NBA 2K13 is intent on keeping the hot streak going. There are the base concerns with any sports thing; a few fundamental mechanics are stirred in, a new control system introduced, and a slew of small changes. 2K remains adamant about labeling the new on menu while quietly addressing less impactful changes. It’s mechanically fine and how you want it — like last year, but hey, there are a couple new control stick ideas. The mechanics feel like basketball and like any good game, it’s easy to forget that you’re playing one. It’s all fairly intuitive.
Whereas the last couple years have been about establishing authenticity with the household name stars, this year looks towards the production end. The entry’s produced by rapper and Nets co-owner Jay-Z. This means several things. The New York scene is well represented. Jay-Z is well - if not over - represented. And Coldplay is now featured in a basketball game.
It’s an eclectic set of tracks ranging from New York’s current best to recognizable European acts. Not only is this far and away the best produced sports soundtrack but it’s one of the few that actually feels produced at all. This quality extends across all of NBA 2K13’s production but this is mostly blatantly true of the audio and this accounts for the vast improvements. It’s not only an essential basketball soundtrack but is one of the better efforts in any game last year.
There’s more to the choices than what licensing deals could be made and checking boxes. They are often the right songs and are otherwise good surprises that likely would’ve never made it into a basketball videogame otherwise.
The downside is rough edited cuts cleaned up for radio but too soft for the hard court. An option would be sensible, or choosing around these limitations, but NBA 2K13 forces the issue. Otherwise, there are only a couple poor fits and it’s naturally Jay-Z heavy, but the influence is what makes the soundtrack matter, so it doesn’t detract any. There’s enough Nas, Mobb Deep, Kanye, etc. that ego doesn’t overcome the thing.
NBA 2K remains an exemplary Sim and with every season, finds a fresh way to execute. This is a welcome new standard for sports videogames as a whole and with any luck, will generate interest in getting the audio right. There are only so many places left to make it new and NBA 2K13 has crossed another off the list.
Eight out of ten