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NBA 2K13 Review (X360)

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating


NBA 2K13 Review (X360)
2K Sports
We've commented before how EA Sports titles tend to alternate between gameplay and feature improvements each year, resulting in mostly small improvement (but still definite improvement, don't get me wrong) each year. 2K Sports and developer Visual Concepts, on the other hand, follow a different formula where they seemingly throw the kitchen sink at each new NBA 2K release without worrying about saving something for next year. The result is, year after year, that the best NBA game around keeps getting better not by baby steps, but by huge leaps that leave little doubt that each new entry is worth your $60 investment. Their latest, NBA 2K13, continues that trend. As if anyone expected anything different.
Game Details

  • Kinect Sensor Optional
  • Publisher: 2K Sports
  • Developer: Visual Concepts
  • ESRB Rating: “E" for Everyone
  • Genre: Basketball
  • Pros: Tons of content; improvements to My Player mode; silky smooth gameplay; nice presentation; sliders; the Dream Team!
  • Cons: New controls aren't explained well; menus

NBA 2K13's features list is fairly familiar for fans of the series, but with a number of improvements. My Player is back, of course, and lets you play through an entire career for your created player where you improve you skills the more you play. Signature skills are new this year and give you bonus boosts according to specific scenarios that you choose as you're building up your player's experience. These signature skills also apply to star players in the other modes as well, but aren't as immediately apparent as they are on your created rookie. Also new this year is that you have to balance your popularity among teammates, the media, and the fans during meetings with management where you choose different replies and statements. Want to be a team player? Fine. Want to go full on diva and ask for a trade or demand for your coach to be fired? Go for it. The fans might not like you so much after that, though. It is a very interesting concept that makes the already solid career mode even more interesting.

A new mode, called My Team, is a sort of Ultimate Card Game mode where you build a collection of random players and other stuff and have to craft them into a real competitive team by picking up new players and more along the way.

All of the other modes and features we expect are back, of course. The Association dynasty mode is back. You can play standard season modes. Playoff modes. NBA Blacktop streetball games all the way from 1v1 to 5v5. The All-Star Game, including the 3-point contest and dunk contest. You can play online games and even make an Online Association to have a full league run by you and your friends. There is a ton to do here.

Following in the footsteps of NBA 2K11's Michael Jordan love-fest and NBA 2K12's NBA history lesson, NBA 2K13 includes a ton of noteworthy classic teams through the years along with a celebrity team (yes, Justin Bieber is in the game ...), and the best feature - the 1992 U.S. Men's Olympic Basketball Team. The full 1992 Dream Team is here, including Charles Barkley in a videogame for the first time in forever, and they are pretty awesome. You can also play as the 2012 U.S. Men's Olympic basketball team as well, and pitting these two titans against each other is pretty epic and exciting.


2K Sports
Not only does NBA 2K13 have new and impressive features and mode improvements, but Visual Concepts was even brave enough to make some pretty dramatic changes to the gameplay this year as well. You no longer shoot with a simple up and down motion on the right stick, because now the right stick controls your dribbling and moves. To shoot, you now hold the right trigger and then use the right stick (or you could just use the X button if you want). This new control method actually opens up a lot of depth as far as different shots you can take as well as enhances the pacing a bit because you can pull of spectacular, but still realistic, ball handling a little easier than before. The new controls aren't super straightforward, however, and the game doesn't do a very good job of teaching you to use them properly, but after a few games of working to figure everything out you won't want to play basketball any other way.

The rest of the gameplay is just as smooth as it has ever been. These games just feel good to play and give you all of the tools to play as closely to the real NBA players as you want. Leaning into a defender in the post. Darting through a gap in the paint as a point guard. Faking a defender on the perimeter so you can take a step back and drain a three. It all just works so well and feels so good when you pull it off. And, of course, you can tune the gameplay however you want with a ton of A.I. sliders and rule changes (man I love sliders in sports games ...).

NBA 2K13 also has some Kinect voice command features. You can call in substitutions by player name along with some other on-the-fly play calls out on the court. You can also get called for a technical foul if you swear too much or complain about a call, which is good for a laugh.

Graphics & Sound

The on-court presentation is one of NBA 2K13's strongest features, but its sloppy and confusing menu design (which has been a problem for years) is a definite weakness. The presentation during games starts with nifty preview videos of the matchup paired with music, then you jump onto the court with great player models (the faces are still hit or miss, though) with great animation, and excellent UI details and camera shifts that really make it feel like you're watching a real NBA game. Little touches like previewing future games on the schedule or showing mascots or dancers during stoppages of play really boost that real game feel as well.

The sound is also well done with great color commentary that actually reflects the real life teams rather than just a bunch of canned preset phrases and excellent play-by-play calls that match up with the on-court action perfectly. The soundtrack, once again consisting almost exclusively of hip-hop, once again actually manages to fit perfectly in the game even if it isn't necessarily your favorite genre.

Bottom Line

2K Sports
All in all, NBA 2K13 is another fantastic basketball game from 2K Sports and Visual Concepts. It is hard not to be impressed with how much the series manages to improve and grow each year despite the fact that it is already at an incredibly high level. The best keeps getting better, and not just in little subtle ways, but in broad sweeping ways that anyone can recognize. If you are an NBA basketball fan, NBA 2K13 is highly recommended for a purchase.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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