NBA 2K13 Review

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NBA 2k13 is the only basketball game on the market. With that in mind, you would think that 2K Sports would take the lazy way out each year. Not this team, the updates to animation and player personality on court has upgraded significantly. This is the slickest basketball game out there, with players showing off more realism in play than ever before. The future of basketball remains in the hands of 2K Sports, and it doesn’t surprise us that EA cancelled NBA Live after seeing so.

If basketball is your favorite sport, you’re in luck when playing NBA 2K13.  The A.I. makes sure to play as a team this time around. They don’t fumble around nearly as much when making plays, and instead pass the ball appropriately and take shots when necessary. I will go on record to say that the game play changes aren’t extremely different, but they are instantly noticeable to someone who has played the last title. Subtle movement’s like players cleaning their hands on their shorts, or simply stopping to tie their shoes during a free throw attempt. The basis of human animation is officially stepped up on the court.

The much touted soundtrack and production cuts from Jay-Z bring a level of hype to the game. The illustrious business mogul and self-proclaimed greatest of rap music, makes some pretty impressive music selections and video edits during intros. Blazing hits from Jay-Z, Puff Daddy, U2, and Coldplay make up the bulk of the stadium music. Questionably timed jumps during intros bounce along with the music, but sometimes just don’t match up to the action on screen.  They are significantly more detailed when tailored for a team like the Boston Celtics; with a spine chilling showcase of Rajon Rondo’s screaming mouth.

The basics of the user interface remains untouched, and seem even more confusing to navigate this time around. Players will have to backtrack from one option to another to find what they are looking for. A shifting panel moves to and fro from selection to selection, and makes it hard to understand what you are supposed to be looking for. This is applicable to all modes, as players will need the right stick to navigate each menu in-game.

Let’s talk about the modes while we are on the subject. Everything remains relatively untouched from last year, the bulk of the modes have been improved slightly. The most noticeable changes have gone into MyCareer mode. When NBA 2K13 is first booted, players will be given the option to create an account and a MyPlayer version of themselves. Once this is locked in, you no longer have the option of editing this player’s features ever again.

The only way to improve your character is by way of the new monetary spending, “Virtual Currency.” Players can earn Virtual Currency in a variety of ways, from Multi-Player, Exhibition Matches, My Career Mode, MyNBA2K13 (Mobile Game), 2KTheLife (Facebook Game),  and spending real money for the fake.  Virtual Currency is absolutely pivotal to your player’s success in the MyCareer mode. So you’ll be spending a wide assortment of time in different modes trying to make some cash.

MyCareer Mode actually gives the lowest amount of virtual currency. Even if players shoot the lights out and get an excellent grade, it’s more than likely they’ll receive 180 points per game. Players will also earn a salary that gives up a small amount of points, and still are able to do drills to build up this Virtual Currency mark. It’s just a little frustrating when playing early on, as you don’t feel as rewarded with this lower class player who is being devastated by the competition. Create-a-Legend rectifies all of that by using an NBA star’s stats, but the RPG style takes a back seat.

Most assuredly, players will exit the mode to play as many Quick Match online games they can to get points. In fact the point system pretty much ends up being a grind, and an obvious cash cow that 2K decided to drop into the game. It’s a flaw in the system, but there isn’t really a way around it. Regardless, the only real changes to the MyCareer mode are two things: Social Media, and Visiting the General Manager.

A visit to the GM is how the player can make decisions for the team on a higher level. Let’s say you want another player to get a little bit more game time, simply visit the GM and let him know… and if the team wins the next game… he may consider it. You can also complain about teammates, suck up to the coach, and ask for a Trade. It’s nothing really big, you mostly watch some cut-scenes of your player saying stuff and observe the GM responding to it.

Social Media is a way to engage the player about the way they played a previous game. From time to time fans will leave Twitter style feeds for your player to read. Some of them will complain about those boards you didn’t pick up, or how little assists you threw in that last game. Others will compliment you on leading your team to victory, while some will be threats from other players about the next game you attend. It’s interesting to look at all this, but as soon as you realize you can’t actually respond to a single one… it quickly loses its appeal.

