NBA 2K13 review: Incredible sports sim can teach FIFA a few tricks

Tough to crack, but easy to love...

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On court, the game feels very different to 2K12, thanks to an overhaul of player animations and behaviours. Every player moves realistically, each feels like a physical presence on the court; every time you bump into someone or take a tumble the animation looks incredibly natural - think Nathan Drake in Uncharted 3, when he puts an arm out to steady himself.

Many of the niggles of the previous game have been addressed: passing is now smarter, and there are fewer unforced steals. With the developers mapping dribble moves to the Right Stick, they're now much easier to pull off, and this increase in show-boating is complemented by more realistic lay-up and alley-oop animations. As a result, it flows quicker and with a slightly more arcade-like feel - definitely a good thing.

Defensively, things are a little trickier. Although the addition of Signature Skills means players behave very much like their real-life counterparts (Blake Griffin, for example, has the potential to dunk on anyone, Ray Allen hits more 3s from corners, Kobe's fade-away is lethal), there's still a sense that if the shot-clock is low, even the best defence can't stop the AI ghosting past you with a quicker player like Monta Ellis or Ty Lawson.


Yes, it makes games tighter, but it's hugely frustrating in My Career because your rating gets hammered for poor defence.

These are minor problems, though, and the wealth of game sliders in the options menu mean you can tweak NBA 2K13 to become the simulation you're comfortable with. Crucially, the game is stuffed with incredible basketball features, the presentation is near-perfect, and it plays like a dream (team).

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The verdict

A noticeable step-up in class from 2K12, especially on court and in the My Career mode. Only poor navigation spoils an otherwise incredible sport sim

  • Looks, sounds and play exactly like basketball
  • Beautiful, drop-jaw presentation
  • Arguably, the best sports game on the market
  • Navigation could be better
PlayStation 3
2K Sports
2K Games