Coming back for a second season with no threat from EA, 2K Sports has just brought NBA 2K13 to the masses. This year’s outing is being executively produced by Jay-Z and his style and influence is evident from the opening loading screen. The 2K series has always been the more simulatory of the two competing titles and this year, 2K Sports seems to go against the old saying of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. So, lace up your kicks, and get ready to ball.
The first major addition to the series is the obvious addition of the rapper Jay-Z to the title. His music is everywhere, and that really isn’t a bad thing as it really seems to flow with every menu and whatever is going on in the game. Numerous times I found myself just letting the music play as I went through menu options creating my, soon to be, basketball superstar. The best way to put it is that having Jay-Z get his hands on the game was a brilliant idea by 2K Sports. Not only the music, but the menu screens, and even the clothing that you can purchase for your created player to wear on and off the court all just ooze the Jay-Z flair.
NBA 2K13 has strayed a little in the control department, as the right stick has become the “dribble stick”. This seems to be an attempt to give the games a little more arcade or streetball feel, and while once you figure out the moves, there is no real direction in how to do them. This is a game that practice really does make perfect, as that is the only real way to master the “Dribble Stick” and master all the different ball handling moves available in the game. But not only is the right stick used for dribble moves, but with the right trigger as a modifier it becomes a shot stick, which opens up many different shot types to use. Right stick use aside, the gameplay is tight and you will soon be running plays like many of your favorite real life NBA stars. In no time I was commanding a fierce fast break or killer pick and roll plays that left the other teams defense in shambles, and left the scoreboard on fire. There is no feeling like breaking off a killer crossover move into a fade-away jumper to sink a game winning buzzer beating shot.
For those that are wanting to start their own NBA career, NBA 2K13 has a revamped career mode that adds a few new wrinkles to the formula. Now, not only do you get to participate in the rookie game and other major events, but you can also have meeting with the GM of your team, which you can express your opinion on the coach, and as well as other topics. This mode has almost an RPG feel, as you can choose answers to questions which influences how the media and your teammates perceive you, based on how nice or how evil you are. That alone makes some of the situations your player is put into downright hilarious.
For the fans of playing the “what-if” game, NBA 2K13 comes loaded with several fantasy teams, including the 1992 Dream Team, and a celebrity team featuring Justin Bieber(gasp). The teams are all very highly rated, and it is a great time playing as the team from the 1992 Olympics. But seriously, Justin Bieber? I already see enough of this crooner thanks to my eight year old daughter, now he is in my NBA 2K13! All jokes aside, the roster is very expansive, and the players look like and perform just like the real life versions. If the real season goes as my in game one went, the LA Lakers will be taking it all this year!
The final addition to this years update is Xbox 360 exclusive, and if you haven’t guessed it already, it is Kinect support. Think of it as just like the Madden 13 Kinect, as you can call plays on the fly, as well as call for subs off of the bench. I even got extremely heated after I missed an open jumper, and the game called a technical foul on the expletive I shouted in my living room. This is a welcome trend that sports games are seeming to take, and it fits perfectly in NBA 2K13.
So, in summary, the additions to NBA 2K13 are all improvements (except for that Bieber kid), and it is a welcome change to have a game that has no apparent competition to still be improving itself year after year. EA should really take a look at what 2K Sports is doing with its NBA franchise, and maybe next year it will be more than a one-horse race.
Audio/Visual – 4.5/5: NBA 2K13 looks and flows like a basketball game should, and with the music that fits it perfectly, there isn’t much room for improvement from 2K Sports
Gameplay – 4/5: With the addition to the “dribble stick” players have the ability to pull of moves seen by the pros, and fell like a pro while doing it. I just wish there was a little more instruction on how to do the moves.
Value – 5/5: Looking at all the extra teams, and all the unlockable items for your created player, fans of the series will be playing for a long, long time.
Innovation – 4/5: With the new “dribble stick” players can master the courts, and the addition of Kinect support for immersion, 2K Sports finds a way to add new wrinkles to a title with no competition from anyone else.
Final Score: 4.5/5