Press conferences are still around, but they are relatively the same exact thing from previous games. The only difference is that you’ll see a lot more women appear to ask questions. It’s weird to see the back of a woman’s head while she’s wearing a suit that clearly has broad shoulders in it. I’d say across the board the “off the court” elements need a touch up. It’s very hard not to see a woman with giant hands and broad shoulders fumbling about while she asks your player a question.

The classic modes from 2K11 and 12 are no more, but The Dream Team has been added to the game. Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and even Charles Barkley have come to demolish any team. Well… besides the new Celebrity Team starring Justin Bieber. The ridiculousness of it all is that they are 1 point below in rating compared to the Dream Team. YouTube and Reality TV is just destroying everything that we love isn’t it?

MyTeam is pretty much like playing a card collection game on Facebook. The difference is that you have to play the game instead of winning based solely on stats. It reminds me a lot of Facebook games, with the player having the option to get Booster Boxes and pit their teams against other players. MyPlayer allows players to tailor their character in various clothing types. Game Day, Game Arrival, and Blacktop gear make up the bulk of clothing that the player can wear. Want to look nice in your conference calls, go ahead and put on something pretty, I won’t watch… maybe. Players can even create their own tennis shoes that they purchase from Nike in real life.

The remaining modes haven’t changed at all, but that’s not saying that they were bad in anyway. Online remains silky smooth, and rewards the player with Virtual Currency for each win. Players can take their MyPlayer online with the new Blacktop mode, a 3-on-3 extravaganza vs. other created avatars. Online Multiplayer is silky smooth, and playing against other players is always more of a challenge than destroying the CPU.

My complaints regarding NBA 2K13 have to do with the thing that makes it most realistic. The animation system can actually get in the way of a lot of your actions. I’ve seen my character do some outrageous leans, strips away from the defender, and outright be ignored by fast moving players. It’s the little things like this that can be an annoyance, since some of the faster players will blast free and start layups even if you’re right in front of them.

The collision system doesn’t always detect your player on defense, and just lets the offense slide your avatar around the court. Actually, the collision system is borderline broken in some ways. Your player often forgets that he can push a player aside to get around defense. So while the CPU is running a route they will be near impervious to defense, but they will run an optimal route that usually has the player running through defenders. This can cause you to get stuck on the back your own players, without a chance of pushing out and keeping up with your man. This horribly broken and very noticeable problem needs to be corrected in the next game.

The animation can cause an outright disconnect between the user and the video game. I’ve had my character that’s all the way at the 3 point line, suddenly slide forward so that the defender can put a hand up and block them. It makes defending a chore at points, as the higher rated players have easier opportunities of becoming untouchable. While your character will suddenly start missing 3’s, or lose the ball constantly because the CPU is willing It behind the scenes.

MyPlayer still has the story mode style of gameplay, and the CPU will often turn into brainless twits in the later quarters. I’ve seen them toss the ball in and simply walk out of bounds, or fumble a wide open pass only so I could be penalized by the mistake. It’s outrageous how pathetic the team will become so that the CPU can catch up to make a “dramatic” game occur. NBA 2K needs to stop this roll of the dice basketball mechanic; it’s not a challenge if I know the game is cheating to offer me one.

Another big issue is that you have to always be online to earn Virtual Currency. I know this is some way to stop people from cheating and getting tons of it in some hack, but even if you’re disconnected in the 4th quarter with 30 seconds left. If you don’t find a way to sign back in, the game just outright ignores the time you spent trying to receive currency. It’s pretty ridiculous… and I feel sorry for anyone who has a bad connection or well… doesn’t have one at all.

NBA 2K13 is still the King of basketball, and I don’t think any competitors could have defeated this year. The basketball dynamic has never been more realistic, and 2K continues to up their game every iteration. NBA 2K13 receives a B from Half-Ass Gaming; the improved animations have us all sold… but let’s see if the modes can receive a bit more treatment next year.