The past few years, Visual Concepts has had the luxury of producing NBA simulations without any competition. Despite being literally “the only game in town,” the 2K franchise has made great efforts to keep things fresh. This year was supposed to mark the return of EA Sports’ NBA Live, but yet another cancelation has left NBA 2K13 alone on the shelf of realistic hoop titles. Still, the threat of EA returning to the market seems have to motivated the Visual Concepts team. Their latest offering might be one of the most ambitious attempts in years. Unfortunately, it still falls short of the top titles in 2K series.
The Gameplay in NBA 2K13 offers everything fans of the franchise have grown to expect. The dunks are big, the action is fast, and at times the game feels disturbingly realistic. No detail is spared, as your athletes will rock their favorite shoes as they sprint up and down the hardwood of each unique arena.
NBA 2K13 features the most dramatic control change the franchise has seen since the introduction of the shot stick. For years, the right analog stick has been used to trigger a number of jump shots, layups, dunks and post finishes. This year, the right analog is used to serve up crossovers. Moving the analog stick from right to left will make ball handlers do the same with the ball. The new system still features all of the spins, size ups and step backs that has made for the most intuitive and innovative ball handling experience in the history of basketball video games. However, the new system does present a very large problem. Gamers who have spent years mastering the intricacies of the shot stick will be disappointed. Holding down the L2 button transforms the right analog stick into the shot stick that many have grown to know and love. But to perform a dunk using the shot stick, you must hold both L2 and R2 and then flick the shot stick in the desired direction. Pulling off dunks on fast breaks should not take this many button presses. Also, performing pump fakes with the shot stick seems to have a lost a bit of the responsiveness that it once featured. Despite it’s drawbacks, there are still some advantages to the revamped controls. The animations are sharp as ever. Using an in-and-out move to blow past or floor a defender feels much more rewarding.
Passing has been one of the main subjects of complaint in past iterations of 2K. NBA 2K13 is no different. Gamers will undoubtedly find themselves screaming at the screen when a player decides to throw a pass straight at a defender instead of an open teammate cutting to the basket. The ability to throw devastating alley-oops off of the backboard almost makes up for this flaw but it’s still hard to overlook the passing woes.
Sometimes, less is more. This is a concept that Visual Concepts has yet to grasp. Menu screens are jam-packed with way too many graphics and the unnecessary silhouette of the games celebrity executive producer, Jay-Z.
One of the strengths of the NBA 2K13 is audio. The soundtrack is a solid collection of titles assembled by the aforementioned rap mogul. Also, the commentary is amazing. Kevin Harlan, Clark Kellogg, Steve Kerr and Doris Burke provide realistic analysis and background stories for every team and most players.
Whether you are looking to help your favorite team win a couple of championships or you are looking to create your very own NBA superstar, NBA 2K13 has you covered.
NBA Today is probably the best exhibition mode any sports game has to offer. On the surface, it appears to be a typical quick play option. What sets it apart is live stats, analysis and advertisements for upcoming games. The same presentation is featured in other modes of the game, but the fact that NBA Today uses real stats and schedules makes it a bit more impressive.
MyCareer (formerly known as MyPlayer) has returned with a bunch of new details that add plenty of replay value. The new Social Media and expanded shoe customization features make the mode feel a bit more personalized.
Another bright idea the folks at Visual Concepts cooked up this year is the Virtual Currency system. Players now earn VC for playing the several different game modes 2K13 has to offer. VC can be used to buy special features and—more importantly—upgrades for MyCareer mode. Unfortunately, the VC system is horribly flawed. Players will spend a large chunk of time waiting for VC transactions to be processed and saved to the 2K servers. Even worse, when the 2K servers are out of order or you experience other Internet related problems it can create a number of issues—many of which don’t seem to be isolated incidents.
NBA 2K13 is definitely worth the price of purchase. Not because it’s the only basketball simulation out, but because it is one of the deepest sports simulations period. The gameplay has found the balance between realism while still being fun. However, there are a few quips that hold it back from being a classic. In the meantime, let’s pray a patch comes soon to fix some of the major glitches.