NBA 2K13 ReviewMatt Andrews
Do you ever glance at your old consoles and reminisce about the countless hours spent playing EA Sports NBA Live? Yeah, neither do I. 2K Sports has had a lock on the console basketball simulation market for some time now, and after last year's stellar performance in NBA 2K12 fans can only wonder how 2K13 can outdo its predecessor. Well if Jay-Z's name and not one but three NBA All-Stars sharing the cover isn't enough to grasp your interest, here's Realm of Gaming's review of NBA 2k13 for the PlayStation 3.
When you crack the seal of NBA 2k13 you will first be tasked with deciding where to start. 2K Sports has absolutely loaded this installment in the series, offering major bang for your buck. In addition to the requisites, NBA 2K13 offers a MyPlayer which includes both online and offline play, MyTeam, The Association, and even 1v1 up to 5v5 street hoops.
Unfortunately, as has become a trend in 2K Sports games, the menus will not make getting where you'd like to be easier, but hey, we're much more concerned with what's there once you do navigate several different formats of menus.
The depth NBA 2K13 boasts is consistent within each of the many game modes. The Association, NBA 2k13's franchise mode may be the most thorough ever developed. Players will have expectations and must have their role on your team outlined at the start of each season. Fail to get your stud the minutes and points he expects and his ratings will suffer. Bench a starter and his attitude will negatively affect not just his play but the chemistry of the whole team. The off season will allow armchair GMs to spend hours upon hours scouting prospects, even allowing you to scrimmage with two teams of prospects like a test run before you spend your first round pick on them. Contract negotiation is ultra realistic and players will respond differently to large signing bonuses and long-term deals. All of the above can be quickly simulated allowing you to breeze through anything you find tedious. A simulation feature unique to the regular season and playoffs allows you to micromanage games that you've decided to simulate, allowing you to call timeouts and make substitutions but not allowing you to actually play the closing minutes of a one possession game. All in all, a more complete franchise mode of play has never been assembled under one title.
We all know how much social media, marketing, all around style have been infused into the NBA. 2K Sports has included all of these elements and many more in this installment. MyPlayer mode is one quickly becoming a requisite for sports games, allowing players to create a player and progress through an entire career playing only as that player. MyPlayer gameplay nicely incorporates off the ball contributions, and during each game players will be assessed on their play as a teammate in addition to their personal performance, highlight plays, and completing coach's requests to shutdown an opposing scorer or take care of the ball. 2K13 includes in its my player mode interactive postgame conferences and sit downs with the GM. The social media element allowing rising stars to track their fan base, receive shout-outs from NBA players, legends, and celebrities, while other aspects of MyPlayer include a shoe and clothing collection, practice drills, training sessions with NBA legends, even the option to take the team out to dinner or work at a charity event. Again, the depth is impressive, though some of the side features lack the quality seen in the primary gameplay.
I don't make a habit of judging games by their manuals nor should you but seven full pages of controls are impossible to ignore. NBA 2K13 deserves considerable commendation for its incredible depth not just in features but within the core gameplay itself. For gamers who haven't played a recent 2K Sports game, the depth may be daunting, but the system of controls contains a simple enough foundation that lends to its pick-up and play ability. On the contrary, those players who choose to spend time with the game may never stop learning the ways to tweak dribble moves and shots, now both controlled by the right stick. In coordination with the outstanding controls are accurate physics, a realistic sense of pace to the game, and of course all the flare of our favorite NBA teams stadiums and stars. It's not a stretch at all to say that NBA2k13 contains the finest basketball simulation gameplay console gamers have ever seen.
The game excels as much in aesthetics as it does in its simulation play. Player renderings, especially the legends included in the game, are very well done, and your favorite arenas, all true to the real thing, are probably more beautiful in the game than they are in real life. Prepare yourself for heavy doses of Jay-Z, but the production crew did an outstanding job with pregame festivities, crowd intensity levels, an ultra-realistic halftime report, and of course shameless advertisement throughout. Finally, expect the dominant players of the league to appropriately reflect their level of skill in the game. Cavaliers fans will be happy to know that after dropping 30 points early in a game, LeBron James will struggle to sore in the fourth quarter. All sarcasm aside, NBA 2K13 does an outstanding job of looking, sounding, and feeling like the NBA during and between games.
Despite these successes the review must go on, and it is unfortunate because as eluded to earlier, many aspects of the game stick out like sore thumbs compared to the quality of the primary gameplay. Any game with the depth of NBA 2K13 is susceptible to faltering in some aspects, and NBA 2K13 was unable to deliver top-shelf quality on all counts. Voice acting in postgame conferences borders on amateurish, the practice drills that are instrumental to the MyPlayer mode define redundancy and what's worse is that they, like every feature of NBA 2K13 are hindered by excessive loading, autosaving, and of course the painful menu system. If you love games that allow character development and long term progress you'll find that in NBA 2K13, but flaws like only being able to perform one practice drill at a time with loading before and after each session will at least double the time investment. It's flaws like these that keep NBA 2K13 from earning our highest marks.
Inevitably, every NBA fan will find something to love in NBA 2K13. The game includes too many truly enjoyable game modes and features to mention in one review, and the overwhelming depth throughout almost merits a full review of each. NBA 2k13 absolutely leaves room for improvement, much of which seems to be in very basic aspects of the game. However, it cannot be ignored that this game is the best NBA simulation ever released, is undoubtedly the most thorough, and is arguably the most accurate recreation of the NBA's style and atmosphere to hit console gaming. NBA 2K13 by 2K Sports is a must own game for any fan of the league or the series.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.