What a day! Played a Rookie showcase game. Did interviews with the general managers of the Houston Rockets, Portland Trailblazers and Denver Nuggets. Then got drafted to the second of these teams for the NBA (Mock) Draft. I did all of this, of course, on 2K’s great looking, shiny new NBA 2K13.
In the MyCAREER mode, the start was customizing my character, which in my case was a much fitter, taller and slightly younger version of my pale Scottish/Irish lineage self. It could happen, someone with my background could get drafted to the NBA...
Onto the Rookie Showcase game and this is how a player such as myself, a point guard hailing from Australia, is able to be accurately ranked against those who’ve been playing the last few years for a US college team. A Teammate Grade was formulated during the game from how I played in terms of scoring, defensive transitions, allowing the other team to score and turnovers. This grade rated my overall performance in the game and is a feature present in the NBA games once drafted.
From there, the interviews with interested team’s general managers threw questions at me to comment on in one of four ways each time. The answers varying significantly and affecting how interested the team may be in acquiring me in the draft but also to gauge how much I wanted to play for that team. This is when I noticed something alarming about my customized character. While I was able to get my facial features somewhat similar to that of my own, and my physique looked as it might had I actually been in the running to be an NBA player, my voice was more like a subtle, slower Ice-T. I don’t expect an Australian accent, but the one I had did not seem a fitting match for my pasty complexion.
Being drafted 11th I was pleased at that position and while it wasn’t my desired team, it was probably my top choice out of the three options I had. From there the contracts were drawn up at 500 VC (Virtual Currency) per year for 2 years.
This currency is also earned in each game for scoring, performing well, winning the game and achieving Dynamic Goals in the game. I found I could also lose VC in the game by turning over the ball and getting a foul, as well as performaning poorly in the overall game. Drills will also payoff depending what level you achieve, if you reach the minimum that is. These are made up of offensive, fundamentals and combination drills and have three options within each.
The Dymanic Goals pop up toward the end of a game to give you an objective to work on based on how you’re performing in that game. It could be something as simple as not to give up another turnover before the end of the game or score with the next shot you get. This will then escalate with your skill level.
While the left stick, button and trigger play mechanics are already quite intuitive and time well with movement and momentum, Visual Concepts have added the ability to use the right stick for ball movement. This could be for things like crossovers and spins but also for a more intuitive timed shot, relying on the right stick for wind up and release at the peak.
Legends training camps are a good way to learn the ways of the newly added right stick control system, with big names such as Jordan, Olajuwon, Rodman and more in there. These will set you back some VP though, depending on the profile of the legend you train with, but are useful to learn all the tricks of the newly added system.
If drills and training camps aren’t your thing or you just fancy some freeplay, you can also opt for a bit of shootaround or a scrimmage to do things on your own terms.
What is the VC really for though if you keep earning it? Well you could spend it on the training camps like mentioned, but a good part of this will probably go to the player upgrades for attributes and signature skills. The attributes will upgrade the level of all the shot styles your player does as well as passing, ball handling, rebounds and so on. Whereas the signature skills buy more specific traits such as corner specialist shooting or alley oop setup skills all at varying levels and costs.
On top of that, and perhaps more importantly, this VC can be used for pimping out your player in the freshest gear - kicks, jeans, tees and other apparel, favourite team apparel and even accessories. All stored in your player closet once purchased.
Press conferences after games and the option to go and talk to your GM at various times to get certain things off your chest add even more to the immersive feeling the game already offers. How you perform in a game as well as how you respond in press conferences will have an impact on your public popularity and the social media attention you receive. You can also boost your team chemistry by doing things like taking the whole team out to dinner, this will of course cost you more VC, but make for better cohesion in games.
I’m not normally one to play through much of a campaign mode in a sports game. With all great systems in place and the truly immersive career mode as well as the ability to skip the game parts you’re out of with substitution simulations, as well as options to play only key games, I found myself wanting to see how close to NBA superstardom I could get.
A sports game like this shines when competing with friends though, whether a quick game on the couch or online, the chance to pit your favourite teams and players against each other with you and your friends at the controls brings out the b-ball fan in anyone. With teams like Miami Heat, LA Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Boston Celtics, the classic teams, the 2012 Olympic team as well as the addition of the 92 Olympics US dream team, there are so many amazing players in there. But that’s not all, the celeb team offers the chance to play as your favourite celebrity. From (Lil) Bow Wow to Brian Baumgartner of The Office fame and Pauly D to… you guessed it, Justin Bieber. How is this kid everywhere? Either way, there is a lot of fun and some laughs to be had. Alley oops and dunk intensity rating from Sprite offer more to aim for when using the right players in the right situations, making the win and the bragging rights even sweeter.
Other modes that are back include The Association (online as well), season, playoffs and creating a legend, so there’s pretty much something here for every NBA fan and playing style.
If you want a little more of a neighbourhood half-court game, NBA Blacktop offers 1-1 up to 5-5 matches for between one and four players, and you can choose any player you like, assuming you’ve bought the top players at a VC price. Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to offer much more in the way of additional features, plays, moves or dunk intensity. The All-Star Weekend DLC will of course offer a slam dunk and three point contest, all-star challenge and the all-star game.
Jay-Z’s listing as executive producer on the game obviously shows through in the soundtrack, which is well selected and timed. He is also credited as being responsible for the inclusion of the 92 Dream Team and the 2012 Olympic Team and there’s talk that Scottie Pippen’s (and Charles Barkley’s) inclusion in the Dream Team is also his doing. Either way, the soundtrack is great and his name looks good on the cover of the box.
The game looks great and plays extremely intuitively, whether you stay with the buttons or go to the new right stick mechanics. I’d suggest converting sooner than later, it’s the future, unless you would prefer to go for the Kinect controls that are also available and are the actual future. The story line offers great depth and the quick games, online play and other modes are great for any kind of player. The biggest and best yet!