Over at IGN.com, news that you would be able to play as the 1992 Dream Team in NBA2K13 came along with some more information on the already announced Signature Skills. In addition to the Brick Wall and Floor General skills we learned about in Samit Sakar’s preview for Polygon, IGN’s Ryan McCaffrey tells us that we can:
Expect upwards of 30 of them total, with each player having up to five of the passive abilities. Clutch, Deadeye, Lockdown Defender, and others will make the stars just a little more accurate to their real-life counterparts, and in My Player you’ll be able to develop them with your custom avatar.
So that’s five skills announced, but that leaves 25 or more that we don’t yet know about. Keeping in mind the approach that games like FIFA have taken to adding specialized skills for individual players, what are some of the other possible skills for NBA2K13 to include and how might they be implemented?
Court Vision: The already announced Floor General skill (for players like Derrick Rose and, presumably, Chris Paul and Steve Nash) will increase a team’s overall offensive awareness, but what about a skill that gives a higher success rate to difficult passes? This would be a good way to incorporate the outlet passing skills of big men like Kevin Love and the trickier misdirection passes of his teammate, Ricky Rubio. Applied to players like Andre Iguodala, it could help turn small forward and power forwards into point forwards without having to boost their overall passing skill.
Power Dunker: Dunks by players like Dominique Wilkins and Shawn Kemp have sometimes been felt to be worth more than just the two points that went up on the scoreboard for the way they could demoralize an opposing team through sheer force. A skill like this applied to Blake Griffin would provide a slight hit to the opposing team’s Defensive Awareness or other ratings for a few plays to give a little more impact to truly stupendous throwdowns.
Fastbreak Assassin: Back in NBA2K1 and 2K2, it seemed like some players just took off faster than others on fast break opportunities. For whatever reason, the ability to run the break against the CPU has been tamped down in NBA2K12, but following plenty of complaints from players, there’s hope that effective fast breaks will make a comeback this year. Players like Russell Westbrook seem to have a sixth sense for the break, getting out ahead of everyone for the easy score and this skill could mean a quicker turn and launch up the court.
PUJITs: Coaches may hate them, but there’s no denying that players like Jason Terry have turned the pull-up-jumper-in-transition into an artform. Previous installments of NBA2K would find you pulling up on the break if you shot it too early, and these shots would rarely find the iron. But this skill would make the PUJIT a legitimate offensive weapon and improve your chances of hitting such a shot while on the move.
Hot Hand: We already know there’s going to be a Clutch skill (which will probably mean players like Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant will have a better chance of hitting a shot when the game is on the line), so why not a Hot Hand skill? The actual existence of either clutch or the hot hand in the real world is hotly debated, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be in a video game. NBA2K has had hot and cold streaks for shooters for a while, but for players like Ray Allen or Ben Gordon (who went nine-for-nine from downtown this past season in one game) getting on a hot streak should mean more. Make a couple in a row and this skill makes another dropping more likely.
Anklebreaker: If you’ve played any fighting video games, you’re familiar with the concept of staggering the opponent. Lay out enough damage quickly enough in the Street Fighter franchise and your opponent will be seeing stars. This skill would do something similar for NBA2K. It wouldn’t happen all the time and wouldn’t be dependent upon a certain set of moves, but some combination of chance and ability with the new Control Stick coupled with this skill would mean definitively knocking the defender off-balance to create an opening like Allen Iverson.
And-One Expert: Some players are great at getting contact when they’re driving to the rim. In fact, skilled young players--like Derrick Rose at the beginning of his career--would often shy away from contact on drives, but now actively seeks out opposing players bodies in an effort to draw the foul. A skill like this would mean players would make tougher shots in the lane, plus get the benefit of the referee’s whistle a little more often.
Ballhawk: Likewise, steals have traditionally been dictated only by a player’s Steal rating. The Ballhawk skill could reflect the ability of players like Chris Paul to poke the ball loose at just the right time or snatch passes out of midair. Applied to frontcourt players, it could reflect a player’s ability to strip the ball from opposing big men in the paint.
Flopper: This would be sure to be a controversial Signature Skill, but applied to players like James Harden, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker, it would allow these players to get more charge calls in the open court. Or maybe “Flopper” is too harsh: players like Shane Battier just seem to have a knack for getting in the way of driving players and getting the call. With word of improved collision physics and the promise of diverse ways to play defense, a skill like this would go a long way towards making taking charges fun.
Double Down: Player tandems like Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan were absolutely lethal when trapping the ballhandler near the halfcourt line, but in the NBA2K series, the best you can reasonably hope for is a jump ball. With this skill, the player’s participation in double teams will be extra effective, resulting in more steals and forcing more bad passes that become turnovers.
Glass Eater: For a long time, the NBA2K series has based rebounding ability around three factors: rebounding rating, height, and vertical. But power fowards like Kevin Love and even guards like Jason Kidd have shown that rebounding is as much about timing and position as hops and length. A skill like this would reflect that and lead to increased out-of-area rebounds and better boxing out by the players with it.
Defensive Lynchpin: If players like Derrick Rose can boost their entire team’s Offensive Awareness, it’s only right that a player like Kevin Garnett--who transformed the entire defensive ethos of the 2007-08 Boston Celtics--should be able to provide a boost to his entire team’s defensive awareness. This skill would be a valuable and underrated one to look for in building a team.
The above are just some of the possibilities for Signature Skills in NBA2K13. What are others that can make the gameplay more diverse and entertaining?