Genre: Sport Developer: Visual Concepts Publisher: 2K Sports Classification: G Release Date: 4th Oct 2013 Platforms:
Average of 4 Ratings
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NBA 2K13 has a virtual currency system that may or may not be designed to get you to pay-to-win at its newest feature - My Team. My Team is in practice a basketball version of FIFA's wildly successful Ultimate Team mode - a sort of Trading Card Game mixed with a Fantasy League, mixed with a Auction House style economy which is far easier to understand in action than it is on paper. Neither TCGs or Fantasy Leagues slam my dunk though, so you'll have to forgive me if I skip giving a damn about it.
What is interesting is that in order for NBA 2K13's virtual currency system (it's imaginatively called Virtual Currency, or VC) to work as intended it needs to be protected from the less scrupulous members of the internet - those who would exploit weaknesses in the Xbox's security to flood a player run economy with illicitly obtained VC.
Does this sound familiar? It's the sort of problem Online RPG makers have faced for years - especially notable with this year's massive Diablo 3. The solution Blizzard employed was to require the user to be online at all times - and NBA 2K13 certainly takes steps in the same direction.
Of course, you don't have to be online at all times in NBA2K13, because that would be ridiculous, right? Instead, when you're not online you simply can't earn VC - in modes where VC is the primary method for progression (like MyCareer mode) you instead earn Skill Points, the system used in last year's game.
It's interesting solution to a problem, but it's tough to look past the fact that it's an issue imposed by the team at Visual Concepts themselves - and it's a tough sell to justify it. The problem is that while My Team will no doubt prove to be wildly popular, it's definitely a money maker program first - and a gameplay addition second.
Your card collection - the players you get in your starter pack grab bag - aren't starters for any basketball team anywhere. They're "bronze" level guys - a bunch of third string dudes who are certainly still better than 95% of everyone playing basketball in the world, but not setting the ring on fire.
To get better players you need to step into the NBA 2K13 marketplace and try to trade up. Maybe you can sell some of your guys to some less than savvy trader, but the reality is you're going to have to spend some of your hard-earned VC points if you want a silver or gold player. And seeing how VC points take a long time to earn in-game (and they're the aforementioned primary method for progression) you're looking at playing with Bronze level players for quite a while.
Or you could just buy some VC points from the Xbox Live Marketplace and use them to get you winning the My Team games early on. A Lebron or a Kobe will set you back about $8 (after converting MS Points to Aussie dollars), while a Metta World Peace is a mere $4. When you buy yourself a Gold player you have an easier time winning - which earns you more VC points.
I guess what I'm saying is - you can safely ignore My Team mode in NBA 2K13. What you can't ignore is the rest of the game, because it's probably the best sports game out this year. My Career mode - still the stand-out part of what is an altogether fantastic game - is even better this year thanks to even greater implementation of RPG features.
My guy - a Power Forward who looks disturbingly like me (but taller and fitter and better) - got picked 17th in the draft and was the sixth man for the Mavericks until he demanded a trade from the GM. This year you can just go into the GM's office, sit down with him and tell him what you want. Me, I wanted more minutes - a tough ask when you share the same position as Dirk Nowitzki. When he rightly told me no, I demanded a trade.
Naturally they sent me to the bloody Boston Celtics to compete for court time with Kevin Garnett and Jared Sullinger.
Still, I managed to make starter on the Rising Stars Challenge, I scored my first double double when they let me play an entire quarter against the Bobcats and the future for "The Bulldozer" (the commentators can't say "Joab") is looking very bright.
Another beautiful part of MyCareer is that your salary actually means something - you're paid in VC (or Skill Points, if you take the game offline) - so salary negotiations actually mean something. The role-playing aspect of the game is strong here - do you go where the most money is? Or do you take a pay cut and follow the path of Lebron and Bosh and go where you think you can put together a champion team?
Outside of the Career mode the game is - also - better than ever. There have been significant improvements to the AI of your teammates, which means you can create rudimentary plays simply by moving towards someone. Instead of simply standing there, stuck to the ground when you head in their direction (as they would in previous years) - now they'll shift away into an open area, and you can use this to create space for a shooter on the court.
The commentary continues to improve, the graphics look better than ever and - yes - Jay-Z has picked the soundtrack, and they've paired songs with in-game footage to make the pre-game presentation look better than ever. I don't agree with Jay-Z's song choices - I think even out of his own songs he has better options - and for some unknown reason the game refuses to acknowledge that I've turned off Kanye West's Mercy. Every time that song comes on, I die a little inside.
The new control system was really easy for me to pick up - I wasn't ever a stick shooter, so I haven't had any trouble adjusting to pulling the L-Trigger before a shot. Instead I only get the benefits of the new dribble controls - I can have players try their best to break ankles whenever I want, and if I get space to shoot I hit the X button and drain it.
NBA 2K13 really is a big list of great improvements - with the one qualifier to that statement being the MyTeam mode. It's a fantastic looking game - but more importantly, it's a fantastic feeling game. If you have even a passing interest in the current NBA, you should definitely pick NBA 2K13 up. And even if you don't care about the NBA any more, there's always the Dream Team - now with Barkley and Pippen.