NBA 2K13: Is it the shoes?

NBA 2K13 redefines what it means to improve upon a sports game year over year.

Jeff Bakalar

Jeff Bakalar

Editor at Large

Jeff is CNET Editor at Large and a host for CNET video. He's regularly featured on CBS and CBSN. He founded the site's longest-running podcast, The 404 Show, which ran for 10 years. He's currently featured on Giant Bomb's Giant Beastcast podcast and has an unhealthy obsession with ice hockey and pinball.

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2 min read
2K Sports

Yes, it's the shoes. Yes, it's the entire 1992 Dream Team. Yes, Jay Z really did stuff for the game. And yes, it's also the only chance you've got at playing a basketball video game this season.

By no means am I a hard-core basketball fan, but maybe that's why I find myself playing a lot of NBA 2K13 lately -- because it's turned me into one. Well, maybe just a fan of the video game. Like EA's ability to top NHL year after year, the team at 2K Sports has an arguably better knack for doing so. Even though it's running unopposed again, NBA 2K13 is a huge triumph all around and features tons of new additions that make it a no-brainer purchase for casual and hard-core NBA fans.

2K Sports

What's been most publicized about 2K13 has been the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Dream Team, almost universally regarded as the best basketball team ever assembled. The team's inclusion in the game was going to happen regardless, but there was a point in the development cycle where Scottie Pippen and Charles Barkley were not on board to appear. That's where Jay Z came in.

At first I thought Jay Z's executive producer credit was more of a stunt than a legitimate role until I heard how instrumental he was in convincing Pippen and Barkley to allow their likenesses in the game. Without Jay Z, there'd probably be an incomplete Dream Team in NBA 2K13.

And if reuniting the '92 squad wasn't enough, Jay Z tapped his recording artist friends to make up the soundtrack and was also involved in the design of the interactive menu system. So yeah, he earned that EP.

The technology behind NBA 2K13
Watch this: The technology behind NBA 2K13

But at the end of the day what really matters is gameplay and 2K13 definitely delivers. While the game's had a winning formula for a while, the addition of the right control stick feature allows players to do have much more authority over dribbling the ball and maneuvering through defense. Noticeable strides have also been made in the passing department and now specific players have unique "signature skills" that separate them from the pack.

2K Sports

There are enough modes of play to satisfy any basketball fan, but I'm personally attached to the shoe creator. That's right, while previous NBA 2K games have allowed for color customization, the 2K13 Shoe Creator gives you more than 40 layers of depth to design, which of course you can then dress your player in. The best part? If you really fall in love with a design you can buy them for real.

CNET recommendation: A must buy

NBA 2K13 is easily a contender for sports game of the year and must be played by people with even a inkling of basketball blood in their bodies.

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