Dear 2K Games,
Just a quick note to say that seriously, the NBA 2K series needs to run out of steam already. It’s making every other sports sim look bad. Honestly, come on 2K, give the rest a chance yeah? Not only have you set the standard for every other sporting videogame adaptation on the market, you’ve also crushed the closest competition you had, with EA finally throwing in the towel and cancelling their NBA live series for the past two years because quite simply, you’ve wiped the hardwood with them. On top of all this, you’ve still managed to improve your game each and every year, taking the very bar you raised yourself and somersaulting over it where others break their backs just trying to limbo under. It’s not fair, and you should be ashamed.
A devoted fan.
Such is as a possible letter might read should I actually take the time to write to the developers of what has fast become one of the finest sports series in games today.
Where many sports sims come under constant scrutiny for rehashing the same tried and tested formula each and every year, the NBA 2K series is one that constantly makes the extra effort to evolve, to better itself, to constantly introduce new ideas and innovative techniques in order to give long running fans of the series a reason to dig deep into their wallets each and every occasion.
So enters NBA 2K13 into the fray, produced by Jaz-Z, with more pressure than ever to out-do itself yet again, stacked firmly on its shoulders.
So what’s new in this year’s version? Well for starters, it’s produced by Jay-Z. Also, the right analogue now becomes more gloriously known as the “Dribble Stick”, switching from simple shot precision into total ball control, and allowing much more freedom of movement and creative means of getting from one spot to another. Admittedly, this might take seasoned players a little getting used to, and as always in the NBA 2K series, this makes the already complicated controls a little more complicated. But, sticking with it yields unquestionable results, and before long you’ll be penetrating to the rim through even the sturdiest defenses.
Another effective addition, apart from the fact that it’s produced by Jay-Z, is My Career mode, which basically takes the ever popular My Player mode and expands on its premise, granting the ability to control and shape a player’s development right from the early rookie days all the way through to fame and fortune in the NBA. The big change here is that it plays with more RPG like elements, with Virtual Currency earned through in game performance, awarding you points to be spent on character improvements, be them through on-court abilities, or sheer aesthetic appearance. While this makes the mode a little richer, it’s still unfortunately bogged down with bad presentation, the main area I had hoped to see some improvement from last year.
Did I also mention the game was produced by Jay-Z?
Yes, my constant ribbing of his name is the fact that it’s plastered all over the place. On the cover art. In the menus. Everywhere. So much so that it feels forced down your throat. I mean come on, how full of yourself must you be to actually insist on your name smothering a product that at the end of the day, would sell by the bucket load, with or without you? As it stands, this is one of my few gripes about the latest 2K offering, but in all fairness, it does add a little more gloss to an already smooth package, with slick intros and bass heavy beats supplementing the on court action and setting the 2K flavour off like never before.
Jay-Z’s influence (if there’s realistically any at all) is felt mainly within the game’s soundtrack, which is as rhythmic and relevant as always. Graphically too, the game impresses, albeit in the same technical way it always has, with smooth animations and life like player representations. While it’s not visually perfect, it holds up well under the fast paced action that the game of basketball evokes.
With all the game modes on hand, player progression, My Career mode, Legends training, My Team mode, online play and unlockable players and teams from many famed eras of days gone by, as per usual NBA 2K13 has plenty of content to keep you more than busy until next year’s inevitable release. Whether there will be enough quality content next time though is another thing, as it’s getting harder and harder to bring something new to the table, and with the future of EA’s NBA Live series now looking pretty much non-existent, you have to wonder if the lack of competition will take the pressure off of Visual Concepts to the point where they feel they don’t need to try so hard.
But pure speculation is not even worth discussing, and this year’s offering is all that matters in the here and now. And right here, right now, NBA 2K13 is yet another solid outing in a very solid franchise. One of the finest sports titles on the market, regardless of the sport, that will please fans of the series and offer a rewarding challenge to anyone looking for something different, NBA 2K13 isn’t so much a monstrous slam dunk as it is a half court buzzer beater to win a championship game!
8.5/10 – Review by Andy Buckdawg