What is going on Operation Sports? Today I had the opportunity of attending Gamescom 2012 in Cologne Germany and got roughly 4 hours of face time with a playable demo of NBA 2K13. If you're looking for a reason to buy this game or to wait for another company's offering, you should probably stop reading. I'm giving my honest opinion from the small sample size I was able to get my hands on.
With that being said, I saw some good things as well as some bad things. Below I will break down everything I can and will answer any questions that you may have, to the best of my ability.
Ok, the game opens up with an aerial view (real life shot) of the American Airlines Arena. Not sure if the music sequence was taken out but it wasn't in the demo. You immediately get sent into a television broadcast in which the starting lineups are introduced. You see shots of the usual Wade doing pull ups on the rim, LeBron doing the powder, and general sportsmanship being shown between the teams.
The commentary didn't really wow me -- they added some new things but it really sounded like last year. I'm sure some new lines and stories were recorded but I didn't get those in the demo.
The crowd... man... the crowd. The crowd, IMO, looked average and they moved poorly. This may be nitpicking but there was too much of that 'Miami burnt orange' in the crowd. I've watched quite a few Miami home games and I rarely see that much orange in the crowd -- didn't look natural at all. I think they need to add more of the home team's primary and secondary colors in the crowd to give it a better blend. Also, since it is the regular season, maybe even add some visiting team fans. Speaking of unnatural, the fans still waved wildly -- sometimes at odd times (like when the home team was on the free throw line). They do sit more but the waving needs to be brought down a notch. Other than that, the crowd swells did happen at the correct times. Honestly, I think the PA needs to be more of a dominant 'noise presence' to give it a perfect blend. Mix him/her in with the crowd swells and the atmosphere would be perfect.
Player Movement -- Player movement seemed much more fluid this year. As a user, we have much more control of our player -- I didn't witness many 'mini movies', beautiful news for any 2k basketball gamer. I do however have a slight beef with the player collision system installed. It seemed as if there was a lack of contact animations on some of the fouls inside. The defensive player would fall (very natural IMO) but the offensive player looked as if the foul never occurred.
Other than that, I love the new collision detection, especially on the ball handler. You can really steer a player in the direction you want to go but if you steer too much or can't keep up with the player, as I found out the hard way against Westbrook, they will turn the corner on you and look to attack. The ball handler/defender relationship is a beautiful thing this season. It really makes on ball defense easier to do and turns it into a better option than playing off ball and attacking from the weak side.
Control Stick (Dribbling) - Honestly, this took me ONE five minute quarter to get used to (and the guy beat me 16-15). If you have ever played the NBA Live series you may be familiar with the control stick but please don't say it’s identical. The options you have at just a flick of your thumb, is remarkable. I played one guy and he just looked at me amazed as I used his spamming of the steal button to make him look foolish as a little baby cross followed by a quick hesitation had him reaching while the quick around the back move had him tying shoelaces in the front row. Truly a great addition to the series but don't worry about this turning into And 1. Dribbling, much to my displeasure, still drains energy so any move you do needs to be quick. One day 2k will read my mind and tie dribbling too long with ball security -- the better ball handlers can play with you a little longer than the rest. Until then we have this -- no matter if it drains energy or brings down ball security -- it’s an addition that most guys, especially the ones who haven't mastered the isomotion, will greatly appreciate. And if you are in that #IsomotionAchieved Club, things just got a lot easier for you, as the moves are pretty much similar for the most part.
Shooting - I had some issues but it was more of a 'camera angle' than anything else. I'm a 2k angle (absolute) guy and the camera was on broadcast (camera relative). One thing I did check on was the spin dunk/layup exploit. Either I couldn't do it right due to the camera or they removed it. Every time I tried it went into a half spin and pivot the other way.
Passing - Yes, it’s back. I didn't play against a zone defense to know if it’s truly there but trying to play the passing lanes just got a little riskier this year. The ball was whizzing from side to side with relative ease as well as going where I wanted it to go. Of course the best addition is the bounce pass. I saw some beautiful bounce passes on the break that normally would have been soft lobs that were knocked away or stolen in NBA 2K12. I'm sure I've confused a few German youth today with my complimentary remarks on few great dimes.
Rebounding -- Seen a couple of new animations in this area. The best thing I saw when it comes to rebounding was that the guy who was in the best position normally grabbed the board. No balls warping out of someone’s reach into the person behind them or anything like that. Then again, there weren't a lot of misses to judge as the difficulty seemed to be Pro Default.
On ball defense - As I've mentioned above, it has been vastly improved this year. The option to force players a certain way (hopefully virtual Tyreke Evans has a left) will make team defense a bigger key this year. The contact on the perimeter will help you stay in front, but if you're too aggressive you will get burned.
Team defense - Well, this can be grouped into A.I., but correct defensive rotations were made by my A.I. teammates. I tried early to pressure Westbrook to get the ball out of his hands but he turned the corner on me in a hurry. In NBA 2K12, he's yammin' on anything in the paint. This season, the moment he turned that corner your big men (or anyone close) looked to step up to stop the drive. Since I'm talking about A.I. defense, yes I did see double teams. I personally faced a double team controlling LeBron James. The beauty of that double team is the fact that he wasn't hot or anything, it just came because he was in a deadly area, I'll assume for the defense. Unfortunately, the double actually pushed Perkins behind James and I pulled up and knocked down the jumper. Besides that, it’s great to see realistic defensive rotations and double teams make an upgraded return. Hopefully the complaints won't cause the 2K team to nerf them this year.
Charge/Flop Bug - I couldn't do it myself but I did see it multiple times performed by a couple of 'charge cheesers' present. From what I can gather (couldn't catch it on film), it looks as if you are beat with your man outside of the 3 point line and click on another defender to draw the foul, when the defender falls (flops -- yes they are in this year from anywhere on the court) the offensive player's original assignment flew to the ground as well, normally nowhere near another player. It was a really weird thing that I hope some of the Team Up guys can find.
Now I won't say this is the greatest basketball this generation has to offer (even though I believe it will make others 'Watch The Throne') but it will very hard to dislike this offering unless some major flaw presents itself from now until release. A lot of the major things we complained about got implemented from the looks of my small sample. They truly seemed to have put our interests first in this one. NBA 2K13 is working with something special -- only thing missing is a LD2K gif. :)