2K Sports has delivered the most critically acclaimed basketball videogame on current-generations systems three years in a row, and still they find NBA 2K13 on the receiving end of a diminishing audience in Europe. Through no fault of their own, basketball videogames are often relegated behind more action-orientated experiences; virtual representations of worlds more interesting than our own rather than one specific part of it. However, fans of the sport who dip in regularly have spoken of their appreciation for the finer aspects of the NBA 2K loudly, and here in NBA 2K13 their demands have not gone unheeded.
For some strange reason, NBA 2K13’s biggest selling point has been decided to be the involvement of rapper extraordinaire Jay-Z. Billed as Executive Producer, to exactly what degree Mr. Z was actually involved in the production of NBA 2K13 may never be known outside of 2K Games, but the packaging claims he had his fingers on more pies than just the soundtrack, touching on in-game presentation and the ‘overall style of the game’ also. To what end the involvement of a professional vocalist – a purely aural talent – will be of a benefit to NBA 2K13 is not exactly clear, but that’s not to say the presentation of the videogame is bad. Not by any means.
Instead however, Electronic Theatre would like to suggest that the biggest advancement would be the use of the right analogue stick in combination with the move modifier on the left trigger. A variety of manoeuvres is available via analogue input, including fakes and cancels, while added precision and defence can be added by performing the same action while holding the left trigger. It’s a simple addition that is far more effective than Fight Night’s Total Punch Control, despite being based on the same principles of adapting real-world manoeuvres to an inch high thumbstick.
The MyCareer mode is NBA 2K13’s core experience, using the player created in the MyPlayer creation suite to play through an extensive career mode starting with your very first professional match, through signing with a major team and on to winning trophies. It’s a comprehensive and thoroughly enjoyable experience that will undoubtedly command most of your attention span for the duration of your time with NBA 2K13, and rightly so as it is the videogame’s most in-depth examination of the sport, despite the awkward results of the character creation suite.
MyPlayer character creation is very limited at first, with near every option only adding to the Frankenstein’s monster that you will inevitably generate. However, new accessories become available later thanks to the on-game currency, VC. VC is earned in all gameplay modes and works as an overall currency for purchase of new items, from character accessories to new teams in the MyTeam mode.
The MyTeam mode allows you to create a dream team from players accessed via purchasable players and booster packs, presenting a playing card style gameplay mode in which your collection can be used to win matches. It’s an interesting addition for sure, and one which comes into its own when taken online and played with similarly minded friends also building their own collection.
The technical quality of NBA 2K13 is a strange assortment of pushing forward and regression, as while the frontend, stadium and menu design is fantastic, the skin textures appear significantly behind the times. The animation is well produced, but the character models being animated leave a considerable amount to be desired. The soundtrack is of course flawless, as you might hope given Jay-Z’s input, and the voice acting is also of a noteworthy quality.
As the latest title in the series of critically acclaimed, genre defining releases, NBA 2K13 does of course include all the mod cons: local and online multiplayer, customisable league tables and optional Kinect based gameplay. All of these aspects are well produced, but fail to outshine the MyCareer mode. Just as it should be, NBA 2K13 is the definitive product for fans of the NBA league system. Complete with constantly updated information on the association – including the next match highlighted (and playable) on the main menu – and near every team, player and stadium included it’s no wonder that 2K Games’ sports label has earned the reputation of being the current leader in the field.