NBA 2K13 – QandA With 2K Sports

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Game Freaks 365 recently had the chance to take part in a Qandamp;A-style “Developer Conference Call” based on 2K Sports’ upcoming basketball sim, NBA 2K13. Throughout the call, producer Erick Boenisch and senior gameplay designer Mike Wang answered  a wide range of questions about some of 2K13’s newest features, from the all-new modes (“My Team”) and features (“2K Shoe Creator”) to all the subtle tweaks to the A.I., animations, and broadcast-style presentation. Without further adieu, I would like to share some of those details with you in greater detail:

“THE MOST REALISTIC BASKETBALL GAME EVER.”

2K Sports has gone great lengths to guarantee that NBA 2K13 will be the most realistic basketball game you have ever played; the team seems to have fine-tuned some of the fundamentals, making this year’s installment feel more accessible and intuitive than ever before.

For example, the passing mechanics have been improved: players will now use different kinds of passes on a situational basis, so when the time is right for the bounce pass, you will see a bounce pass – not a lob. Moving on, the authenticity has always been a point of focus, so 2K Sports has implemented the ridiculous “flopping” seen in real-life NBA games. You know the drill – big guy underneath puts on a little bit of a show for the ref, tries to draw a charge, occasionally succeeds…but usually ends up sliding across the court in shame. Speaking of fouls and contact, 2K Sports has improved the animations for body-to-body contact, so 2K13 looks more dynamic and realistic than ever before whenever players collide and get tangled up on the court.

Finally, skill-based players should be happy to hear about some of the new “Signature Skills” and the new “Dribbling Stick.” These ideas are nothing entirely new for basketball sims, but their implementation seems to be a big change for the NBA 2K franchise. For example, the right stick has been transformed into the Dribbling Stick (instead of the Shot Stick), which allows for a wider range of control and smooth transitions between flashy dribble moves.

The “Signature Skills” are not set in place to overpower the high-rated players; instead it seems that there are plenty of skills that really make an impact on some of the lesser-rated guys in the league. They may not be superstars, but thanks to this new system, it seems like the bench might have more of an impact than before.

“THE DREAM TEAM”

Fans of players from the 80’s and 90’s should be happy to know that the US “Dream Team” can now be selected and played solo or online, against both classic and current squads. There isn’t much more to know than that, but the idea of playing as the Dream Team should be exciting enough, right?

Match-ups against the Dream Team should be interesting; I have always enjoyed the debate about the difference in the game today versus the game twenty years ago. Though it isn’t one of the game’s biggest features, I very much look forward to matching up against the modern players, taking control of the team of legends that I grew up hearing about and watching myself.

“MY TEAM”

“My Team” is one of NBA 2K13’s headlining features, and seems to be one of the elements of the game that 2K Sports is the most excited about. Basically, My Team plays on the idea of buying packets of basketball cards and “collecting NBA players” for your own unique team. You can build a team with three active players, and you can unlock more players by purchasing new “packs” on Xbox Live/PlayStation Network or by playing the game and winning online.

In this new mode, you’ll play a season of 12 games against the other players in your league. This is called “Road to the Playoffs”, and throughout the season, players are separated into various “tiers” based on their record. From this bracket, you’ll go head-to-head until the winner of the season is announced. Again, you can earn more players for this game mode by actually playing it, but the idea that you’re basically paying real money for premium content is always a bit of a burn…I can only speak for myself, but I hope the price is right, because the idea isn’t as terrible as it might sound to some.

“THE 2K SHOE CREATOR”

Basketball fans and sneakerphiles alike will really enjoy one of this year’s more off-the-wall features; “The 2K Shoe Creator”. This special custom options menu allows you to tinker with your very own Nike or Adidas sneaker, detailing up to 45 different layers. From crazy colors and patterns to as many Nike swooshes as your heart desires, the 2K Shoe Creator actually sounds pretty slick…

…but that is just the first part of the equation. As an added bonus, 2K Games has implemented a button that allows you to export your custom sneaker to Nike.com, where you can actually put in an order and have the real versions of your in-game shoes shipped straight to your home. I never thought I would be so excited about the idea of messing around with shoes in a video game; the 2K Shoe Creator manages to blend the culture of the sport into the video game more than ever before.

“THE ALL-STAR WEEKEND”

2K Games confirmed that NBA 2K13’s “All-Star Weekend” mode will arrive as DLC post-release, offering exclusive content that it hopes dedicated fans will enjoy as “…[a thank you] to [fans] who go out and buy the game every year.” The All-Star Weekend mode includes the expected events – the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest, the East/West All-Star Game, the Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout – and promises that you can do stuff like this:

Paying a little extra to dunk over a car? Why not?!

Finally, All-Star Weekend features the “Rising Star Challenge”, which puts the up-and-coming superstars within the league against each other. You can also select the Dream Team and other classic teams in this mode, as you can see in the “All-Star Trailer” found on Xbox Live.

“BETTER WITH KINECT”

The Kinect’s tagline is “Better With Kinect”; this has always been ironic to me, because I have always been skeptical of the device and have never understood how anything could be better with it. That being said, 2K Sports’ Kinect integration in NBA 2K13 actually makes a lot of sense, and according to the developers, “[…it’s] a great fit for our game.” Using voice commands, you can call for a pick, change the current offensive or defensive play, call a time-out, and much, much more. I will be completely honest, I couldn’t be much harsher toward the Kinect, and even I found myself impressed by the implementation. It isn’t trying to change the way the game is played; instead it sounds like a natural way to bring the intensity of calling out the on-court action from the coziness of your couch.  Wii U version “…very much the whole game; stay tuned for GamePad features/details…”

If you were hoping to see PlayStation Move support, you may be disappointed – though it was around in NBA 2K12, 2K Sports feels like it wasn’t quite up to par, and removed the option entirely.

On the other hand, prospective Wii U owners should be excited – according to the team, the Wii U version of NBA 2K13 is “…very much the whole game,” and won’t sacrifice any of its features in the Wii U version. In fact, there will be mechanics exclusive to the GamePad controller – unfortunately, 2K Sports is asking us to “stay tuned” for more details about the use of the fancy new controller.

What do you think? Are you excited for 2K Sports’ latest NBA title? The 2K series has been one of the most-consistently high-rated sports games for several years, so my expectations are high – and I fully expect Visual Concepts and 2K Sports to deliver.