System: Xbox 360 (also on PS3, PC, Wii, Wii U, PSP, iOS, and Android)
Genre: Sports (Basketball)
Publisher: 2K Sports
Developer: Visual Concepts
Release Date: October 2, 2012
I have a confession to make: I’m a basketball junkie. I love the sport, and if I were to let myself go, I could easily watch/play basketball all day, every day. This love of the game extends to 2K Sports’ NBA 2K series, and I have to force myself *not* to buy the game every year simply because I know I will play nothing else for quite some time. In the last entry I played, NBA 2K11, I became hooked on the Association mode, even going so far as to play all 82 games of the first season (8 minute quarters) and then a good chunk of the next. For me, nothing beats taking over a struggling team (in my case, my hometown Detroit Pistons) and restoring them to their glory days.
Because I get hooked on sports games too easily, I avoided purchasing NBA 2K13 for as long as possible. It wasn’t until a recent Xbox Live sale that I couldn’t resist any longer — how could I pass up the latest basketball game for just $30?
The first and most noticeable difference with 2K13 is that Jay-Z’s fingerprints are all over the game, at least in terms of presentation. The soundtrack is comprised mostly of Hov and his buddies (i.e. Kanye West and Coldplay), and his name is plastered all over the menus. It seems like a marketing ploy, but I have no complaints with it.
NBA 2K13 also introduces a new concept that shakes the core gameplay at its roots: Virtual Currency (VC). This is similar to a conventional XP system, as every game you play, no matter the mode, will earn you VC based on your performance. This currency can in turn be used to purchase upgrades for whatever mode you like. It comes especially handy in the RPG-like MyPlayer mode since VC is used to upgrade personal attributes (i.e. 3-point shooting, rebounding, etc.).
The fact that this system is tied together throughout every mode encourages you to try out every aspect of the game. This worked out wonderfully for me, as I have been putting most of my playing time into MyPlayer, a mode I have neglected in the past.
The great thing about MyPlayer mode is that it is basically a sports RPG. You create a player the way you see fit, then take control of him through his entire NBA career while earning upgrades along the way. Upset about your playing time? Feel free to complain to your general manager. Want to go to a different team entirely? Talk to your boss again and let him know — you may very well get your wish. This mode is completely immersive, as not only are there ties to social media (complete with a faux Twitter timeline), but after every game you partake in a brief, one question press conference.
Being able to answer questions however you want is a nice touch, even if the dialogue is sometimes laughable. Sometimes my character would take on a completely different tone in his response other than what I intended, not unlike the notoriously off-kilter dialogue in LA Noire. The conversations with the GM are often ridiculous, too, leading to some unintentional hilarity.
Pretty much every other major mode is back as well, including the improved Association, which now allows you to start a season on that very day (i.e. right now) rather than just defaulting to the beginning of the year. There is one new mode that stands out — MyTeam, which is basically 2K’s answer to EA’s Ultimate Team mode.
In MyTeam, you build a team from the ground up by purchasing packs of cards. Each pack gives you a random set of players, jerseys, skills, coaches and playbooks. These are in turn used to improve your team, and you can buy/sell individual cards using VC in order to do so. It’s a fun little mode, even though it doesn’t feel as polished as that found in FIFA 13.
With so many modes and ways to play, there is never a shortage of options in NBA 2K13. Unfortunately, there are a number of bugs that mar certain aspects of the game. For one, no matter how many times I tried, I could not join an Online Association. The fact that this is an issue five months after the game’s release is inexcusable. I also ran into frequent lag during online games, occasionally losing a connection entirely. I know this isn’t a problem on my end either.
There are also some truly bizarre gameplay glitches that pop up from time to time. The most prevalent — and annoying — for me was the sudden loss of the score overlay. This happened in every mode I played, and it seemed to be triggered by pushing “X” through the cutscenes/replays. Not being able to view the game score, let alone how much time is left on the clock, is a huge disadvantage. I cannot fathom how this bug hasn’t been fixed yet.
The fact that these glitches are still present is frustrating, but there’s no denying that there is still a fantastic basketball experience underneath. The audio/visual presentation is still second to none, and the commentary from Kevin Harlan, Clark Kellog and Steve Kerr is the best out of any sports game, period.
Even with the lack of competition from EA Sports, NBA 2K13 is still delivering the goods year after year. This is another must play for basketball fans, even if it could have been cleaned up a bit.