After a near-decade long self-imposed NBA 2k Series exile, I decided to make a comeback and play the new NBA2k13. Memories ensued. The year was 1995, the system was Super Nintendo. The game was NBA Live 95 and the atmosphere was intense. At the time, I had seemingly mastered the up and down tempo of the Golden State Warriors’ Run-TMC (Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin). I used a playing style that would serve me well through my high school weekends and later college “in-between-class-but-probably-during-if-we’re-being-honest” downtime. Run up-court, pass to the big, run to the basket, dunk. Easy. Run back, block, start the fast break. Rinse and repeat. And throw in a sideways, out of bounds three-pointer for good measure.
Then arrived NBA 2k. The controls were more precise. Advancements in console controllers led to more game-time actions and opportunities. And turnovers. But lots of opportunities. The game was slower, more deliberate. My circle of gamers organically navigated towards the NBA2k series in the early 2000’s and never drifted back. I mastered the controls and eventually the game, before the real world (i.e., a real world job and responsibilities) stole the remote.
Then came NBA2k13. The newest NBA2k13 brought me to a place, with Jay-Z controlling the radio, I haven’t visited since undergrad. A place where I didn’t know the controls, didn’t understand free throws, didn’t understand the art of steals, and generally felt scared and confused. I’ve played NBA2k on Playstation, X-Box, and X-Box 360, and every time I’ve picked up a controller, there’s been an adjustment period on the freewheel fundamentals of NBA Live. This time was no different, and possibly more frustrating just because of the sheer brilliance that is NBA2k13.
To compliment the game play experience of NBA2k13, one must navigate the frustrating user interface that also plagues this installment. The homescreen is confusing to navigate unless you’re looking for a quick exhibition game. It took me 30 frustrating minutes to set up a season with the New York Knicks and play my first game. I have two degrees and several certifications in my field and yet it took me 10 minutes to figure out “Calendar” is the way to play games. (Seriously. Why does it take that long?)
Along the way, customizing a season really boils down to whether you play with injuries or not. I’m pretty sure there’s a psychological test that comes along with people who play seasons with injury updates and those who don’t. I’m on the “no injury” side, FYI.
Two minutes into the game and I was down 15 points to the Brooklyn Nets. I lost that game by 20. The next game, I lost by 30. Then came Philly. I lost by 40.
Something had to give. A rage quit was on the horizon.
The game, fortunately, understands that beginners are usually not good. The Training Camp mode is excellent. I was able to maneuver from pod to pod, learning bounce passes, give and go’s, rip jumpers and jab steps. I had to re-learn the magnitude which is the NBA2k series. I played exhibition games on Rookie mode, which gave me further insight into how different teams pick up the habits of their real life squads. Oklahoma City plays fast and unpredictable. San Antonio plays methodically. New York can’t rebound.
The standout change from the previous installment, NBA2k12, would be the usage of the RS Button. No longer is an often-times clunky and unreliable shot-stick, the RS Button is useful to perform cross-over dribbles, fancy post shuffles and pass lane deflections. The emotionally scarred Knicks fan in me will never use the ’93-’94 Houston Rockets, which conflicts with my current desire to play the post with Hakeem the Dream. Maybe ’93-'94 simulation John Starks will drain that three in Game 6.
There are other modes of the game that have standalone potential. My Player mode offers in-game currency, VC Points, as incentive to play games and modes – and is redeemable in avatar accessories. VC Points can be earned through various modes of the game. My favorite mode so far is The Blacktop Mode , or NBA2k’s answer to NBA Streetz. The asphalt court seems real enough to bruise a knee. And playing outdoors with Oscar Robertson is fun. The Create a Legend mode is my least favorite game mode. Create a Legend was the embodiment of every dull corner NBA 2k’s user experience presents. I picked Eric Bledsoe as the User player, went to the next games menu layer, and ended up on simulation play for the next three minutes of my life. Not cool. And not fun.
After a week-long self-imposed training camp exile, I am making a comeback with NBA2k13. I am enjoying the game play experience and feel pride in my improved pick and roll. NBA2k13 is not the game for instant gratification, like the professional athletes featured on the game, skill is learned by practice and perseverance. My 82-game season with the New York Knicks is still early, and we’re off to a 5-7 start. Maybe by All-Star break, I’ll be crushing opponents like my days of Run TMC.