NBA 2K13 Review (PlayStation 3)

good
key review info
  • Game: NBA 2K13
  • Platform: Playstation 3
  • Reviewed on:
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Basketball stars

I knew I made it when, after one of the biggest matches of the season, I got no negative Twitter messages from the fans, despite a performance that, by the standards of superstars like LeBron or Kobe Bryant, was rather mediocre.

NBA 2K13 is a basketball simulation at its core, but the game, without competition this year once again, adds a lot of extra bells and whistles to the game, including a strong social media angle, in an effort to make the player care not only about shots and dribbles, but also about sneaker endorsements and fan reaction to games and public statements.


Story

NBA 2K13 is a deeply ambitious video game, one that aims to take the entire world of competitive basketball and squeeze it into an easy to pick up and play video game experience.

The series from 2K Games has always been ambitious and, this year, the core elements of the game are already familiar to the fans, which means that the developers can concentrate on re-creating the feeling of the sport, which has always been something difficult to pin down.
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Training session
Game start
Rather than emphasizing the rivalries between the various teams and players and after making the past a core feature during previous installments, the developers have chosen to make the lifestyle represented by the NBA the core element of NBA 2K13.

The fact that hip-hop superstar Jay-Z was brought in as a producer was a masterstroke and the game has the swagger of his music, both when it comes to the choices for the soundtrack and when it comes to the idea that beauty, skill and wealth have an attraction of their own, regardless of the sport or the business built around it.


Gameplay

Visual Concepts certainly understands the importance of variety of a game like NBA 2K13, even though the main screen of the game suggests that the player is basically forced to create a character and then start a Career-based game.

Those who want more need to press Circle on their controller in order to discover what else the game has to offer, from Association, which basically puts the player in the suit jacket of a team manager rather than the sweaty shirt of the player, to 3 versus 3 street matches and the various multiplayer modes.
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Passing grade
Face time
All of them are interesting and well developed and the game makers have also made an effort to give players options when it comes to both the difficulty of the modes and the time they have to play them.

Impatient gamers can choose to just play through the most important moments of a season if they wish and those who don’t like to grind in order to get their player up to speed can always choose to start a Career playing as the leading scorers of the real-world NBA.

Most NBA 2K13 will get a Career going with a rookie and that means getting used to something that video games rarely simulate well: mediocrity.

Initially created characters will spend time on the bench and have a tendency to underperform when called upon on the court, with practice and game time required for them to improve their abilities and become an important part of a team.

There’s a lot of authenticity here, something that other simulations, like FIFA 13, tend to lack and the fact that players often perform poorly is masked by proper use of the spectacle that drives much of the modern NBA.



The presentation of NBA 2K13 is almost indistinguishable from that of a real-world competitive match between top players, with a lot of dancing, crowd shots and workers cleaning the court between plays.

The biggest difference is the amount of skill and effort required to get a solid performance on the court, because elite real-world players make the game of basketball feel light and easy, with either grace or power masking the hours of effort they put in training and tactics.

In NBA 2K13, there’s nothing to mask how hard it is to do well and at first, I did poorly because I was unaccustomed to the control scheme and because my timing was always off, but putting hours into the game will make almost anyone competitive, if not a superstar.

It took a lot of play time and some careful experimenting to understand exactly how to use the right stick and even after all of that, the computer-controlled players were more graceful and more capable, which made the game a little frustrating.

Gamers need to be careful about how their distribute their VC points, earned for basically any action in the Career mode, because some of the skills they can acquire seem to clash a little with one another.

Those who aim to improve their performance also need to study the list of Signature moves the game offers.

One drawback of NBA 2K13 is that the constant saving and loading sequences make the experience seem a little disjointed.


Graphics and audio

There are precious few games that have the ability to surprise in the current console life cycle at this moment, but NBA 2K13 manages to introduce a few upgrades over the game launched last year, including better-looking player faces.

There are still some issues with some movements and the way the players move their bodies on the court, but the game is fast and engaging enough that it never feels like a real problem.

One of the areas that is greatly improved is the pre-game presentation, which benefits from well produced videos and tracks chosen by Jay-Z and does a lot to create actual excitement for the coming game action.

The commentary for NBA 2K13 comes courtesy of Kevin Harlan, Steve Kerr and Clark Kellogg and it shows how a dedicated team can put together a sound background that does not become irritating or repetitive in the long term, like that of FIFA 13.

The soundtrack is also well suited to the game and Jay-Z shows that he understands how music and basketball are intertwined in modern America and knows how to deploy songs to generate excitement and emotion.


Multiplayer

NBA 2K13 is mainly designed as a single-player game, but those who want interaction with other humans can get into an online Association mode, which allows them to act as managers and try to win a virtual league against other players, or engage in quick matches that allow them to use the player they are using in Career mode.
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Green versus white
Stat game
NBA 2K13 also introduces something called MyTeam, a mode that’s similar to Ultimate Team for FIFA and allows gamers to use game currency or real-world money in order to mix players and tactics and then challenge their friends.


The Good

  • New Jay-Z inspired presentation
  • Right stick moves
  • Incredible depth

The Bad

  • Sluggish at times
  • Difficulty curve

Conclusion

With the Live series from EA Sports still missing in action due to quality problems, NBA 2K13 is the only option for the basketball fan that wants to complement watching games with some virtual recreations of seasons.

The developers and publisher 2K Games could have taken this as a sign that they can breathe a little and put less effort into the game, but there’s a clear improvement, both in terms of presentation and in terms of gameplay, over the previous title in the series.

This might be the final outing for the NBA franchise on the current generation of consoles and there’s enough quality here to keep fan entertained for years if they fail to switch to the new devices from Microsoft or Sony.

Newcomers to the series will need time before they become skilled on the court, but the price of admission is smaller than the joy that NBA 2K13 can deliver to a basketball fan.
 

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story 8
gameplay 8
concept 9
graphics 7
audio 9
multiplayer 6
final rating 7.5
Editor's review
good
 

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