I had the opportunity to play an early build of NBA 2K13 for 2 hours today. My impressions are based on the demo code for Gamescom (5 minute quarter, Miami Heat vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, limited options/couldn’t even call for a pick). I also received a demonstration from one of the games Producers at the 2K Business Area, as they showed the demo and a game between the Dream Team and the 2012 Olympic team.
NBA 2K13 feels a lot like NBA 2K12, with a lot of positives and one major negative. Let me go through everything one by one.
Defensive movement: No more sliding, warping and magical defense. If you are beaten by a player you have no chance to recover. That also means that you can’t recover from an opponent’s fast break, if you are not running back at the same speed than the offensive player. I can’t comment on the speed issue at the moment but fast breaks seemed pretty much the same to me as in NBA 2K12. But defensive movement and momentum were really the high points of the game for me today.
On Ball Defense: There are a lot of new animations, as seen in the latest trailer, with two players bumping into each other. But it all felt natural. Overall defense has been vastly improved. I also saw a great block on the perimeter by Lewis, that knocked the ball out of bounds. The blocks under the rim weren’t that great looking, but none of the awkward looking ones with the elbow, etc. as seen in NBA 2K12.
Double teams: Yes, I saw the CPU double team Bosh in the post – I don’t know about double teaming when a player is hot.
Graphics: I saw a slight improvement in the player models – but nothing spectacular at this stage, of course. Coaches looked better as well. I noticed some of the dunk animations are now a little faster than last year, which is a good thing, as I really didn’t like a lot of the slow dunk animations in 2K12. Now they animate more like NBA 2K8, if you can recall that game.
Collision system: Extremely improved over 2K12, with tons of animations when driving to the basket with full or slight body contact. Imagine the system in NBA 2K2 but with much more variety and outcomes. Is it better than the system with two player animations in 2K11? Hmm tough one – sometimes I had the feeling that once you’re in a dunk animation, at a certain point, there is no way the opponent will change the shot. I saw one instance where LeBron took off and the defensive player was just pushed to the side by the animation. I really can’t say if the system was real time physics based, because I saw some contact animations twice – but overall massive improvement. Right now I would say 2K11 still got the edge on this one but we´ll see just how varied it is when we get to play more.
Right Stick Dribble System: Well I don’t want to write much about this because I really didn’t like it. Not because it was badly implemented – but because I´m not a fan of the right stick dribble at all. I kind of knew that before. I’m sure you will like it.
Ok lets get to my one major complaint: Jump Shots. If you have no problem with them in 2K12 you´re fine. But I had. Big time. And it’s not fixed. What I am talking about is the disconnection I feel with the releases of the jump shots in 2K12 and now seen in 2K13. The release window is so small that there is none of that “jumping up and releasing the ball at the highest point of your jump” – it is like there is a quick animation playing out for the jump shot and I have no control over the release whatsoever. It’s hard to explain, I just don’t feel like I’m the one shooting the J. It’s best explained if you go to NBA 2K8 and take a shot with e.g. Carmelo Anthony or in 2K7 with Kobe. Smooth animation – high release point which is triggered not by an animation but by the release of the button. I was sad that it was not addressed. Also in 2K12 your player has a totally different jumper behind the three point line than usual, which is still in there, sadly.
Similarities to 2K12: 2K13 feels like 2K12 in a lot of ways. The movement is a bit smoother (especially on defense), the rim physics haven’t change a bit (which was a disappointment to me), passing wasn’t vastly different (to me..), jump shots (as mentioned), floor spacing, pre-game presentation and even the camera angle on tip-off. All areas looked like 2K12 to me.
- When the shot clock is running down and there is less than a second to play your player will automatically throw up a quick shot with one arm. Mine went in with Ray Allen.
- Off the ball fouls and over the backs are now more visible through collision animations.
- Dunks in traffic tend to not go in (when a foul is involved). Saw a couple of instances where the dunker would just throw it at the rim.
- Manual bounce pass – gotta love it.
- Ball feels a bit more loose this year.
- Dribble too much with the right stick and you will lose the ball.
- Post game seemed to be expended on as well.
- When you shoot a contested jump shot, your player will kick out his leg – nice addition.
- On replays your player is colored whereas all the other players are black and white – looked weird.
Overall, I really enjoyed it. It’s a pretty polished game with the issues from 2K12 mainly addressed. I’ll give high points for the defensive movement and collision system.