You find yourself deep into the fourth quarter with hardly any time left on the clock. The inside of the D is swarmed with opposition and teammates. Your team is only one point down with seconds left to play and a layup, dunk or mid-range jump shot would be enough to win. You decide to go for the layup and as you weave in and out of your opponents reach, you notice out of the corner of your eye one of the opposition coming towards you. This member of the opposition challenges you as you attempt a layup and as it looks as though the game is won, this player blocks the ball and they win the game. This player which has cost your team the victory has had some very good history, often playing unopposed but not making much progress in the market until last year. This player is NBA 2K13 and for the past few years it has been the best basketball game in the market. NBA 2K13 is released 5th October in Europe and was released 2nd October in North America.
From the moment you start the game, you can tell how much the games presentation has been influenced by world renowned rapper, businessman and part owner of the Brooklyn Nets Jay-Z as 2K Sports drafted the rap superstar to be an Executive Producer for this game. The colour scheme and overall feel for the presentation has a royal feel to it as the main colour in the menus seems to be gold. This does not feel overwhelming though and is reminiscent of the colour scheme from the album collaboration with Kanye West, Watch the Throne. Jay-Z has called on the support from some of his favourite artists to feature on the soundtrack including Kanye West, Coldplay, U2, Rihanna and of course HOVA himself. The graphics have improved since the previous game as faces seem more defined, especially the My Player game faces.
When you peel away the decorative overwrap, NBA 2K13 is a competitive and accomplished basketball experience, building on the success of the core gameplay which featured in last year’s title. The control of the players feels more realistic with timing awareness being crucial to controlling and exploiting the opposition’s decisions. The opposition, both computer and human-controlled, can now react quicker as well, especially to fast-break attacks. For those familiar with 2K12, there is a new control system for when you are in possession of the ball. The right stick is now used for tricks to fool your opponent and gain the extra space you need to shoot or pass. To set the controlled player for a layup, the left trigger (for Xbox 360) has to be held in (right trigger also has to be held in for a dunk) and the right stick has to be pushed forward. For those already familiar with the NBA 2K games, it may take a few games to get used to but is not a major change to what has been used previously. X (for Xbox 360) can still be used for shooting also, it is only when using the right stick that shooting has changed. A great feature which has been included into games is the replay features for monstrous slam dunks. As well as the Sprite Slam Cam making a welcomed comeback and the commentary team being colourful and vocal as ever when a spectacular dunk is performed, within the Sprite Slam Cam there is a feature which shows how far the player has jumped off the ground which is a small but great feature.
Previous NBA 2K titles have featured an in-depth and exciting custom player mode entitled My Career where you create your own virtual player, you are prompted to do this at the start, and induct him into the Hall of Fame. The features in your player career have been improved for this year’s game and takes personalising to another level. You can customise how your player looks on court, off the court and in the new game mode, Blacktop. Social Media now features directly with your player as you can see fans and media reactions to how you play in any game you play in. This Social Media aspect only features in the My Player mode and isn’t reflected on your real life Twitter. Each game presents different challenges to face such as make 50% of shots or bring your team back to within 10 points. This game mode is one of the finest points of NBA 2K13 and is the best career mode I have experienced in any sports game ever. You can’t seem to put it down. You always want to make your player better.
To make your player better or change the way they play, you need to spend virtual credits. Virtual credits can be earned via any game mode in the game. With every game you play whether its via quick play, online or career mode you can earn virtual credits to spend on your player as well as unlockables and also in the new My Team mode. As well as My Player, you can view your stats from your all time history which provides all the information on the previous exhibition game you had played as well as the top stats for players you have used so you can see which team you have selected the most or which player you have been most successful with.
Two new game modes can be found in the latest NBA title and these include Blacktop and My Team. Blacktop is a street game which you can customise from 1v1 all the way to a full 5v5 game. It’s very enjoyable and takes some of the pressure off the high intensity games in Exhibition and Career. My Team is a new feature which allows you to fully customise a team and can feature whichever players you can afford. New players, coaches, stadiums and jerseys can be purchased using virtual coins and only virtual coins. Your team starts from the bottom and as you get more coins, you can make your team better and challenge other teams online or play other team’s offline which have had the same mix and match treatment. When you compare the My Team mode to other games modes you can see what they have attempted to do and I’m sure it will be improved on in future but with the virtual coins being able to spend them everywhere, it may be better to save your coins for elsewhere. It is promising from 2K13 to include this game mode but falls short to that of My Career’s star status. The regular game modes apply including Season, Association and Playoffs.
NBA 2K13 also takes social media interaction to the next level as well as featuring posts on NBA 2K13’s behalf on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to show off your highlights, you can now earn virtual credits through social media to spend in the game. NBA 2K13 has released a mobile phone app available for the iPhone which contributes coins and other unlockables to your 2K account. Facebook also features a game app which adds coins to your 2K account so you can gain virtual coins wherever you go.
NBA 2K13 also features Kinect features for the Xbox 360 version. The Kinect understands voice commands for substitutions, plays and time outs. For me, the Kinect feature was very unreliable. The Kinect is not meant to be far away from the television but the game continued to pick up noise from the game when I didn’t want it to. As a result, a few time-outs were called unnecessarily. It is very frustrating at times.
At this time of year, it is certainly easy to overlook games with the sheer amount that are being paraded online, via television and in the media. I believe that with all these Triple-A titles that will be coming out soon, NBA 2K13 can rival all of them as this game is a great combination of fantastic and addictive gameplay with presentation and features, both offline and online, to keep you playing the game until 2K14 is released. If I were providing a time-out team talk, I would suggest that the Kinect be dropped as well as some refinements to My Team mode be made. Aside from these inconveniences, NBA 2K13 should be a high priority game to play on your wish list.
NBA 2K13 is available now for Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Wii and coming soon for Wii-U.