Rap fans really didn’t need the confirmation but Jay Z reintroduced himself anyway on his standout “Public Service Announcement” track from the Black Album some years back. When I first played NBA 2K13, I got the same feeling I experienced when listening to Hov’s bold boasts on PSA: here is a great basketball video game series that could’ve rested on its laurels this year but instead stepped up its game reminding everyone why it’s on top. Aligning themselves with the aforementioned MC to executive produce the soundtrack, 2K Sports has put out one of the dopest, more engaging sports titles that I can remember in a minute.
While the NBA 2K series has long been my basketball game of choice, I’ve always felt their isomotion system was in need of a face lift and they finally heeded my call this year. Veterans of the series know dribbling moves were mapped to the left stick while advanced maneuvers were pulled off by pulling the triggers. This year the developers mapped the fancy dribble moves to the right stick while still allowing you to shoot with it when the left trigger is held down. In essence the right stick is pulling double duty this year and it will take people used to the old controls some time to get the hang of it. You owe it to yourself to learn the new controls because the plethora of dribble moves available are more intuitive this year than ever before. Other notable improvements are the on-ball defense, passing system (bounce passes are in and overall much crisper than the sluggish passing system that was in 2K12), and the on court player movement of your cpu teammates. This year you’ll see players constantly on the move, no longer just standing around like statues for the duration of the shot clock.
It’s not all good on the hardwood though, as there are a few annoying quirks. First up is the rebounding. Too many times you’ll watch the computer controlled opponent grab offensive rebound, after offensive rebound as your own men seem clueless about how to grab a defensive board. Didn’t seem to matter how highly rated a rebounder I had either, the computer constantly grabbed O boards all game, soundly beating me in that department. Another issue I had, there were some instances of a player pushing the ball handler out of bounds or over the half court line resulting in a back court violation without a foul being called. Those flaws aside, the game play is a step up from last year’s game and they do not detract from the overall experience.
ASSOCIATION MODE OFFLINE/ONLINE
Offline, not much to say here as it’s exactly the same it’s been the last few years. Only difference is 2K mysteriously took out the D-Leagues this year, other than that it’s a carbon copy of what we had in 2K12.
For the online leagues they added the ability for the commissioner to have full control over the league, something that was sorely missed last year. This year the admin can reset games, adjust game play sliders, determine the outcome of matchups and control how fast or slow the season advances.
The three-man broadcasting crew of Kevin Harlan, Steve Kerr and Clark Kellogg return and maintain the quality as you’ve come to expect. The graphics are crisp although they were hit and miss on quite a few of the player faces. The different arenas look really dope and the logo on the Brooklyn Nets court really popped, or course with Hov on board that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Speaking of the Jigga Man, as you already know his finger prints are all over this game as 2k13’s soundtrack plays out like his ipod’s shuffle selection. Any rap enthusiast like yours truly will give the soundtrack a thumbs up, but because of the “E” rating most sports titles carry, they edited the hell out of most of the songs.
ALL STAR WEEKEND MODE
The NBA All Star Weekend mode was only included as a DLC to those that pre-ordered the game, otherwise you’d have to pony up a few bucks if you wanted the extra content. After playing through it a few times, I came away with mixed feelings. You have three modes in the Skills Challenge, Three-Point Shootout and the marquee Slam Dunk Contest. The Skills challenge was just a regular 5 on 5 match, not much to see there. In the Three Point, you used the left trigger to grab the balls and the A button to run to the next rack. I found the controls to be sluggish as there would be a delay before my player would shoot the ball, which severely hampered my ability to get through all the racks before the time ran out. I’d have to jam on the shoot button several times before my player rose to shoot and the shooting animation wasn’t smooth as there was a hitch before he’d release the ball. I found myself having slightly more fun with the Slam Dunk mode, but the lame way the dunks for the user were implemented, killed it for me. Instead of giving you complete control over the type of dunks, a Guitar Hero type menu pops up requiring you to press the correct button/trigger/stick combinations as their respective icons come rolling down the menu bar. What makes it even worse, when the menu comes up your player pauses right as he’s about to lift off, killing the flow of the dunk. I found myself just watching the computer complete the rounds after awhile. 2K should think about giving the user more control over the dunks, perhaps utilizing a similar mechanic to what NBA Live 2005 had for it’s All Star Mode. All in all this mode doesn’t have much replay value.
- Shoe creator: There’s a dope new shoe creator tool that lets you customize up to 45 shoe components. Sneaker heads should have fun with this one.
- MyCareer Mode: The new name for what is the MyPlayer mode. It’s been swagged out this year as you can give your guy Signature Skills and outfit him with custom animations and equipment. They’ve also souped up this mode with the all-new GM sit-down feature (interviews with GMs to see how well your player would mesh with their team), as well as new endorsement paths.
- USA Basketball & Classic Teams: Thanks to the addition of the Dream Team and the 2012 USA Men’s National Team squads, you can virtually settle the debate about who’s superior on the hardwood. The best teams in NBA history are also back, but without some notable omissions. Where the hell is Kareem (86-87 Lake Show, 70-71 Bucks), and C Webb (2000-01 Kings)? I know license agreements, and cheddar negotiations are usually stumbling blocks, but still. Maybe Scottie Pippen took all the money.
- NBA 2K Everywhere: Tweeting that you’re, “in the studio,” or “out here grinding”? No problem. Both the NBA 2K Companion App (iOS, Android) and NBA 2K MyLife on Facebook tie back into the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of NBA 2K13 when you’re out about that life.
While there’s plenty of flash thanks to the Shawn Carter affiliation, it’s the dope game play and slick additions that make NBA 2K13 dominate the paint this year. You have as much control as ever in a basketball video game and combine that with the improved physics and player logic, NBA 2K13 is the closest thing you’ll get to emulating the actual NBA. The only thing missing is fines for player flopping.
BMR RHUDE RATING: 9.0 OUT OF 10