Review by horror_spooky

"Style over substance"

My experience with the NBA 2K franchise is limited. Before NBA 2K13, the only game in the series I played was NBA 2K6, which released during the early days of the Xbox 360. I actually liked that game a lot, and I thought nearly seven years was enough time to wait for the annual release schedule to produce something truly different. NBA 2K13 is better looking than NBA 2K6, has better features, but it simply isn't as fun.

NBA 2K13 begins by forcing players to input a bunch of information like an e-mail address and naming their MyPlayer. Part of the appeal of sports titles is the ability to jump right into the game as fast as possible, so throwing a huge roadblock in the way seems ill advised. On the bright side, I was glad that I wasn't prompted to input an online pass code, and that anyone that has the disc can enjoy the online features of NBA 2K13. Take-Two and 2K Sports are in touch with their audience in this way, which is good.

From there, there's a lot of bright lights and loud noises. NBA 2K13 is flashy, with a high production value, but it is style over substance. Getting to an actual basketball game requires sifting through menu after menu. All the fun is buried, but at least the fun is there. All the game modes basically revolved around the seasonal concept, but with slight tweaks here and there. I think 2K Sports could accomplish a lot if they just streamlined the product and made it less of a shiny mess.

The different types of season mode feel redundant. You're either controlling your created player, controlling an existing NBA player, or controlling an entire team of players, and going through the NBA season with minor differences. In MyCareer, there are press conferences, plus horribly forced interviews with stilted, bad dialogue and terrible voice acting. Backstage drama is also shoehorned into MyCareer, complete with silly cut-scenes that remind me of the bad cut-scenes in the old WWE games.

Other versions of the season mode are more traditional. NBA 2K13 also offers a Blacktop mode that takes the NBA players and puts them on a blacktop court for smaller games. It's all fine and good; nothing spectacular, but it gets the job done. The core gameplay in NBA 2K13 is also mostly fine. Passing feels good, and the shooting mechanics are very well done. A meter at the bottom of players' feet gives a good idea of the best areas to shoot for each different player, which is incredibly helpful and makes the game much more strategic in nature.

The AI is not the greatest, unfortunately, and this goes both for teammate AI as well as opponent AI. They seem to act rather stupidly in most any situations. It's really frustrating when possession of the ball is lost or a point is lost due to the erratic AI.

Both the offline and online multiplayer in NBA 2K13 is done well. Jumping into an online match is easy enough, and there is a tournament style online mode that is also a lot of fun. There is noticeable lag in the online mode, but once you get used to it, the online is just as smooth as the local multiplayer games.

Character models are well designed and highly detailed. The courts look great, but there's only so much you can do to make a basketball court look good before a limit is reached. The crowd is also highly detailed, and the on court animations are done well. NBA 2K13 is certainly a step ahead NBA 2K6 in the graphics department now that 2K Sports has a better handling on the current generation hardware.

Jay Z is an executive producer for this game, so the soundtrack consists of current rap, pop, and hip hop tracks. I'm sure it won't appeal to everyone, but there are big names on the soundtrack, and I didn't mind it. Like I said, NBA 2K13 has a high production value, and that shows with its graphics and its audio.

NBA 2K13 has a lot of content, it's pretty, and it's fine as a basketball simulator. But NBA 2K6, a game that released over half a decade ago, gets the job done just as well, if not better. I'm sure avid NBA fans will need their roster update, but other gamers have no reason to pick up this update if they have an older version of the NBA 2K series.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 02/12/13

Game Release: NBA 2K13 (US, 10/02/12)

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