|Image: 2K Sports|
It's that time of year again, folks. Can you believe that basketball season is already right around the corner? I mean, the lockout-shortened NBA season (which, in retrospect, started about two months later than normal) ended with the Miami Heat being crowned NBA Champions on June 21, 2012.
Soon after, the 2012 Summer Olympic Games began in London with the United States Men's National Team — chalked full of NBA talent throughout the roster — was in the spotlight once again as they would repeat as Gold medalists. The Summer Olympics came to an end on August 12.
Fast forward to now, October 1, 2012, and we're only one day away from the release of the latest installment to 2K Sports' best-selling simulation basketball franchise.
The question is, is NBA 2K13 worth a release day purchase?
As someone who has diligently followed the hype surrounding NBA 2K13 for the last few months now — I've been an avid fan of the series since I made the switch from the now defunct "NBA Live" back in 2007 — I can happily tell you that NBA 2K13 is definitely worthy of a release day purchase.
What makes this year's version so much better? That's easy.
First up is the probably the thing that the people over at 2K Sports have hyped up the most — the addition of Jay-Z as the executive producer of the game. Now, who has played NBA 2K games in the past know that they're always known for having one of if not the best soundtrack out of all the annually released sports titles. Needless to say, Jay-Z's involvement in this year's game has taken the music portion of the game to an entirely different level.
For anyone who hasn't seen the list of songs that the legendary MC chose for the game, here's the list:
'NBA 2K13' Soundtrack:
• The Hours: “All in the Jungle”
• Too Short: "Blow the Whistle" (Main)
• Eric B. and Rakim: “I Ain’t No Joke”
• Phoenix: “1901”
• Jay-Z: “Pump it Up” (Freestyle)
• Puff Daddy and the Family: “Victory” (feat. Notorious B.I.G. & Busta Rhymes)
• Daft Punk: “Around the World" (Radio Edit)
• Santigold: “Shove It” (feat. Spank Rock)
• Kanye West: “Amazing”
• Jay-Z: “Run This Town”
• The Dirty Projectors: “Stillness in the Move”
• Nas: “The World is Yours”
• Coldplay: “Viva La Vida”
• Roy Ayers: “We Live in Brooklyn, Baby”
• Justice: “Stress”
• Jay-Z: “The Bounce”
• Kanye West: “We Major” (feat. Nas & Really Doe)
• Mobb Deep: “Shook Ones, Pt. II”
• Meek Mill: “Ima Boss” (Instrumental)
• Kanye West: “Mercy” (feat. Big Sean, Pusha T, and 2 Chainz)
• U2: “Elevation”
• Jay-Z: “On to the Next One”
• Jay-Z: “Public Service Announcement”
• Jay-Z: “H.A.M.” (Instrumental)
That's quite a collection if you ask me. Another small thing in this year's game? Jay Z wanted the in-game menus to pulsate to the beat of the music in the background. Is the pulsating menu really a big thing? No, not really. Does it still impress me? Absolutely.
But Jay-Z didn't stop there, he was also apparently the voice behind the idea to include both the 1992 Dream Team and the 2012 team that won Gold in London this season; thus allowing us as fans to decide the debate that has recently cropped up of which squad is better. (Who are we kidding? Of course, it's the Dream Team!)
At first, Sir Charles Barkley and Scottie Pippen were holding out from being included, but a quick phone call from Jay-Z was all it took to remedy that minor hiccup.
You're probably thinking, we get it, Adam. Jay-Z is great and the things he's done for the game are great. But can we please move onto some game play?
You read my mind.
After all, it's in it's game play, not all of these extra bells and whistles, where the NBA 2K series hangs its hat and continues to blow away the competition. The biggest new addition to game play this year is the addition of the new "Dribble Stick." Using this, you'll be able to perform all of those sick crossovers, spins, etc. with a simple flick of the right analog stick.
But Adam, if the right analog stick, which in previous years has been the "Shot Stick" is now the "Dribble Stick", then how do we shoot the basketball this year? That's the beauty of it. The "Shot Stick" isn't gone at all. All you have to do is hold down the left trigger and the right analog stick returns to being the "Shot Stick" whenever you want it to be.
No doubt the new controls will take some getting used to, especially since the vast majority of us have the old controls down by muscle memory, but I have complete confidence that, once you learn the new controls, you won't miss the old ones (though there will be an in-game option to revert back to the old controls if you so choose).
Another big improvement is the physics and collision animations between players this year. Ankle breakers make a welcome return and if a player is realistically meant to land hard on the court after a mid-air collision, you can bet that he'll do just that in NBA 2K13. 'Lob City' aka the Alley-oop is prominently featured again like always. The new thing this year, 'Lob City' can be a party of one, meaning you can alley-oop the ball off the backboard to yourself. Insane. We know.
Something else I'm happy to see in 2K13 is the lobbied-for speed fix. Anyone who plays 2K12 knows what I'm talking about. You're on a fast break with Derrick Rose, but next thing you know, you're forced to pick up your dribble as big boy Kendrick Perkins (as an example) is able to catch up to you. Not realistic whatsoever. Thankfully this year, speed matters. If you have the speed to take your man off the dribble, odds are you will do just that without much of a problem this year.
My Player, now known as My Career, gets some updates as well. Once you earn enough clout within your organization, your player can have a sit-down with the general manager in his office and let him know how you feel about the direction of the franchise and what actions you think should be taken to make it better such as firing your head coach or acquiring certain players.
Then you have the shoes. Oh the shoes... Spalding and Under Armour join the party this year, and honestly, it's too mind-blowing for me to explain it here. Instead, I'll let this Developer's Insight video from 2K Sports do the talking.
Just another reason why 2K Sports continues to get my money for this game year after year after year...
Even though they don't have any competition at the moment, the developers of NBA 2K continue to push the envelop and make improvements to their best-selling product.
Still not sold? Check out the 2K Sports YouTube channel and 2ksports.com for more information.
I hope to see you all out there on the court when NBA 2K13 officially tips off October 2nd.