Company: 2K Games
Platform: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Wii, PC (Reviewed on Xbox 360)
Buy on Amazon
Another year and another stellar installment of the NBA 2K franchise. This year’s edition gets the added flair of some involvement from hip-hop superpower Jay-Z, labeled as Executive Producer as well as the addition of the 1992 and 2012 Olympic teams. Is that enough to outshine 2K12 and its classic superstar modes or will 2K13 leave you wishing that P-Diddy were Executive Producer so that you could listen to that one song from the Godzilla soundtrack over and over again?
I’m going to start off by going on a tangent about the whole Jay-Z Executive Producer thing. Other than it being his decision to add the Olympic teams and his choice of the terrible songs on the soundtrack, I really don’t see much difference in presentation over 2K12. He gets an opening clip, but the fundamental elements of the games presentation in general is almost exactly the same. I think that this was just a way to add a name on the package in hopes of garnering some sales. I think this idea would have been more interesting if they decided to get someone like Michael Jordan or Dewayne Wade’s input on game presentation or actual gameplay. I have nothing against Jay-Z personally but I just find this hype unnecessary.
So, other than the magic touch of Jay-Z, what else is different about 2K13? There are some minor tweaks to the My Player mode now labeled My Career. You can now negotiate contracts, speak to the GM about issues that you are having with the team, the coach, a certain player, playing time, etc. There are also some changes to the online franchise mode as well as the addition of the My Team mode where you construct teams from player cards that you purchase in game with 2K funbucks. Gone are the classic player challenges and in-game unlocks as well as the retro games and presentations. I thought that the classic games and their presentation were some of the coolest things I’ve ever encountered in a sports game as a gamer.
The biggest change in 2K13 comes with the new uses for the right analog stick. It appears that 2K has borrowed that from the EA basketball games. Now instead of using it to tweak shots it now controls dribbles, special moves and all sorts of gameplay elements. The controls are fairly hard to master with just one analog stick and the buttons and I feel that the additional use of the right stick complicates things more than it makes them easier. I’ve had issues with the sensitivity of the stick when trying to perform one move, but getting another. It’s not a game breaker, but it will definitely need some tweaking later on down the line.
While NBA 2K13 is still an excellent NBA sim, the bar was set way too high with what 2K Games did with 2K12. Being a plain old white dude that isn’t that into modern rap and hip-hop music, the addition of Jay-Z doing whatever he did and his choice of soundtrack songs was a departure from the classic feel of the presentation and soundtrack of 2K12. I prefer Dr. J over Jay-Z any day. Having the Olympic teams from ’92 and ’12 was a neat addition, but what about the rest of the Olympic teams since then? Most of the rosters were made up of star players from both eras anyway so why not go all out? The tweaks to My Career/My Player really add to that mode and it has quickly become my favorite go to mode not only to play as my created player, but to simulate his career and see his rise to fame. The addition of actual shoe brands, especially the retro Air Jordans is also a cool touch.
I think that 2K13 has some great strides towards improving the gameplay and loading up the player with a ton of content, but I think that some things like the analog stick moves need some more time to develop more in context to the current gameplay set up. They’re definitely not afraid to stir things up and keep things fresh year after year. I’m looking forward to what’s in store for 2K14. Until then, my player has championships to win!
Bottom Line: There are more than enough tweaks and plenty of new content to merit purchasing NBA 2K13, but be warned that if you enjoyed the legends mode/match-ups of last year then you’ll be disappointed. There should have been more than two Olympic teams included and the right analog controls take some time to get used to, but you can play without it easily and with no negative repercussions.
Favorite Aspects: The expanded My Career mode and the Dream Team from 1992 complete with Scottie Pippen, online play is much improved.