Hey Guys! I finally have a little bit of time after getting home to write some impressions on everything we saw yesterday. First of all it was a great day with everybody at 2k! Both Ronnie and Chris were very accommodating, as well as all of the dev team. The game we played was the gamescom build that just had 1 quarter (5 minutes long) with just the Thunder and Heat. It is just a little over 2 weeks old and it was on pro level. We played user vs. user, as well as user vs. CPU. There was no play calling L and no setting picks either. Before I left to 2K I had said I was going to concentrate on 3 things, playbooks, online, and gameplay. So, keep in mind that I can only talk about gameplay right now, BUT I did get answers and spoke with the devs on all the listed areas above.
Let me start by saying that 2k does not tell us what to say! LOL! I will give you all 100% my honest opinions and answers. I’m by no means a yes man and if I saw something I didn’t like I made sure either the devs, Ronnie, or Chris knew about it. That being said, this game has been getting tweaked for 2 weeks now since the build we played. It will also be polished some more for the next week or so. So, all my opinions are based off of the build we played. I am also not a game reviewer or a great writer so keep the critiquing of my review to a minimum please?! LOL!
To start, this game definitely has a learning curve to it. I know people don’t like change and I think early on, upon release it will get mixed reviews because some people will be trying to adapt to a new system and / or not like it. It took me a few games to pick up the new dribbling system, as well as getting used to pressing LT for shots. On top of that, the hop step button is now B, LT also controls bounce passes, etc. Some picked up the controls faster than others, especially me, as I have never been an iso move guy anyways, so it’s not really my cup of tea. That being said the new dribbling system is extremely responsive and some of the moves, especially in the default cam, were easier to pull off once I had learned a few of these moves.
For example, the double crossover was so smooth. It was nice to be able to string off 1 move and put it into another and not get stuck in an animation, while having to wait for it to play out. I really loved the slow hesitation dribbles as well, by simply pointing the Right stick towards the defender or hoop. Because the LT is used for shots now, it ended up with me doing some pretty dumb stuff when I broke a defender down and then thought I was shooting or going in for a dunk or layup to just end up dribbling again and go right under the hoop. Again, there is a definite learning curve here. I didn’t like having to hit the LT plus the shot stick to shoot. I love and am very thankful that 2k gave us the option to switch these controls to our liking this year. I think letting each user play the way he wants and is comfortable with and giving us options like this is huge! What one person loves, another one hates, so instead of making us adapt to one way or the 2k way, they let us make our own decision. BRAVO! That being said, I really want to try out the LT and the right stick together as the dribble moves and keep the shot stick open. This in my head seems to make more sense to me. I have always used the shot button for jump shots and the Right stick for layups, dunks, or post moves. The nice part about doing this is you can still do basic dribbles with just the left stick anyways. You can still crossover by simply moving left or right on the left stick as always, so if you want to get advanced dribble moves then you would or can just press down on LT and have at it. I saw some great shot animations and variations on pull-ups with different guys depending on how and where the defensive player was. This to me was also a learning curve with shooting off the dribble. The pull up jumpers felt more responsive than 2k12 and I thought they were pretty good in 12. It feels like you can stop on a dime and pull up now. I struggled early with the step back or hop step back as you need to neutralize the stick before shooting or you will be shooting a fade away to the side jumper. LOL! I’m glad we don’t have any footage from the 1st few games!
Passing has been improved, but to me it was still too slow. I brought this up to the devs, as realistically the ball should move quicker than a defender. It bugged me last year and it still does, but I will say passing has been improved. There is no pressure sensitive passing this year unfortunately. I would like to see tapping pass equaling a lob and holding for a bullet pass eventually and in 14. I spoke on this as well with devs so we will have to wait and see. Just so everyone knows, they are still tweaking the game, but it was said to me that a simple tweak in this 1 area of speeding up passes can screw up so many other areas in the game that it becomes a fine line in balancing it out. I had thrown out that I would like to see a pass slider speed option so the user could play the way he or she wants and adjust to their liking. Again, this apparently ties into the catch animations and is more than just tweaking a number here or there. That being said the bounce passing is AWESOME and a GREAT addition to 2k13! This was balanced perfectly IMO as there was a risk/reward for throwing this pass in different situations. A few times I had the pass stolen, but at the same time I had some beautiful feeds on the break in a 2 on 1 and 3 on 1 situations. Gone are the days of psychic defenders on the break stealing passes and jumping the lanes knowing where you are going to pass it to. It just felt like when the situation was right to throw the bounce pass like in real life it was successful as it should be. On the other end of things I made a bad read one time on the break and tried to throw the bounce pass between 2 defenders to no avail thankfully. This is one of my favorite additions this year. For the record, I’m not sure the other guys ever even tried this on a break as they were living in lob city all day! LOL!
