I’ll be honest, I shied away from the NBA2K franchise for a long time. Not unlike the Madden series, the same old gameplay options combined with the occasional roster update made me yawn through the opening montage. The only reason I have the game at all is because I won a bet with a family member, landing me the Dynasty Edition, which included a full size basketball, All Star Weekend download add-on, Skull Candy headphones, and a controller skin. Sounds like a pretty good deal, right? Well, it turns out the NBA2K franchise has completely turned around their approach to the NBA superstar experience.
The traditional gaming modes like Season and The Association are all there, but My Career is where NBA2K13 shines. Previously, your created player would enter into the Rookie Challenge with the worst of the worst abilities. This year, you can enhance your player’s starting abilities to what I would consider just below average, allowing you to be a contributor to your team from the start. Of course, your performance during the Rookie Challenge game dictates where your player will fall in the draft. This is where the game truly gets interesting.
NBA2K13 has taken a roleplaying direction for My Career. I nearly jumped out of my seat when I saw my player’s mouth moving and words I chose coming out of it. Directly after the Rookie Challenge, you meet with a few team General Managers who will ask you questions about your vision for their team to your personal history. Being able to choose an arrogant or humble response is key to which spot you land in the draft. If you don’t want to be part of a team rebuilding it’s core, you can pick the “I want to win a championship and you guys suck” option. Well, it’s almost worded that way. On the other hand, if you really, really want to be on a certain team, you can choose, “I will fly across the court with rockets blazing and then obey your every command.”
The really impressive part of My Career is the focus on building your reputation through your game performance. The “Teammate grade” is still important, and also adds to your Team Chemistry statistic. Improve your team chemistry by simply playing well, or spending Virtual Currency to take your team out to dinner, the movies, or just a get together at your place. Integral to the My Career experience is Virtual Currency. You can earn more currency by playing ANY mode in NBA2K13 and spend it on improving player attributes, signature moves, on and off court attire, or participating in popularity events like charities. This will be key when it comes time to renegotiate your rookie contract.
After every game you play, a press conference is held where a reporter asks you a question based on how impressive or utterly horrible you played. You can choose to credit your whole team or only your own ambitions with 4 different responses tailored for each different question. Be careful, these responses affect your popularity, team chemistry, and local fan support.
Another truly impressive feature of NBA2K13 is the GM Sitdown and Endorsements addition. Feel like a player is holding you back? Meet with your GM and see what he can do about it. Of course, these kinds of moves can hurt or improve your team so be careful if you’re just trying to create a media stir. Setting career high-statistics will earn you Endorsement packages from billboards to shoe designs to face of the franchise. Better attire will be unlocked, as well as a higher chance to move to more prestigious teams should you draft low in the beginning of the game.
NBA2K13 did not forget to up the ante on gameplay controls either. By introducing Stick Control, combining a clockwise right stick motion with any selection of shots and dribbles makes every possession look and feel different. Characters no longer simply run into screens and stumble backwards or fall down; they fight over the top or squeeze between defender and ball handler. Foul detection has also improved. Last time I played NBA2K, I could place myself in the perfect position for a charge and just end up injured or angry every time. This year, refs are more likely to call a charge or blocking foul, even if over the back calls have become superfluous. Better passing lanes have appeared too. Instead of forcing a pass over the top of a post player, your character will consider a bounce pass. I practically stood up and clapped.
As a bonus, since JAY-Z helped produce the game, the soundtrack has improved. Coldplay is featured in a game-opening montage and doesn’t put you sleep. U2 is given a spotlight during particularly impacting games.
Be careful, NBA2K13 will take over all your free time.
Lauren Mack: Co-founder of The Well Written Woman is an aspiring writer, blogger, and overall enthusiast of brainstorms. She is a graduate of Flagler College with a BA in English Literature and has no intentions to teach. Lauren spends a lot of time reading novels and hoping she can one day finish her own. She often wonders how they made blue cheese so delicious. Really, she is just imposing her elitist attitude on everyone. You can find her pennings at her blogand follow her on Twitter.