With the arrival of "NBA 2K13," many sports fans are expecting – and will be getting – one of the best basketball games on the market. But little do they realize how deep this experience will go. For this year's edition, 2K Sports has opened the doors to Facebook and mobile apps that tie in with the retail game.
Through the Facebook game, which is free, you can build an entire basketball world with a re-creation of your game character, adding to your entourage and playing mini-games to upgrade your living quarters and lifestyle. As a result, you'll earn rewards and experience points that you can provide to your MyPlayer profile in "NBA 2K13" – improving your skills and persona in the process.
Meanwhile, the mobile app, available for both Android and iOS devices, lets you play mini-games such as "Dribble Course" and "Autograph Signing," which also reward you with XP (experience points) to upgrade your player and techniques in "NBA 2K13."
The game sells for $60 on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 and $40 on Wii. (A fun mobile version of the game is also available for $8, though it doesn't have any statistical tie-ins with the retail game.) We tested on a PlayStation 3.
"NBA 2K13" really involves you with the MyCareer and MyTeam modes, letting you take management to a whole new level. As a player, you'll decide on things like your appearance and what pregame warm-ups you'll use.
With MyTeam, you can manage plays and balance your team's talents, hold discussions with the general manager and coaching staff, and make trades and picks. This, tied in with the experience point system, really make you feel involved with your career.
The first thing you'll notice upon starting the game is a new influence that adds even more authenticity than last year's version had. Executive producer Jay-Z (the rap artist and producer who's a minority owner of the NBA's Brooklyn Nets) provides a thoughtful, energetic soundtrack with songs from various artists, including his own tracks, that match basketball's vibe perfectly.
As for gameplay, "NBA 2K13" has really picked up over last year's release. You now have thorough control of moves like crossovers and passing with the right analog stick (or buttons, if you're an old-schooler), improving on-court performance. Offensively, you can set up better runs for the basket (dunk!) or set up a breathtaking alley-oop to another player. Defensively, you have better control over blocks, as well as more stealing opportunities.
"NBA 2K13" also boasts one of the best presentations you'll see this year. The player animations are incredibly fluid, especially when running in for a monster dunk. The arenas and crowds look fantastic, as well, really making you feel like you're on the court, whether your team is winning or losing. (Just try not to be on the losing end – the fans can be vicious.)
The commentary, provided by veteran announcers Kevin Harlan, Steve Kerr and Clark Kellogg, continues to be the best in the business, as they keep up with all of the on-court action with ease. When you perform a magnificent power dunk, they stop everything to show their admiration.
With its social tie-ins, online and offline modes, powerhouse presentation and wonderful gameplay, "NBA 2K13" raises the bar for how sports sims should be.