you are more able to juke and fake the defender when looking to make a move to the basket, or for a solid assist. If you are stick challenged, you can still get a lot out of the standard dribble, but after some time, the right stick becomes a comfortable fit for any player’s game.
All the game modes that you have from years past can be found here, including MyCareer (renamed from MyPlayer, but more on that later), the Association, quick play and online to close things out. Any fan from the past couple of games might see that there is an omission where the Legendary games are gone. Instead, the Legends have been relegated to the MyCareer mode as training devices, where they help you build up your skills in one of several disciplines. While some might be upset by this, it does pave the way for all the classic teams to be unlocked right from the start, eliminating the need to unlock them by finishing all the challenges. Beyond classic teams, you even get the option to play as both the 2012 and 1992 Dream teams from the Olympics as well as a celeb team where you can jump into the shoes of Justin Bieber, Sean Kingston and others. A bit weird, but if those items are not your thing, you can avoid them.
The core of the game, in the opinion of most fans is probably the MyCareer mode, where you can take you player from the Rookie Shootout and guide him through a full NBA career, with the goal of making it to the basketball Hall of Fame. This year, the big change was moving the system away from skill points to VC, or virtual currency. VC becomes the main currency of the game, which can be earned through any mode, but rewards your MyCareer player with new clothes, gear and most importantly, bling-bling jewelry. Every part of MyCareer has been fixed, with the idea of making the focus more on your player, which was not necessarily the case in past NBA 2K games. Now, intro videos to games feature your player, and the commentators will comment on your previous performances, or how you answer questions at the post-game interviews. It is a solid mode, and it has only become better with these new additions. I am still on the fence about the Virtual Currency, but it is not something that interferes with the mechanics of the mode.
Sadly, you cannot take your MyCareer team online when you play, but you can take your player into 3v3 blacktop matches, where you will compete wearing the upgraded gear that you have purchased for your player. You can also pick any team to play online, and there are leagues and tournaments that are held online for those that want to take their skills to the public at large.
Taking a page from Electronic Arts, new to the game this year is the addition of a MyTeam mode of gameplay, which is very akin to the Ultimate Team mode in FIFA or Madden. You start with a team of scrubs and you try to work your way to the playoffs with this team. As you play more people and win, you can unlock more players, with the goal to be the fielding of a solid, top tier team. Grinding is the name of the game here, as you really do start with garbage and it does take a lot of playing online to unlock players that will give you a fighting chance. I was never a fan of this in other games, and I did not find myself enjoying it much here. Some will love it, but I just felt it took far too much time to make headway in gaining good cards.
I should mention that there is Kinect support in NBA 2K13 if you have a Kinect device hooked up to your Xbox 360. As with most other games that have mixed in the Kinect, NBA 2K13 uses the device for voice commands. Now you can call for screens, or name out people to set up plays for automatically. Most of these commands worked as advertised, with a few issues here and there. The better thing that happened to me, was a game where I was playing terrible, and a bad foul call went against me and I screamed out an obscenity, and I got a Kinect message that a technical foul had been called on me for abusive language towards a ref. I don’t know if it was coincidence or not, but I give points to the Kinect support if this was a true feature.
Even with some minor faults and stumbles, NBA 2K13 is still at the top of not only the basketball game arena, but probably one of the best sports games you can play right now. It gets everything right when it comes down to the game you are playing on the court. It rewards those that want to wring the most out of the game with deep controls and options, but finds a way to cater to those that just want to sit down and have a fun, casual experience with their favorite team, or player. It might not match up to NBA 2K12, but NBA 2K13 is still the best sports game you will play, period.
- MyCareer Mode is more focused on your player
- Gameplay fits to any gamer’s playstyle or understanding of the game
- Who doesn’t want to play as the Dream Team
- MyTeam mode feels like a long haul grind
- Engine is looking a bit dated
- Did I mention Justin Bieber is in the game
NBA 2K13 is a sports title that is pretty safe for kids of all ages. There are some questionable lyrics with some of the music tracks, although foul language has been censored out of them, but the game as a whole is pretty cool. IF you like basketball, and want a game that can appease all skill levels, this is a fun and safe game for the entire family.