Run, don’t walk, RUN out to buy this game now. Seriously. There is nothing about NBA 2K13 that should drive you away. The 2K sports team have scored again, doing the near impossible by improving upon last year’s title in almost every way. Almost.
After popping in the disc, you will notice from the outset this game is polished. Last year’s entry had a very visceral, almost street feel with the strong rap, hip-hop, and bass tracks, thus having a completely different feel to previous entries. When this game starts, it becomes infinitely apparent that Jay-Z had a lot to do with how you perceive NBA 2K13. The music is complimentary of the menus, and once again chock full of big stars like Rhianna and Kanye West. The visual style of the main screen, the background artwork on the menus, etc. all sort of lend to a smooth, almost tangible sense of refinement rarely seen in games. I often found myself lingering in menus just to finish a song – and let me say, that rarely happens. Additionally, Jay-Z has dropped in some absolutely badass pre-game intros and videos that really hype you up.
Once you get past the initial wow factor of style, you will find that this is one of the most full featured and jam packed basketball titles around. All the usual suspects make their appearance, as you’d expect. MyPlayer is back, as is the season play and such. What game would be complete without an appearance by the Bieber? Yup. He’s in it, leading a team comprised of celebrities. Overall, every mode is just more fleshed out now. In NBA 2K13, you now can meet with the General Manager and “discuss” things with him. As you progress, more discussion topics present themselves, like the ability to demand a trade, demand more playing time, things like that. Pissed off at the coach? Request he be fired. The GM’s responses to your queries are almost as funny as the way you ask them. This adds almost a Mass Effect feel to your career, but it also serves to further engross you in your character progression.
There are little tweaks everywhere for your player, and so far all for the good from what I can tell. You can now pick core skills, several of them to unlock and equip, that round out your player. You can pick a character’s playing styles, shot types, almost anything you can think of. This year you earn VC (virtual currency) to upgrade your player. Let me say this, it will take a long time to earn enough to do some serious improvements unless you are an absolute maestro at this game. I think 2K Sports knew this, as now you can purchase VC with real currency. That’s right; microtransactions are now in the game. All in all though, they took all of the customization from last year’s effort and dropped in a ton more options to give you even more control on how your player grows and plays in the game.
Speaking of playing, this is where NBA 2K13 shines above the previous iteration. Every sports game has scripted animation for your player. Press the button at a certain time, and bang, the player enters into auto mode and runs out a pre-animated layup, or dunk. This year, the game doesn’t take control from you quite so often. One of the most infuriating things about the previous game was the steal attempt. If you attempted a steal, most times it would almost throw you past the offensive ball handler. This year, a steal attempt has a ton more animations, ranging from a gentle swat when standing in front of the dribbler, to a full blown lunge. The good news is that each is scripted and executed well depending on the situation. This same theory applies to the dunks, blocks, anything else that has a complex animation associated with it. It all just flows together and feels very natural. Elsewhere, NBA 2K13 introduces a new method of dribbling the ball though, albeit one that might be a little difficult for some to grasp. Moves can now be performed while handling the ball using the right analog stick. Shooting is accomplished by a combo of L2/R2 and the stick. While you are not required to use the controls, it does lend to the game experience once you get the hang of it.
Honestly, there are just too many little improvements, and large ones for that matter to fully get into them in a short review. This game is massive. It will easily keep even the most hardened player busy until next season. Suffice to say, this is the new bar that any future basketball title is going to be measured against. With a bar set this high, any challengers will have to bring their “A” game to the table to even match it.