I’m not exactly an ideal candidate for being a successful basketball player, I wasn’t too bad at it at school, a bit of a hot-shot when came to Three points shots and I wasn’t that bad at dribbling, but the fact I’m 5 foot 8 gave me a bit too much of a disadvantage. When it comes to playing basketball titles it used to all be about NBA Jam, I dabbled with the next generation titles but could never really get into them, until now. NBA 2K13 is the basketball game worth playing.
The controls have had refinements made to them mainly in the way you dribble and shoot. The right stick now works as a freestyle dribble stick, while holding down the LT will get you set you up for a shot. It certainly takes a bit of getting used to. I found myself forgetting to press LT at the right time and then messing up my chance, eventually I ended up using the X button as it felt a bit more natural. My biggest problem is that as someone relatively new to the series’ introduction to the controls consisted of “Hey you can dribble and shoot using the left stick, move it about and see what happens!” I was then thrown into a match that would determine how I would drafted as I begun my career. There is a huge learning curve for players and it’s a shame that it isn’t addressed very well in the game.
Action on the court is NBA2k13’s strongest point by far, the players look great and their slick animations makes for some great basketball matches, this is supported by the excellent production around the matches, you’ll notice on the cover of the game that Jay-Z has been heavily involved with production and despite my initial concerns he has had a great influence on the game. Each match begins with a music video mixed in with montage action from the game; it sets you up nicely for your match which feels just like watching it live on TV. The commentary is brilliant and seamlessly flows between the main commentary team down to their reporter at courtside; there is constant information about players, managers and their form. It’s a really impressive package, probably better than EA’s presentation in FIFA 13. Jay-Z’s influence extends throughout the game; the soundtrack is awesome so good in fact bands like Coldplay fit perfectly into it. I didn’t appreciate how heavily he was involved with the entertainment side of the game; it’s certainly much more than just a celebrity endorsement. Kinect takes some of the convoluted navigation out of the mix and simplifies the not-so-fun parts of the game such as calling for passes or substitutions.
The main mode in the game is MyCareer, similar to that of FIFA 13 except there is more interaction with your players off court. After creating you future star you take part in the Rookie Showcase giving you a chance to show for your skills to your potential employers, if you perform well, better teams will come after you. Three teams will the give you a pre-draft interview where you can choose one of four answers to the question. It doesn’t flow very well but it’s good to have a bit more interaction with your player.
Eventually you will drafted into a team and it will be up to you to make the most of the time you have on court. Everything you do in your career will earn you Virtual Currency (VC) an in-game cash system. Those credits not only buy better attributes, but are also used to purchase, upgrade, and equip Signature Skills, these boosts will define you as a player, you could become a master of blocking to the point where the shooters attributes reduce for a small amount of time. There are old professionals on hand that provide training camps for you too, they will teach you new moves to take to the court.
As the game progresses you can have meetings with the General Manager to discuss positive or negative points, such as praising or picking on your coach. It all feels a bit like backstage at WWE, setting the stage for becoming a face or a heel. It just all feels a bit bland. You eventually get signed up by a big sports manufacturer which unlocks a load of gear and even gives you the opportunity to customise your kicks. Your chemistry and popularity are all affected by the decision you make and the way you play, a nice features is that between games you can see what your fans are saying about you on Twitter, you can’t tweet but it’s a nice touch. I’m having a lot of fun with MyCareer though considering my ratings each game I’ve clearly got some work to do.
MyTeam is another mode in the game that you could quite easily miss as MyCareer has much more dominance, essentially it’s Ultimate Team, giving you the chance to pull together you team of superstars, you can play matches locally or online against other MyTeams. Unlike FIFA’s version you can’t buy packs with real money, you’ll have to make your way up the ladder through in-game achievement. The value of fluctuates as their season progresses, making it easy to pick up a struggling player cheaply.
If you just fancy shooting some hoops you can do that too with a quick game, all the regular NBA teams are available as well classic teams from the past such as the 00-01 Philadelphia 76ers, the 01-02 Sacramento Kings, and a host of teams from the 90s (including the Run TMC Warriors!). There are some special teams too, such as the 1992 Dream Team, 2012’s Dream Team, and a Celebrity All-Star team, that unfortunately includes Justin Bieber.
My biggest problem with the game has to be the UI, for all the money developers put into these games they always seem to miss the basics. The game has a fair bit of depth so I shouldn’t have to spend my time learning how to get around the menu system. I can’t remember the last time I played a game I loved and hated at the same time. On court the game is truly sublime and one of the best sports simulations about, Jay-Z’s inclusion in the game was an excellent idea but away from that it’s a constant source of frustration. You really need to get hold of this game if you are a basketball fan; the positives far outweigh the negatives.