For a while now, 2K Sports has been ruling the virtual court with an iron fist. The developers has taken the NBA 2K series to the top, posterizing each and every competitor with fluid animations, intense and fun gameplay, and top-notch presentation that’s had fans and critics alike raving with each subsequent release. But now a new entry in the beloved series has seen release, and with no competition in sight to push the series to the next level, is NBA 2K13 another step to greatness, or is it a rehash of the same old moves?
While the game is still 2K Sports’ baby, NBA 2K13 has had a number of changes in the development floor due to an outsider’s input. New to the series is producer Jay Z’s influence on the game in a number of ways, and to tell the truth, it works. His presence in the game is quite a nice addition. For those of you who don’t know who he is, Jay Z is one of the most recognizable musical artist’s of this generation, and he’s also a business man. While I’m not saying that Jay Z’s input changed the face of the franchise dramatically, his work on the game can clearly be felt in a number of ways.
First off are the visuals. As the other entries before it, the animations and presentation in this game are an absolute blast to behold, and are an important part of the game. Players in the game dribble, run, dunk, shoot, pass and defend with animations that are so varied, realistic and precise, that you can just sit down, drop the controller, watch a game and still have a fantastic time. The awesome presentation also makes a comeback in this edition, albeit much more improved – which was supervised by Mr. Jay-Z himself this time around – and it only helps to place authenticity in the title. From replays hosted by famous brands, to in-game commercials and pre-game music videos, it looks just like you’re watching a live game on TV, and it can’t get any much better than that.
The same goes for the excellent music. The soundtrack provided by the artist is killer, with a slew of pumping tunes that range from rap and hip-hop,to rock and pop. There isn’t a single track that’s weak, and they actually do a great job of getting the blood pumping for the next game.
When it comes to the basketball game, the sound is even greater. From the loud roars of the cheering crowds, to the excellent group of commentators who speak their lines with a grace and fluidity that makes them feels organic, and finally tto the grunts of the players and the sounds of sneakers on hardwood, the sound is absolutely perfect.
When it comes to the gamplay, NBA 2K13 plays just as it should, with solid controls that allow players to take control of the entire team, and take the ball from off-court to the net. Doing so is pretty easy, and when it comes to offense and defense, the game features a number of button inputs that are simple to use, feel natural and are responsive, allowing the player to move the ball down the court or keep the pressure on defense without much effort. Ball-handling has also been improved this time around, assigning the cool-looking crossovers and dribbling moves to the right analog stick, so a simple swing of it allows players to nicely spin and dribble their way through any defense easily.
Teammate A.I. is great in NBA 2K13, as the computer-controlled players play the game intelligently, as they look for open lanes, free themselves up for passing, guard efficiently and more. It’s great when players don’t really need to micromanage every aspect of the game, as your teammates can pretty much hold their own.
In addition to the standard game modes like exhibition matches and more, players can create their own player and take them through the newly renamed MyCareer. While it’s pretty much the same as previous iterations of the game mode in the NBA 2K series, players can now negotiate contracts, talk to the GM before or after a ball game, participate in post-game conferences and more. Also new is the appearance of social media, where fans tweet their thoughts about the games and the created player. It’s an interesting inclusion in the game mode, seeing how players can directly influence their fanbase in this one.
Players can also act as coach in matches, issuing time-outs, bench time for players, formations and more. While not necessarily new, this edition of NBA 2K allows Xbox 360 users the option of using the Microsoft Kinect to issue voice commands for the first time ever. Voice commands work well in the game, as they are usually recognized by the Kinect, and makes playing that much easier, as you can change things up on a whim.
While the game is nearly perfect, it does have a couple of flaws that holds the title back a bit, first of which is the A.I. While the player A.I. Is super solid, we can still see some questionable things here and there on the court. Occasionally computer-controlled players will run out of bounds, miss passes from the refs on the out of bound lines, commit stupid plays, and more. These weird actions don’t really occur all the time, and doesn’t really affect the gameplay negatively most of the time (on occasion it does), but it’s an odd thing to behold.
Another issue I found with the game is the create-a-player mode. While not really a big deal, in this day and age we should have more options when it comes to making our own avatars. The customization options in the game, while not necessarily limited, are pretty ugly, making avatars look sub-par and weird. Still, it isn’t that big an issue.
Theres a lot of replay value to be had in this game. While Exhibition and Career Mode will see the most play, they are still plenty of gameplay options, such as MyTeam, where players assemble a team of players and play online to achieve #1 seed on the Road to the Playoffs, The Association, where players micromanage everything from games to players, NBA: Creating a Legend, where players can choose a star and play him on any team of their liking, and more. And then there’s online multiplayer, where players can play alongside friends, or compete against others. The online coding is good, so there is no hiccups during intense online matchups.
While NBA 2K13 is more of the same, with only a few new additions, – most notable the inclusion of executive producer Jay Z – the game is still a blast to play. With solid controls, great gameplay, excellent presentation and a whole lot of stuff to do, NBA 2K13 is the best basketball game to date. If you love the sport, you can’t afford to miss this game.