For basketball fans, October means NBA training camp and a countdown to the start of the regular season. It also means the release of NBA 2K13, which is now available for PS3 and Xbox 360. As details have trickled out on improvements to the franchise, we've tried to keep you up-to-date on STACK Gamer. Now that the game has come out, here's our full review of NBA 2K13.
Executive Producer Jay-Z is everywhere, from the music videos spliced in with the opening montage for games, to the influence he had on the menu, to the elaborate designs surrounding the 2K logo on the bottom of the screen. The soundtrack he picked is great, full of popular hip hop that fits perfectly in the in-game arena PA sound. The first time "Shook Ones, Part II" comes on, you'll nod in agreement.
Legendary teams are unlocked from the first time you put the game in your console, and they can finally be taken online from the start. They include classic Bulls, Hornets, Magic and Lakers teams from years past, along with more recent teams, like AI's '00-'01 Sixers. The addition of VC (Virtual Currency) allows you to earn points for different game modes. MyCAREER mode has been upgraded with more customization options; and the deepest franchise mode in video games, The Association, now allows you to control the way you sim games. Set your number one scoring option, your offensive tempo and whether or not you crash the boards. 2K13 also introduces MyTEAM, which lets you acquire better players through micro-transactions to build your own super team.
Other hoops-head details include the extremely deep shoe creator. 2K13 features real-life offerings from performance brands, including kicks from Nike, Reebok, adidas, Converse, Under Armour and Spalding. You can make your own shoes and even order them through NIKEiD for use in the real world. The game includes the original 1992 Dream Team and offers DLC for a full NBA All-Star Weekend, two kinds of icing on the cake for an already sweet product.
One of the best things about NBA 2K13 is the way the game looks. It's extremely similar to a broadcast TV presentation. Once you navigate the menus and start an actual game, you notice glossy presentations that rival a real NBA broadcast on TNT or ESPN. Different graphics packages for starting lineups, pre-game animations and the build-up to the opening tip are realistic, and the atmosphere is noticeably different in playoff games versus the regular season. Authentic camera angles, on-court celebrations and player interactions add to the feeling that you're watching a real game. The in-between animations, tiny details and physics tweaks are where the game really shines.
Realistic commentary from Kevin Harlan enhances the experience, especially in Association Mode. He kills time during free throws the same way a real broadcaster would, or he'll discuss a team's recent struggles or success. These kind of details set a higher bar for sports video games.
Last year's iso-motion dribbling controls were extremely complicated to master, and thankfully 2K Sports has gone to a more simplified dribbling control for this year's game. Dribbling still isn't easy—you need to know how to play basketball to master the game—but it's realistic without being frustrating. The biggest change to gameplay is the addition of Signature Skills, which helps differentiate between types of players. Having 31 classifications means, for example, that spot-up shooters have an easier time knocking down open jumpers and pick-pocket defenders get a small boost in certain defensive situations. There's also considerably more weight to the players on the court this year. You won't be able to glide around jamming turbo back and forth without turning the ball over. Players seem to lurch, stride or sprint, depending on factors like their weight and leg length. You'll see less wonky animations and more smooth gameplay.
After the cancellation of NBA Live (formerly NBA Elite), this is the only pro basketball game in town. Fortunately for basketball fans, it's a great one. The commentary is, as always, exceptional. The soundtrack has plenty of current songs, so hearing them over the loudspeaker during games adds authenticity. And the deepest franchise mode in the business returns loaded with realistic touches.
NBA 2K13 is a must-play for basketball fans and gamers alike. You can order your copy on 2K's website today.