NBA 2K13 Hands-On feat. Erick Boenisch
NBA 2K13 Hands-On feat. Erick Boenisch
The demo room at 2K's office is dark and cool - a welcome respite from the baking heat outside. Inside sits Erick Boenisch, a Producer on NBA 2K13 and a self-confessed RPG nut. Jay-Z plays through the room's sound system - appropriate, as the "Executive Producer" on the game chose six of his own songs for the game's soundtrack. It's naturally the first thing I question Erick on - what did Jay-Z bring to the table?
"Well, he's a huge fan of basketball - he's part owner of the Brooklyn Nets - and he hand-selected the soundtrack, he directed us as far as where the songs play in the game and when you see the game, the presentation is outstanding - we've blended the actual music videos for these songs with all of our in game footage and this is the first time we've ever truly blended the culture of basketball and music for the game."
It's a fair answer. It's definitely in evidence in the game - Erick mentions that they call it the "Music Edition" of the NBA franchise - but presentation isn't everything. We're in the demo room for a reason - I'm going to show Erick that we Aussies aren't slouches when it comes to handling 'the rock'. (I'm so white.)
I pick the Heat, which has to annoy Boenisch - a lifetime Lakers fan - and I kick off the trash talk early when I see the Lakers are ranked as first in both Offense and Overall stats. Dwight Howard is a monster Centre, so I can understand how they look on paper - but that doesn't stop me from throwing out allegations of stat fixing anyway.
The game begins and I'm very insistent that he doesn't take it easy on me, but it's clear when my Alley-Oop pass from Lebron to Wade goes uncontested that he is. While playing it's impossible to ignore the sheer quality of the players on the court - Wade, Lebron, Kobe, and Dwight were all finalists for 2012 London Olympics Team USA selection - and Kobe made no bones about what he thought of the team's abilities, claiming they were better than the fabled 1992 Dream Team.
I'd played a game as the Dream Team against GAP co-host Luke Lawrie and we'd noticed some interesting player ratings - Lebron and Jordan were rated 99 overall - and I asked for a bit of background on how they'd put those teams together.
"We changed those ratings, actually, to make the competition a bit more interesting. We have the full Dream Team in the game this year with Barkley, Pippen and even Christian Laettner - just to give it that level of accuracy."
I asked him how he got Barkley and Pippen on the team - Sir Charles had been a holdout the year before when they attempted to put Jordan's dream team in the game - and his answer took us back to Jay-Z.
"Actually, it was really easy once we had Jay-Z on board. We told him Charles was a hold-out - that he didn't want to be in the game and he wasn't having any of it. Like one phone call later Jay-Z had Charles agreeing to be in the game. And then 24 hours later we had Pippen as well."
So even if he didn't pick my favourite songs, it's apparent Jay-Z was a positive influence on the game.
Of course you can't add some Jay-Z songs and a retired All-Star to the game and call it a day - you've got to make some real changes if you're going to compete with the likes of FIFA. NBA 2K13 doesn't slouch there - not at all. The biggest change is the alterations they made to the stick system.
"It's a very intuitive system that gives you full control over the game like you've never had before. We think of it like the left stick is for the player, the right stick is for the ball. You do simple moves by moving the (right) stick in any direction you want the player to move with the ball and he'll do that.
So if he's dribbling the ball and I want him to switch between hands, I'll just flick the right stick back and forth left and right in time with the animation and he'll do that. If I twirl the stick from 3 o'clock on down he'll do a half spin - or a full spin if I wrap it all the way around. These things kind of make sense when you're playing the game - so it's really easy just to pick up and play. This was a very big decision for us to make - the shot stick has been a staple of the NBA 2K franchise for the better part of a decade now - but we still have that, all you have to is pull down the Left Trigger (we're playing on 360) and you'll activate the shot stick like previous years."
I take this as an opportunity to sink a few cheeky threes via Ray Allen while Erick is goofing around with the sticks - I've always been a button shooter in the NBA games, and when Erick makes the game level again it seems to me like he only uses the Left Trigger+Right Stick combo when dunking.
The final thing I get to talk to Erick about is the RPG nature of their My Player mode - now called My Career in NBA 2K13.
"I'm a huge fan of RPG games and I think you can see that in this year's My Career mode. We really worked on improving the RPG elements of the mode - I think it's stronger in our game than in others. One feature we added is called GM Sit Downs. At any time you can go and meet with the team GM - you sit down in his office and you get off whatever's on your mind.
So I can say 'You know I really like the job Coach is doing, I think you guys should extend his contract.' or 'Coach is not giving me minutes - give me a new coach or I'm going to leave the team.' And he might listen to you, or he might not. If you do it in your rookie year he might just tell you he appreciates your time, but he doesn't give a damn what you think."
Little touches like that give you a bit more connection to both your team and your player - which is very RPG. I know in previous year's I'd carefully try to answer press conference questions in a way that would make me as popular as possible - though I'd always have my guy speak his mind if I thought my team had let me down. I'm looking forward to demanding more minutes from my GM... just because I can.
NBA 2K13 is shaping up to be a cracker of a title. New RPG elements, a revamped skill system, better presentation than ever and the opportunity to play as the full Dream Team have me pumped for another year's worth of working my way up from Rookie to Superstar. Stay tuned for our review, coming later this week. Oh, and our game ends - the Lakers win with a pair of clutch threes in the last 10 seconds to win by five. At least he didn't go easy on me.
Comments on this Article
Wed 03 Oct 12, 9:25amlimimi
Posted: Wed 03 Oct 12, 9:25am
Post Your Comment
Recent News Entries
The Weekly Update - Fighting Game Fun
Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag hoists new trailer high
EA doing away with Online Passes
Grand Turismo 6 official, coming to PS3 later this year
Nvidia Shield available in the US in June