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November 15, 2012
NBA 2K13 - PS3 Review
Release Distributer Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
4/10/20122K Games2K GamesVisual Concepts1-72-10
Media HDD Install Resolution Move Controls Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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The legendary Scottie Pippen in NBA 2K13.
October and November really are great months to be sports fans. Every year around this time the biggest sports franchises release their annual updates to the best games on the roster. We've already seen FIFA vs PES showdown, and next up is NBA 2K vs... no-one actually. EAs anticipated reboot of the NBA Live franchise still hasn't eventuated, which is testament to how dominant the NBA 2K series has been. If sports powerhouse EA can't compete, what hope does anyone else have? We've always been big fans of the NBA 2K franchise here at Futuregamez and we expect nothing but excellence from Visual Concept's series. Can they deliver the goods again?

Being an NBA game there isn't much in the way of story, but there are a ton of game modes. Career mode has been overhauled and is now referred to as MyCareer, and the player as MyPlayer. There's a new online mode called MyTeam which is a lot like the Ultimate Team game modes found in EA Sports games. The idea is that you earn virtual coins (VC) and use them to buy players or booster packs to form a team. You then compete against other online players in the hopes of taking your team all the way to the playoffs.

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Player likenesses in 2K13 are stunning.
Association, the NBA 2K franchise mode returns, and it can be played either online or offline depending on your preference. NBA: Creating a Legend is basically career mode, but you get to use a current NBA Player rather than building your own up from scratch. And of course you can play an exhibition game, a full season or jump straight into the playoffs. Blacktop 3-on-3 returns as well.

To the excitement of many the 1992 Dream Team, as well as the 2012 Team USA Olympic teams are now playable. You can't help but feel their inclusion is based on Kobe Bryant's claim that Team USA would be more than a match for the Dream Team if the two sides were ever to meet. Whatever the reason for its inclusion you get the chance to settle the score, one way or another. Far less exciting is the inclusion of a ‘celebrity' team including the likes of Justin Bieber, Bow Wow and Sean Kingston. Its inclusion can probably be explained by Jay Z's presence as executive producer, but even so...

As mentioned above, career mode, now called MyCareer has received the biggest overhaul. Once you've created your player you head straight into the Rookie Showcase game, where you get to strut your stuff for the scouts. Perform well and you'll likely be a high draft pick, but perform poorly and you'll drop to the later rounds. All new to MyCareer are press conferences and conversations with team GMs. Here you answer questions with one of three responses, taking either a "me first" or "team first" attitude.

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Griffin about to slam dunk!
Becoming popular is another objective in MyCareer, so you may prefer to appeal to the fans with your comments. You can even take to social media to win over fans. Performing well on-court earns you VC (or skill points if you play offline) and will likely boost your popularity and team chemistry too. You use your VC to improve your skills, but be warned – it's a slow process. There are practice drills available which give a minimal amount of VC, or you can invest in a Legends Training Camp to boost specific skills via training.

New this year is Signature Skills, passive abilities that boost specific skills. There are over 30 Signature Skills in the game, some examples include the ‘on court coach', which makes team mates pass to you when you call for the ball, ‘defensive anchor' which gives all players on your team a two attribute-point bonus to their defensive abilities and ‘brick wall', which enhances your screens, making them harder to get through.

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NBA 2K13 is out now on all major platforms.
Signature Skills are available in all game modes, but in MyCareer you can buy and equip the skills of your choice. The NBA's best players have an arsenal of the skills in-game too, making them formidable opponents. Prior to games in career mode you'll be shown your player matchup for the game, including their Signature Skills. There's no doubt Signature Skills enhance the whole game, making the already excellent AI even more accurate than before.

Ok, so those are the major changes to game modes, but how about on the court? The biggest change there this year is the inclusion of the Dribble Stick, which enables you to pull off advanced freestyle dribble moves with the right-stick. If you're worried that this might negatively affect the simulation feel of the game, don't be. Use of the Dribble Stick consumes energy at a rapid rate, so you don't want to overdo it. Using the Dribble Stick too much is also a recipe for turnovers, with your player losing control of the ball more easily.