Defense and on ball defense is 50/50 for me and I’m still not sure how I feel about it yet. The help side defense with all the proper rotations has all been fixed. They made an adjustment to the AI from 12 where the CPU AI did not recognize which way to help properly. So, in the rotations, if a guy went and drove middle or baseline it was not recognized properly by the AI. I did see a few times though on a post entry pass where the CPU would almost triple team the post. My CPU teammate would drop to help as I was already helping on strong side defense with my guard. Not sure why and hopefully that is tweaked a bit more so the CPU defense is aware that there is already a double down low and to rotate properly. One thing I was told and that I saw on occasion was that the ball is a lot more live than it was last year and I agree with that statement, but I would still like to see some work done with this in a few areas. I did bring this up to the devs. It has always bugged me when the post entry pass is made and I go to double team the post with my guard and I swipe at the ball 10+ times without even touching it. I loved how this was in the early years and I believe it was 2k1 with “the glove”. That being said it was mixed because I did go down and swipe with LBJ once and knocked the ball out. Other times I would still swipe away (testing purposesJ) to no avail. I think the post player shouldn’t have all day to make a post move. If the double comes they should pass out and swing the ball to the open man and make the defense pay for doubling down on them, but at the same time I don’t think the offense should receive such an advantage in the post to have all day to make a move and back guys down. In real life, post players need to make decisions quickly so I would like to see that better implemented. That being said, post players now have new animations with keeping the ball up high and the defenders will swipe at ball differently in different situations. I didn’t really get the shading defense to 1 side down. I did it a few times though and forced a player baseline and a bumping animation took the other player right out of bounds a few times. I liked it, but at the same time it felt like the offensive player lost control and had no chance to recover or save himself from going out of bounds and turning the ball over. I guess it’s a risk/reward for driving baseline unless tweaked before going gold. On ball defense is definitely improved and I LOVE the riding of a player on a drive whether that is realistic or not to the real NBA with fouls. There has to be a counter to the offense in a video game especially online. That being said I felt like the defense was to slow in recovery and this needed to be sped up a bit. You definitely need to play angles like in real basketball, but I felt the offensive player was way more explosive on a 1st step that would leave a defensive player 4-5 feet behind him with no chance to make a play or contest a shot. I did address this and voiced my opinion on this with the devs as well and they are still tweaking and fine tuning it. I will say though this is hard to tell as Westbrook will blow by Chalmers in real life and it sets guys apart from each other. I could also tell defenders like Shane Battier were faster than others defensively. So, jury is out on this for me. I would still like to see it tweaked though.
The driving animations and contact in the paint and on drives is awesome! LeBron feels like LeBron now. He can outmuscle a Kevin Durant in different situations as well it should be, but it was balanced where Durant could still body up and stay with him if played correctly. I would see Durant getting knocked back at times, but not the other way around when facing each other. When LeBron would attack the rim you could feel his strength in getting to the hole. I saw some great animations with fouls that still ended up with players getting shots up. This was balanced well to as I did not see many, if any of them go in. You felt like LBJ when playing with him. There are also some great triple threat animations and bumping on the perimeter game between defender and ball handler before a dribble has been used. It is another risk/reward situation for a defender playing to close depending on skill and quickness of the player he is guarding.
The player reactions after plays, dunks, fouls have been upgraded and really draw you in more this year. You see a lot more emotion out of the players.
Alley oop dunks were a bit much for me and I did bring this up to the devs as well. Apparently it had already been fixed from the build we were playing yesterday. I saw 3 out of bounds alley oops that ended in reverse dunks. All by the user, for the record. I hope they tweak the success rate of these plays and eliminate the reverse dunk on an out of bounds alley oop! I can see a regular 2 hand power dunk maybe but not a reverse dunk in this situation. And the success rate needs to be taken down as well.
Double teams are back in! Yes, you heard me double teams are back!
Player speed differential has been spread out. No longer can Andrew Bynum out run Derrick Rose on the break and no longer will you see him stay in front of Rose on a mismatch and 1 on 1 iso! This was awesome to see. A few times I had LeBron at the top of the key and Collison ended up guarding me. Let’s just say he didn’t have a chance!
Flops are also in and another cool addition. Yes, you can do these anywhere on the court and it’s a pretty cool animation too. I never saw a foul called with it though. I heard charges are possible by user vs. CPU but I never had a problem with that last year if done properly. I didn’t see the CPU take any charges though.
Hop step button took a bit of getting used to as it wasn’t exactly like it was in 2k11. The hop step was not cheese from what I saw. It was balanced right. The step back and hop steps away for a jumper are not like 11 which I personally liked. It took me a while to get the hang of it and getting used to it being on the B button. I always liked the triangle for this but that is post game button still. It will just take getting used to and retraining my mind.
Floaters in 2k13 have been addressed. The devs wanted you to feel like playing with Chris Paul, Tony Parker, and Steve Nash wasn’t a liability and limited in certain areas like the middle of the lane and with the floaters. This will now separate these players from others.
