NBA 2K is the top brand for basketball gamers all over the globe. The attention to detail in the gameplay systems, signature style of players, and authentic touches to create a true simulation experience are but a few reasons why the franchise is beloved. The series first arrived on iOS last year with a solid mobile version, but NBA 2K13 looks to take things up a notch to create the most full-featured simulation experience out there. Does 2K succeed? We break it down like a Kobe Bryant crossover and spin move combination.
NBA 2K is a very technical game. While it is easy to pick up the sticks on the console side and mess around to score on explosive dunks and special moves, the game really rewards those who use fundamental basketball strategy. With iOS, obviously, you don’t get to use sticks or buttons. So the challenge 2K has is figuring out how to capture the essence of what makes NBA 2K great with just a touch screen. NBA 2K13 has an interesting foundation aimed at trying to do just that.
Two control systems are available in NBA 2K13. One is classic controls, where you have a virtual joystick and buttons to execute basic functions like shooting and passing on offense, and stealing and blocking on defense. Outside of that, you have one-finger control, where it almost feels like controlling the game from a real-time strategy perspective. We say that because there is a layer of detachment from the actual moves and decisions being made in the game.
Traveling will not be tolerated.
Both systems have drawbacks. Using classic controls strips away some of the strategic options you have, like calling for double-teams and defensive pressure. The various coaching elements made available in one-finger mode don’t fully make up for the loss of one-to-one feedback. We would have loved a happy medium between both schemes, but we appreciate choice.
NBA 2K13 has a good number of modes to get lost in. The multiseason option allows you to select your favorite team and make a run for championships. You can do everything from simulating through the more mundane games on your schedule to changing the rotations on your bench. We were impressed by the ability to view stats, standings, and even make trades with opposing teams to improve our roster after injuries.
If playing through multiple seasons is too time consuming for you, multiplayer and the Greatest Games options may suit you better. NBA 2K13 allows you to play against others locally using Bluetooth or online through Game Center. Our experience with online matches has been everything from spotty to surprisingly smooth. We did not experience any disconnects regardless of the connection quality, and the stat tracking and leaderboards give a surprisingly robust set of options to review your overall performance.
On your toes, fellas.
The Greatest Games feature puts you in situations with Hall of Fame players to recreate classic games and performances from yesteryear. Accomplishing feats like Kobe’s 81 point game against Toronto or Jordan’s 63 point game versus the Celtics are tough but exciting to go after. There are plenty of scenarios to tackle here, and it appears new ones will be coming in a title update or paid DLC.
The presentation in NBA 2K13 is nearly flawless. All the players and arenas are reasonably captured, contributing the authentic tone of the game. Animations are also strong as players move with purpose, behaving like real players do. The cinematic touches are sweet, with dramatic cuts and replays after great plays. The crowd noise and commentary help fill out the atmosphere. On the other hand, player faces range from being acceptable to downright atrocious. We aren’t expecting console quality, but some superstars look like aliens. We should also note that NBA 2K13 is not currently optimized for full display on the iPhone 5.
All things considered, NBA 2K13 is a triumph on iOS. The amount of content and thoughtfulness included will excite any NBA fan. The biggest drawback that prevents us from giving a full unqualified recommendation is the lack of app stability. On more than one occasion, the game has frozen and/ or crashed during gameplay and navigating menus. A recent update has somewhat improved stability, but we are still getting crashes. These issues notwithstanding, NBA 2K13 accounts for itself very well and it will be the perfect companion for what promises to be the most exciting NBA season in a decade.