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Competition, according to free market economic principles, makes the dueling products better as each pushes to outdo the other. And thus, we consumers are the ultimate winners. But what if your chief – and really, only – rival kept finding new and astounding ways to spin out, leaving you as the only car on the road? Would you kick back, ease off the gas a bit, and set the cruise control? Would you keep the pedal to the metal anyway? Or would you drop the top, start turning down new streets, and see where the open road takes you?
NBA 2K13 unquestionably takes the latter path, lacing the latest version of its annual basketball simulation with wild features that, rest assured, take nothing away from the already stellar pro-hoops gameplay. Some of the new additions are great, while others you can live without, but, in the end, 2K13 is the pinnacle of basketball gaming on this generation of consoles.
A Court Fit for a King
2K13 has the cajones to mess with its tried-and-true simulation gameplay a bit. The pacing, flow, and feel all remain impeccable. The post-up game is not only playable but enjoyable. The big change is the right thumbstick-based Dribble Stick, which marries the Freestyle controls of last generation’s NBA Live titles with the existing NBA 2K Isomotion control scheme. Shooting is now accomplished by pulling in LT/L2 in combination with a right stick directional press. It certainly takes getting used to given the years of shooting without an additional trigger pull, and odds are you will, like me, occasionally forget and fail to take a wide open shot you meant to attempt. But you’ll eventually get used to it and grow to like the added dribble controls, as they’re not nearly as arcade-y as they were in NBA Live’s heyday, but still add an extra layer of player control to the gameplay.
2K13’s biggest problem – particularly with the Dribble Stick – is that none of its new features are explained well, if they’re explained at all. You’re never given a proper tutorial on the critical new dribble moves. Rather, the first time you start up the game, you’re treated to a screen that essentially says, “You can control your dribble with the right stick now. Wiggle it and see what happens!” So too are Signature Skills practically kept shrouded in secrecy unless you study the list of them in the main menu.