Sig skills are going to be a great addition. We saw a few of them from the build we played. Ones that stood out to me was a 4th quarter, microwave, quick release, and closer. The 4th and closer were topics I brought up to the devs as we talked about wanting to see the stars having the ball in their hands in the 4th quarter of games, having plays ran for them, and taking those game winning shots! On that note I will tell you that the clutch rating is now gone! So, hopefully all those last second 24 second shots went bye bye. (I hope I could say that?! J) Another side note is you can heat check your player 1 of 2 ways. If your player is hot, he will have the fire sign underneath him. If you turn those off in menus, as it’s not exactly aesthetically pleasing to the eye, then you can still see if a player is hot or not by icon passing and seeing if his circle around his icon is red or yellow. Up on the D pad brings up the players stats now and is not a camera view switch. This was the only button that worked in our build we played.
CPU AI is greatly improved in almost all aspects! I saw the CPU make a flare pass for the 1st time ever on a back screen, which was absolutely beautiful to see! I saw the CPU make a pass and relocate by either cutting or spreading out the floor for a kick out jumper. If you drive towards a guy in freelance he will recognize this and cut or auto space. The CPU will now attack either way on PNR and read how the defense is playing them. We should see some great backdoors, flares, and curls when the AI reads and reacts to how we are playing defense on them. The defense will also double on a hot player and that issue was addressed as I mentioned earlier. I’m sure a lot of you like myself would like to hear that again for a 3rd time though! J Back to the AI, the great part I noticed as well was the AI with my own teammates. I would throw the ball into the post and my player would cut or relocate as well. I had a few really nice give in go’s that I had never really seen before. Cuts were great and fast too…
The beginning presentation with the live picture from the arena is awesome looking and really brings you into the game. The crowd was upgraded slightly too. I saw once where the ball was swatted out of bounds into the stands and the crowd reacted to the ball. Nice little touch and addition this year.
Up and under success rates as well as hop step spin dunks have all been addressed and tweaked with success rates being lowered. I tried the up and under a good 7-8 times and got some varied results which was great! I saw contact animations, I got fouled a few times, I got stood back up once, and I scored a few as well… All in all I liked the balance there.
I came into this event with 4 pages of notes and questions. I had my own stuff as well as some common areas from the community from constant reading through the forums. I had no idea what I was going to be able to get to and what questions I would be able to have answered. That being said I got everything out there that I wanted to discuss. I had Rob Jones ear for a good 45 minutes 1 on 1! I made sure to leave my notes with them as well. LOL! One thing I learned is these guys love the game just like we do. They play basketball just like we do, they are fans of the game just like we are, and they want what we want! They understand the little nuances within the game as well. The things that bug us bug them just as much if not more so. I will say this though; the team this year addressed every one of my issues as well as most of the community’s issues with the game last year! Now whether these areas are perfect or not remains to be seen, but even addressing the issues head on and showing improvement in key areas whether big or small is huge! I would rather have an area with small improvements made from year to year, as opposed to not even touching the area for a year or two so they can redo it completely. Some might not agree, but the passion these guys have for this game is truly inspiring to see. They have a good pulse on what the community wants as well, which surprised me a bit to be honest. All in all I was amazed at how much this dev team did in 1 cycle! They addressed almost all major issues that we brought up. I will be excited to talk to everyone about the playbooks and the changes that were made in that area once we are able too! I think we will have a much better playing CPU and smarter AI right out of the box for sure! This will be the best NBA 2k ever without a doubt! Once everyone gets past the button changes and learning curve they will find that this is the deepest basketball game I think we have ever seen.
In closing, I did want everyone to know I did bring up all the playbook ideas and suggestions I had, that most have seen in my blogs. I had a long list with more issues and ideas as well that I brought in too. I did bring up the online issues although we were not discussing that, but all the online guys can be assured they are aware of all issues and complaints within different areas of the game. Unfortunately, I cannot discuss any of these areas as they have not put any info out on any of this stuff yet, but with that being said, I think a lot of people will be happy and all the voices from the community were definitely heard. Crew was also very well represented and talked about from another team up member, along with my player being discussed with some of the other invitees, as those were their key areas of expertise.
On a side note I did throw out one idea that the devs seemed to love, that we will most likely see in 2k14, not 13. I don’t think I can say what it is though, but the other team up guys really liked it, as well as the devs and neither had ever really given it much thought. But for a user, it could be a big advantage during a game?!
All in all this was a great experience and I just wanted to say thank you to 2K, Ronnie, Chris, Mike, Jerson, Erick, Rob, Zach, OS, Steve, da czar, Shakedown, Spade, Smallz, Ipodking, and everyone who played a roll in this opportunity and experience. I think it was great all across the board for the series of 2K basketball and the SIM community. I tried to hold it down for all the SIM heads out there! If it’s any solace, this whole experience ruined 2K12 for me! Haha! October 2nd cant come soon enough!