We never got a chance to review NBA 2K13 back when it released on the 360 and PS3. This makes taking the Wii U version for a spin pretty exciting. Not only do we see how the console handles the premiere basketball title, but also how it handles yet another port of a popular current generation game. NBA 2K13 on the Wii U is identical to its console counterparts in every facet. All the features are here, and the game looks just as good. This is one of the sharper ports in the Wii U launch library, and it’s definitely a game to check out if you are a fan of the sport.
The biggest change to the formula for this year’s game is the dribble stick. Here we get to use the right analog stick to perform crossovers and other moves to add style. I was always a fan of the shot stick, and thankfully that is still here. You now just have to hold the ZL trigger, and you can take your shot with the right analog. This mixup in the gameplay actually works, and creates a hybrid of the past few years. Once you get into the new scheme, it feels more natural than games in the past.
Cameos and legends round out the impressive roster this time around. Of course there are plenty of classic teams to choose from, but one of the biggest additions is the inclusion of the 1992 Dream Team. Every single superstar from that magical team is here, and they are definitely the best team to play with, except for the celebrities. Boasting nearly a perfect rating, the special guest stars of NBA 2K13 include famous people including Bow Wow, cast members from the Jersey Shore and even Justin Bieber. Not sure I was ever going to type that name, but 2K Sports has caused me to do so. I feel weird.
MyPlayer mode returns with some newly added features. This year you get to be more hands-on with your player allowing them to talk to managers about contracts and such, in addition to all of the features you are already familiar with. You can bring them up through the draft and watch them blossom into NBA superstars. These modes are always the best part of sports games simply for the progression. You really feel invested when you only have one player to worry about. It is also really cool that your on- and off-court actions affect your standing with teammates, fans and even the media.
MyCareer returns as well and allows you to focus on managing the career of your favorite teams and players. Signature Skills play a large role in this. Think of these as stat boosters and you get the idea. These come in a variety of flavors to assign to players. They can help with shooting from the outside or against defenders. Assigning these skills is simple, although you likely won’t notice them unless you are focusing on just one player. They are subtle enough that adding them might seem like they aren’t having any effect; that is until you start to notice your percentages go up. It is a great system, and kept me interested in building up specific players.
Presentation in NBA 2K13 is a mixed bag. On one hand, you have Jay-Z being clearly listed as the game’s executive producer on the box, and it shows. The soundtrack and videos before games are actually a really cool feature. Whether or not you are fan is irrelevant; it fits the tone of the game perfectly. The soundtrack features a plethora of artists, including Too Short and Kanye West, all of which set a nice backdrop.
The downside are the menus. This game is still a hot mess when it comes to informing the player. A lot of the new features are never explained well, and navigating through various options and such is a pain. It clearly feels like the game wasn’t designed with users in mind. I found myself bumbling around menus looking for something as simple as the sliders.
The Wii U specific features are really not that imperative to the experience. Like most launch games, it is nice to be able to play the game exclusively on the Gamepad without turning on the TV. When you use the screen as a secondary feature though, the changes are novel at best. You can hold the Gamepad horizontally level with the screen to scan players to see how hot they are. It is neat, but honestly I rarely used it. There are also coaching options that can be accessed from the screen, which is a little more useful. Like I said, if you prefer a specific controller or online service, these features are not enough to sway you to this particular version.
It never ceases to amaze me how much work is put into the NBA 2K series each year. The team definitely found their calling, and it would be nigh impossible for anyone else to get a foothold in the genre. Wii U owners looking for a solid basketball experience are in for a treat. This is one of the best ports available at launch, and it goes toe-to-toe with the other versions on every level. NBA 2K13 is a fantastic game no matter how you play it, and being available at the launch of a console gives the Wii U one more reason to celebrate.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.