When you think of in depth games that are highly rewarding with the more effort you put in, the last type of game you’d expect this to be is a sport one. However, with NBA 2K13, this breaks the mould. We should probably mention right away that in no uncertain terms that this game really is a tough nut to crack, especially if you’re not too clued up on basketball (SpaceJam doesn’t count, sadly). When you do score your first basket though, everything clicks into place and you feel that you’ve actually achieved something.
To help you along your way, there’s a massive set of tutorials. In all honesty, you’re must likely going to have to go through them all more than once to pick up the basics of the game but it’s well worth it in the end. If you don’t put in the time with it, you’ll really lose out in the enjoyment of this cracking game.
Thankfully there’s a lot of tutorial modes as well showing you the more complex manoeuvres that you can pull off in the game which is most certainly a welcome bonus. As with other Wii U games, one of the key selling points of NBA 2K13 is the option to play the entire game on the Wii U gamepad, and we’re pleased to say that it plays exceptionally well on both the big and the small screen. However, when it comes to MyCareer mode, the gamepad is much more than a TV replacement (sort of).
As with other sports games, you’re expecting different modes, and the one that stands out the most is MyCareer. It does exactly what it says on the tin and allows you to take your avatar from the rookie teams to one of the NBA teams. In a nice little touch, there’s a faux social network presence between games with people tweeting you about your career along with you being able to sign sponsorship deals. Whilst it’s not a deal breaker, it’s a quirky addition to the game.
Moreover, in MyCareer, you can also use the gamepad as a Biometric scanner to see which players are (literally) red hot and which require a break and thus be substituted. It’s a great idea to be implemented into the game and it’s also encouraging to show that developers aren’t just using the gamepad as a second screen and rather use it as a way to enhance gameplay. Even better, you can take your character online to see just how you fare against fellow real life players when compared to the rock solid CPU.
Graphically, it looks pretty decent and we’d say whilst it doesn’t live up to other Wii U games (we’re looking at you, Batman), it looks a lot better than the Wii version of the game. In all honesty though, the graphics are a minor part of this game, and we’ve not experienced any of the reported slow down with this release. There’s no jaggies, or clipping of the players and the animation as a whole is smooth with the models moving just as you’d expect them to. Even better, when you perform an excellent basket (or the other team for that matter does), you get an action replay of it from a great angle. This further helps to polish off an already professional looking and feeling game.
Related to the graphics is the overall presentation of the game, and this is where it fails more than a tad. Sadly the menus are a bit of a nightmare to get around which is in no way helped by the fact that the A button cancels a menu, and the B button lets you accept an option. That’s right, it’s the exact opposite of the normal gaming convention, one which we’ve be used to for the past 15 years. This is the most annoying part about the game and we really can’t fathom why play testers didn’t get this flaw thrashed out during the beta stages.
The commentary is actually pretty great, with the announcers praising you when you’re doing everything right and giving you a verbal bashing when you make more than a few blunders. In an added twist, the game has a pre set list of surnames that the announcers actually say during the game. It doesn’t sound like much, but it just makes it seem much more believable and professional as a sports sim.
As a whole, NBA 2K13 is an truly exceptional package. Whilst you may struggle with it at first, the struggle more than pays off. If this is a sign of things to come with sports games on the Wii U, the future certainly looks bright for it.