Basketball simulation fans everywhere can rest easy knowing 2K Sports has once again released a top notch game this year. Everything that made last year’s game successful has been tweaked, while major selling points have been removed in favor of a new sense of style in the game’s presentation. Executive Producer Jay Z took a great product and added his flashy coat of paint to make NBA 2K13 one of the best sports games experiences of this generation.

Right from the title screen, you are treated to familiar beats that get you excited for a game of hoops. That is, after the Jay Z mini-music video featuring some gameplay. Once you get to the launch screen, you’ll notice it looks flashier and just feels fresh and new, even though it will be pretty familiar to those who have played the previous titles. Only a handful of modes have been removed, as well as support for Move motion controls in the PS3 version.

NBA 2K has also picked up their own introductory version of an Ultimate Team mode, simply named My Team. You build your team from virtual trading card packs, take the best and form a team to compete in exhibition games or in the Playoffs online. You’ll get your choice of current and past players, which isn’t unlike other sports franchises have already done. Seeing as this is the first jump into the team mode pool, subsequent versions in future titles are sure to be improved.
NBA 2K13 Screenshot 1
If you’re new to the series, a step-by-step tutorial will show you just about everything you need to know about controlling your player on offense, defense, and in pulling off those highlight reel moves. There’s even the addition of enhanced dribble moves on the Right Stick in addition to the shooting of years past. Besides a few tweaks to the controls, everything will again feel pretty familiar if you’ve played the previous title. Of course, the more you the play the game, the more moves you’ll become familiar with and be able to use to your advantage.

The gameplay is as tight and responsive as ever. Your teammates spread the court and will react to different situations appropriately, even down to a simple screen and roll at the top of the key, which they will do without any button presses. There doesn’t seem to be any other major gameplay changes made this year, so rest assured it will be a fun game of hoops once you find your own preferred style of play.

The visuals have made the trip from the previous title, with almost no noticeable improvements. Now, don’t take that the wrong way. Everything again looks pretty lifelike, and any passers by will most certainly mistake what happens on screen with that of an actual NBA game on television. Players move around with some style, crowds jump up and down during big moments, and even the mascots will do a crazy or well rehearsed dance at center court.

Sounds have been given quite a refresh from the previous year, with a hand picked selection of background tracks that those familiar with the genre will almost instantly recognize. There does seem to be more instances of the soundtrack playing rather than the upbeat generic NBA tune before and between games, which for the most part doesn’t take anything away from the experience and actually creates a more appropriate atmosphere. Even timeouts and other downtime on the court mimics what you might hear at an actual NBA game.
NBA 2K13 Screenshot 4
The commentary has been noticeably upgraded and expanded to reflect what you might hear if you’re watching a broadcast NBA game. Stats are mentioned that reflect real-world happenings in the NBA for various time frames. Comparisons of those time frames might even reflect what is heard on traditional sports talk shows. Top players get a mention during games, and the commentators will praise you for success, or point out what is wrong should you not be doing so hot. In My Player mode, your player has the ability to talk on camera during a game, while the commentators will compare how you performed in previous games with your current stats or any number of other combinations. Play-by-play is definitely expanded with a slew of new combinations of plays that happen on the court, while turnovers and transitions are commented on as the play progresses.

The core online multiplayer modes are back, in addition to what the My Team mode offers. Having your console connected online will give you roster, uniform, location, and item updates, which will keep you busy between taking your teams to a national championship or simply having fun while playing like average athletes. You’ll be able to jump into online matches with a short wait, which you won’t notice due to the finely produced music videos that play during the loading screens.

Overall, it is pretty clear in what direction 2K Sports and Visual Concepts would like to take the franchise. Next year’s NBA 2K game will most likely include pre-order bonuses for the My Team mode, seeing as it probably will include a much improved and deepened version. If NBA 2K13 is your first jump into basketball simulation video games, you couldn’t have picked a better time.

NBA 2K13 Box Art
Review Score : [starreview tpl=16] Title : NBA 2K13
Format : PS3 (Also on Xbox 360, PC, Wii, PSP)
Developer : Visual Concepts
Publisher : 2K Sports
Release Date : October 2, 2012

[starreviewmulti id=1 tpl=20]

*2K Sports provided with a review copy on the PS3 platform.