|System: Xbox 360, PS3*, PC|
|Dev: Visual Concepts|
|Pub: 2K Sports|
|Release: October 2, 2012|
|Players: 1-4 Offline, Online Multiplayer|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
I've always said that it's hard to innovate in sports genres. The rules of basketball never change, so making basketball games feel different year after year is a bit of a challenge. Luckily, the NBA 2k series has never been afraid of experimenting with new things, and this particularly holds true with NBA 2k13. 2k12 was already an awesome basketball game that felt as if it covered all the bases. 2k13 is built on that same great system but throws in a whole bunch of wacky new extras that give the game more of an arcade NBA Jam sort of feel. These extras aren't integral to the gameplay, but instead act as shiny diversions that keep you interested in the game long after you have gotten bored with random exhibitions. Heck, you might even get a brand new pair of shoes while you are at it.
The single biggest gameplay innovation in NBA 2k13 is the new dribble stick. Essentially, you can now control your character's dribble with the right thumbstick. Normally, this stick would be used to shoot, but now you have to hold a trigger down in order to enter shooting mode before using the stick to shoot.
There are both pros and cons to this new control scheme. Being able to control your dribble at all is obviously a vast improvement. However, the game doesn't actually tell you how the dribble stick works. There are no tutorials or instructional videos on how to use it to your advantage. The game literally tells you to just try waggling the stick around and see what happens.
In addition, the need to hold a trigger in order to shoot actually makes shooting feel less responsive than it did before. In the middle of a heated game you may find yourself late on the trigger press, causing your chosen player to simply fiddle the ball around rather than make the game-winning shot. It's nothing you can't get used to, but it's certainly an annoying adjustment early on.
That being said, I think the decision to add a dribble stick to the game was a good one. It makes the game feel a bit more arcade-y, so to speak. It feels like you have more control over your player overall, even if shooting feels a bit laggier as a result. I'd actually like to see them keep the functionality in for the rest of the series, with possible tweaks to how shooting works hopefully added in the future.
That's pretty much it when it comes to gameplay changes in 2k13. Everything else is just bells and whistles, and this game has a lot of them. My personal favorite is the game's new shoe creator. With this tool you can design your own custom footwear for your created player to wear. You can tweak the colors and design but you can't get too detailed. Still, it's pretty awesome to see your player wearing the dream kicks that you thought up.
Oh, and get this. You can actually purchase these shoes in real life. The game links up with NikeID, which allows you to order the shoes you created, for yourself, in your own size. This has got to be the geekiest function I have ever seen integrated into a basketball game, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't order my own custom rocket shoes! Dorky footwear indulgence… what will they think of next?
The much acclaimed My Player/My Career mode has been improved upon as well. Now you can spend points to purchase "Signature Skills" which affect the way your player handles on the court. Examples are "Brick Wall," which makes you harder to get past; "Pick Pocket," which increases your chances to steal the ball; and "Finisher," which makes you better at layups and dunks. There are 31 skills each with three levels of proficiency. Of course, the stock players in the game also have these skills, but you don't ever get a chance to fiddle with them.