Since its debut on Spike TV and particularly over the last 2 weeks, much has been revealed about NBA 2K13. As a fan of the franchise, I found some of these revelations exciting and others not so much. Here are some of my NBA 2k13 pros and cons based on what we have seen and heard to this point.
Dynamic Shot Generator - This is an aspect that has the potential to take 2K basketball to the next level. Ever since the first significant inclusion of collisions in a basketball game with NBA Live 2005, I personally have been waiting for NBA 2K to really implement and master this element. In some of the recent gameplay videos I noticed some nice collisions under the basket, in the air and in the paint, but it remains to be seen how consistently they occur when a player is already in a layup or dunk animation. But beyond collision detection, the dynamic shot generator aims to provide for almost limitless possibilities when an offensive and defensive player interact. The potential of each trip down the court being unique and contextual could add an air of realism never before seen in an NBA 2K game. Though animations were plentiful in past 2K efforts, the did eventually get repetitive. Several gamers who have experienced 2K13 hands-on have praised the shot generator as one of the stand-out additions in the game.
Defense/Player movement - Defense in NBA 2K12 needed an upgrade on the user and AI side of the ball. On the user side, there didn't seem to be enough tools at the defenders disposal to play effective on-the-ball defense or to properly utilize help defense. On the AI side, unrealistic defensive recovery, warping and speed bursts lead to an experience that felt cheap in many ways. OS's own vannwolfhawk in his hands-on impressions of the game reported some encouraging things regarding fixed help defense rotations and on-the-ball defense. Additionally, the improved foot planting and realistic momentum have me optimistic that defense could be just as fun as offense in 2K13.
Improved passing – 2K heard the complaints of the fans and made improving passing a priority this year. The decoupling of the pass animations promises to allow more variety to passing and a more "loose" feeling to the ball between passer and receiver according to the developers. The manual bounce pass is also something fans have been awaiting to return to the game and according to a few of the hands-on reviews, it changes the dynamic on fast-breaks and pick and rolls. The pass targeting system also promises greater accuracy this year returning a sense of control to the user that is more than welcome.
Signature Skills - The addition of player specific signature skills can add an element of uniqueness to players in the game that the rating system just could not provide. In NBA 2K12 a high 3 point rating would be represented by a 3 point icon, but that's not how signature skill icons are allotted. From my understanding, a signature skill does not merely reflect a high rating in a particular area. Rather, these skills go beyond numerical ratings and tendencies to capture intangibles which are hard to measure. Skills such as chase down block and defensive anchor are good examples of this. I am excited to see how this manifests in gameplay.
The 1992 Dream Team and Charles Barkley – It is very fitting to include the Dream team in what may be the best NBA 2K yet and better still on the Dream Team's 20th anniversary. Could there be more to this addition than repetitively pitting the Dream Team vs. the 2012 National team for bragging rights? There is some speculation that there may be and I certainly hope so. Asked for including Sir Charles, all I have to say is, it’s about time.
All-Star Weekend – Many NBA 2K fans have been asking for a fully fleshed out official All-Star weekend year after year. This year, they got it, I'm excited about it.
Presentation elements – From the small sample I have seen in the videos, I prefer some presentation elements from NBA 2K12 over 2K13. Replays and player introductions resemble more of a blacktop feel than an NBA game feel in my opinion wih the new ornamentation, speaker, microphone and crest background graphics. I'm crossing my fingers that the game has a more TNT-like presentation upon release but that seems optimistic.
Slow-motion crossovers – From the footage I have seen in certain instances, some crossovers appear to be extra slow. It could be user error, such as someone using the size-up crossover in the wrong situation or it could be an extension of the slow-motion animations which have been common in some of the recent NBA 2K efforts. From the impressions out there, this doesn't seem to be an issue however and I hope that the speed of moves and of movement feels right in the retail version.
Crossover packages? - Something I picked up watching gameplay footage is how similar most of the player's ball handling appears to be, though the speeds are different. In one video I noticed that Shane Battier had the same step-back crossover as Mario Chalmers and in another video, Kendrick Perkins had a similar dribbling style. It seems that dribble packages are still in the game because I have noticed the star players look unique, though most other players appear to dribble the same. Hopefully this is just a demo issue, because it would be a major tragedy if dribble packages have been scrapped or streamlined due to the new control system.
Rebounding and boxing out- In one instance of Gamescom gameplay footage I witnessed Kendrick Perkins who was boxed out by Chris Bosh and Shane Battier, elevate over both to grab an offensive rebound. That particular play reminded me a lot of NBA 2K12 and no hands-on impression I have seen thus-far has suggested that this area was fully addressed. As the offensive rebounding imbalance was a major negative for me in 2K12, I hope box-outs and rebounding are tuned correctly before release.
All-Star Weekend dunk contest controls – The Guitar-Hero-esque control scheme of the dunk contest confused me a bit when it was first revealed. If that is the only control option, I’m not sure I see myself playing that mode much.
Barkley only playable on the Dream Team and no Scottie Pippen – The announcement of the 1992 Dream team was bittersweet to me once it was confirmed that Scottie Pippen would not be included in NBA 2K13. Not only does this render the Dream Team incomplete but what of the classic Chicago Bulls teams? Discovering that Sir Charles is only playable on the dream team and not on any classic team was an added disappointment.
Pregame rituals with warm-ups on – This is more of a nitpick than a con. Seeing Lebron do the chalk toss with warm-ups on just doesn’t look right.
UPDATE: via Jerson Sapida, Gameplay Producer of NBA 2K13
The warm-ups during pre-tip intros was a bug in the Gamescon demo. It's already fixed.
There you have it, my NBA 2K13 pros and cons so far. What are some of your pros and cons based on what we have seen to date?