Gamescom 2012: NBA 2K13 Preview – Here Comes The Dream Team!
Written Friday, August 31, 2012 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
It must be difficult trying to top the last entry in a sports franchise year on year, and it must be especially difficult for NBA 2K developers Visual Concepts, who with each and every annual iteration of the series has brought a range of improvements and new features to the game. With NBA 2K12 representing a zenith for the franchise, NBA 2K13 has a lot to do if it wants to beat its predecessor. With a comprehensive My Player Mode, Build a Dynasty and NBA's All-Time Greatest, where can you go from there? How can you possibly cram more content and improvements into a game that was almost perfect? Get Jay Z on the phone, quick!
Obviously, beating NBA 2K12 is the goal for NBA 2K13, which means adhering to the same remit of quality and innovation, and with Jay Z on board as Executive Producer, you can take your 14 NBA legends and shove 'em. This one has all-stars and legends up the wazoo, with Jay Z using his considerable celebrity heft and contacts to wrangle the rights to the entire 1992 Dream Team, including long-time holdout, Charles Barkley. Calling and emailing players and their agents has ensured that Jay Z has secured the rights to a range of players, as well as the Team USA Basketball license, meaning you can finally settle the raging debate surrounding which team is better: the 1992 Dream Team or the 2012 Team USA.
A game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat serves as our first look at NBA 2K13 however, and as ever the presentation and commentary is second to none. The visuals are quite possibly the most stunning we've yet seen in an NBA title too, with the jersey fabrics looking more realistic (a very minor refinement, granted) and the collision system undergoing something of an overhaul. These new collision models make interactions between players look more realistic, with the aim being that you'll “feel” the 1-on-1 situations between attackers and defenders. Or something to that effect. Complementing the new collision model are revamped animations that have been refined to branch and blend, meaning less robotic movements and less zombie-like behaviour.
Going in for rebounds and disputing fouls (as an example) will appear much smoother than before, while additional moves like bounce passes and alley-oops will also be easier to execute. There'll be smarter AI backing you up too, meaning a more helpful and cohesive team experience when you're playing solo. It also means less clumsy turnovers from chest passes and the bounce pass enables shorter, less risky link up play. There are more flexible plays too, and the AI will even adapt during these plays to make the whole experience slicker and less frustrating. Typing in to the improved animations are also instant player reactions to certain scenarios too, so a celebration is synced perfectly with the action and the crowd effects and audio are also perfectly matched up to what's happening on the court, where previously the sound effects would descend into a dull roar.
From a control standpoint, the right analogue stick remains the 'shot stick', but you now also use it to perform dribbling moves, with shots pulled off using the stick with the left trigger held down. Having the left trigger as a shot stick modifier essentially doubles its functionality, and gives you a range of additional control options. Players still possess a range of signature moves too, with a total of 28 signature skills in all to define NBA 2K13's star players. A player like Kevin Durant therefore is defined as a 'closer', while LeBron James is a 'chase down artist', so he'll always be pursuing you relentlessly during fast breaks. Chris Paul is a 'forward general' meanwhile, and star players can have up to five signature moves each, making them stand out.
We can't help but notice that 'Kinect is listening' pops up on the screen at certain intervals, and a demonstration of the Kinect functionality shows that you're able to shout out plays like full-court presses and man-to-man marking, as well as individual manoeuvres like setting screens or double teaming certain players. You can call out substitutions (“bring on John Stockton”, our guide shouts out, and sure enough, on he comes after the ball goes out of bounds), commit intentional fouls, and even have a sweary rant at the referee to earn yourself a technical violation. “Bullshit ref! That was a foul!” is shown as an example, which garners the desired effect. Pretty much any play you can think of will be accepted by Kinect's voice recognition, including the Gatorade dump on the coach at the end of the game. It seems pretty thorough, we must say.
You can expect every player on the Dream Team to have their own set of signature skills to boot, and with David Robinson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Charles Barkley on the court, we're shown how good the 1992 USA team looks facing off against the current 2012 Team USA. The likenesses are pretty much spot on, and no doubt each player's attributes will be accurately represented. You'll also be treated to more TV-style replays and some funky Nike + statistics popping up during dunks in addition to the stellar presentation that comes with each version of NBA 2K every year. It's hard to believe that 2K Sports and Visual Concepts are set to outstrip NBA 2K12 with NBA 2K13, but everything about this year's iteration seems like a substantial enough leap to make this an annual sports update to get excited about. We love this game!
NBA 2K13 will be tipping off on October 2nd in North America and October 5th in Europe.