It’s an odd mix right? Visual Concepts, the developers behind the upcoming annual NBA title seem to believe that this combination is exactly what the franchise needs to kick it into overdrive. Yesterday, I was fortunately enough to be all ears for Erick Boenisch, lead developer on NBA 2K13, as he explained and demonstrated how this year’s iteration differs from its predecessor.
I Got 99 Problems but an Endorsement Ain’t One
Boenisch first explained the involvement of Jay-Z, with regards to the title’s overall direction. He mentioned that musical superstar played an active role in helping sculpt the overall look and feel of the game rather than having no involvement and simply blindly endorsing the title.
He continued to state that Jay-Z helped direct the game’s intro video and was wholly responsible for its soundtrack. As such, expect to hear tracks from hit artists like Kanye West, Puff Daddy, Daft Punk and of course, six songs from Mr. Carter himself. Those not impressed with the wide array of dope gangsta beats can take solace in knowing that the collection also includes a single melodic track from none other than Coldplay.
Most matches will kick off with one of 100 pre-game intro cinematic sequences, which tie slick graphics amongst footage of recording artists and professional players. Boenisch explained that most sports titles were fixated entirely on gameplay, a fact that often leaves much to be desired in the visual department. He went on to demonstrate that Visual Concepts were staying true to their name and providing a more fleshed out experience, tying in equally solid sound, visual, and gameplay design.
Jay-Z’s presence in the game isn’t entirely unexpected and not at all unwelcome. He adds a certain level of authenticity and certainly helps boost overall entertainment value without diminishing gameplay.
Step Aside Final Fantasy, we Have a New Kid in Town
That might sound a tad hyperbolic but NBA 2K13 is set to mix in quite a few RPG elements. Boenisch explained that his love of RPG games lead them to include several new RPG type elements into the upcoming title.
Signature Skills are one such inclusion and directly affect the attributes and characteristics of the players. A total of 31 Signature Skills are included, with the ability to level up each skill individually to increase their effectiveness. “Alley-Ooper” is one such Signature Skill, attributed to players known for throwing accurate alley-oop passes. As the name no doubt suggests, this skill further increases the likelihood of a successful alley-oop.
The career mode allows you to select up to five Signature Skills for your character, each with the ability of gaining additional levels on a per skill basis to increase their effectiveness. A comprehensive list of the included Signature Skills and their descriptions can be found here.
The “My Player” mode from 2k12 returns as “My Career” in 2k13 and with it brings a slew of additions. You can pimp out your character till your heart’s content with over 1,400 clothing items and accessories. A partnership with Adidas in the upcoming title means a wider range of Adidas gear to choose from, even going so far to include items from their current real life catalogue. One of the cooler aspects here is that certain gear will add attributes and characteristics to the players equipping the gear. Blizzard should be expecting their royalty check any day now.
Another great new addition is the all new “GM Sit-Downs” mode. Entering this mode allows you to have a one on one conversation with your team’s general manager where you’ll discuss the team’s progress and direction. You can even talk smack about your coach and attempt to get him fired. The mode seemed interesting, as Boenisch explained that newcomers to the team are unlikely to influence the GMs decisions, while seasoned players are taken a little more seriously. It’s a great addition to the My Career mode and will definitely appeal to players looking for an extra layer of depth and involvement. One the key things to take away from all this is that these conversations will directly affect your character’s career, so it might be best to hold your tongue at times.
Adding to this is the inclusion of a new social media panel that displays messages from fans, companies and influential figures. Imagine a virtual Twitter, but with less Instragram photos of your friend’s fancy Italian dinner. The panel is surprisingly well thought out, packing over 4,500 unique messages which can be triggered by any of the 350 events that occur in the My Career mode. This again will appeal to those looking for something more than just a stock standard basketball game and further adds to the authenticity of the title.
Something completely fresh out of the woodwork is the “My Team” mode. This allows you to build a team of your liking and battle online as you’re paired up with opponents of similar skill. This mode also gives you the opportunity to purchase booster packs which include Signature Skills, swag and sometimes even players. The booster packs are segmented three ways, with the ability to purchase bronze, silver and gold options. Each tier of pack increases in both usefulness and cost, making you fork out more of that hard earned virtual currency for the more prestigious gear.
It’s blatantly apparent by the number of new additions in NBA 2K13 that 2K Games and Visual Concepts are striving to release the most authentic and involving game in the franchise thus far. The title looks and plays great, the RPG elements add a great deal of depth and the assistance from Jay-Z is clearly apparent within the title’s overall polish.
Be on the look out for a October 2nd release for North America / Australia and a October 5th release for Europe.