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What you can't see here is the superb animation.
The one criticism of the Dribble Stick is that nowhere in the game is it really explained, so for casual basketball fans like myself, it takes a lot longer to get used to than it should. That's because its use isn't entirely intuitive – you can't just push in the direction you want to go and expect good things to happen – you have to link sensible moves together to get by your opponent.

Online play in NBA 2K13 is vastly improved on what has come before. In my time online I experienced next to no lag, which was prominent in previous years. You now get a comprehensive scouting report of your opponent pre-game, including their tendencies, such as where they like to shoot from and whether or not they double-team players. It's a neat feature that definitely adds something to the experience, making the player less of a stranger in the process. Local multiplayer is a blast too, and lining up against your friends never gets old.

Like previous years, the presentation is first-class throughout. On the way to a game you'll often see a video clip from one of the soundtrack songs, which marries the clip with in-game footage to get you hyped up for the game. They didn't really do it for me, but it's still a neat touch that some fans will get a kick out of.

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Even player tattoos are faithfully replicated.
In pre-game you get an up-to-date discussion of the upcoming game, as well as a look at some pre-game routines from the players. At quarter time and three-quarter time there are advertisements for upcoming games on the schedule, again with relevant banter about the matchup, including how players from the team have been performing. At half-time there's a detailed highlights package, as well as a profile of the game's best player and scores from other games being played. The same goes for the end of the game, where you can watch highlights of the games' best player and pore over all the stats.

As far as issues go I only had a couple. Firstly, I can't help but feel the whole control scheme is now too complex. Take passing for example; trying to pass with the X button or right-stick alone is wildly inaccurate, and even with icon passing your player doesn't show great sense in where to pass the ball. Learning to use bounce passes and leading passes can help, but all of a sudden the simple act of passing requires the use of multiple triggers, one or two analog-sticks and a button – hardly the most intuitive set up.

This goes for the whole control set-up, not just passing. Certainly casual basketball fans may find themselves overwhelmed, and not entirely welcome, and this is where the lack of a decent tutorial really hurts.

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The Dream Team in NBA 2K13.
The next issue is the terrible menu system, which takes a while to come to grips with. Menus have long been a thorn in the side of 2K games, but it's now beyond time we saw some improvement here. My last minor gripe is that you have to adjust settings in every game mode, rather than altering them just once, at a global level.

Visually NBA 2K13 is first-class. Most players look like their real-life versions and, as always, the animation is outstanding. Real-life idiosyncrasies have been carried over to the game – shot styles and free-throw routines for example – making it feel that much more life-like. Arenas are faithfully recreated too, and as mentioned earlier, the presentation is close to flawless, really adding to the atmosphere of the game.

If there's an area that outdoes the visuals it's the commentary. The play by play is done by Clark Kellogg, Kevin Harlan and Steve Kerr, and it's significantly better than any other game out there. They have a ton of discussion points, and just about everything they say is accurate to the situation on the court. It takes a long time for them to start repeating the same anecdotes or views on a specific player, and even then it's only noticeable if you're playing as the same team over and over.

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NBA 2K13 is a superb basketball game.
Even with Jay Z onboard the soundtrack didn't wow me. I might be in the minority there, but few of the tunes got me amped for games. Is anyone else suffering from Rhianna overload? To me her voice is just one small step up from caterwauling, but she's in the game all the same. So yeah, not my cup of tea.

Overall, NBA 2K13 is a faithful representation of basketball; the best yet actually, which is no small feat. There have been significant improvements to the career mode and online play is now lag-free and enjoyable. The Dribble Stick and Signature Skills both enhance the on-court experience, making the game even more life-like than before. The complex control scheme and absence of useful tutorials run the risk of alienating casual fans, but if you love the NBA you're going to love NBA 2K13.

Review By: Mike Allison

GRAPHICSPlayers look just like their real-life counterparts and the animation is terrific. The presentation is nigh-on flawless too.
SOUNDThe commentary is peerless; head and shoulders above anything else in a game. The music wasn't to my taste, and the sound effects are fine.
GAMEPLAYStill improving, which is a super effort given it's always been top-class. The controls are getting very complicated though.
VALUEWith significantly improved play online, and an always deep lineup of game modes, NBA 2K13 is stacked.
OVERALLNBA 2K13 is a super game of basketball, improving on an already great game. Casual fans may be overwhelmed, but for NBA fans this is a must have.

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