'NBA2K13' review: The king of sports video games stands alone

african kings

“Are You Not Entertained?” What a fitting way to describe this year’s entry in the annual sports video game juggernaut — NBA2K13.

The king of the digital hardwood continues its dominance on the blacktop by tweaking game play from last year and adding a mind-blowing amount of customization, while being ‘produced’ by hip-hop icon, Jay-Z.

theGrio: Jay-Z to executive produce ‘NBA2K13′

Graphics / Presentation

Player models from the body down are solid once again this year, but gamers will notice that some of the NBA’s elite’s faces are slightly off. D-Wade and LeBron’s faces are picture perfect on screen, but Kevin Garnett looks like an odd milk dud. This, however, doesn’t apply to the NBA legends that were included in the game, as the 92’ Dream Team is present — with Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson and other greats portrayed in their playing prime.

Even before Jay-Z was attached to the project, the 2k series was never a slouch looks wise. For the basketball enthusiast, the amount of fan interaction is staggering. Through “My Player Mode,” 2K’s create a player mode, you can buy your favorite throwback pair of Air Jordans to wear in the game.

Feel free to take it one step further by designing your own in-game kicks, order it through Nike I.D., and have a physical pair delivered to your doorstep. It’s customization at its finest.


The previous two entries in the franchise were considered to be the best basketball games of each year, so 2k13 had the unenviable task to improve on perfection. Game play wise, it seems the approach for NBA2K13 was ‘if it aint broke, don’t fix it.’ Offensively, the tight controls from NBA2k12 have been streamlined for NBA2K13.

While previous installments allowed you to dribble with the shoulder buttons, all dribble/juke combinations are now done with the right analog stick.

When combined with the L2 button, your right analog stick becomes your jump shot. On the defensive side of the ball, nothing has changed, which isn’t a bad thing, however I still wish there was a more efficient defensive control scheme when you try to post-up a player.


This is where the Jay-Z influence truly shines. Hov handpicked the soundtrack for this year, and though he showed love to many hip-hop artists he’s been affiliated with over the years — like Kanye, Nas, and Diddy — rock bands like U2 and Coldplay round out the tunes.

The in-game commentary team is superb. The scripted commentary that usually plagues sports games is sparse, as I rarely caught myself listening to the same forced speech by the two man team.


Whether this is your first go round with the 2K series or you’re a season vet, NBA2K13 won’t disappoint.

The addition of Jay-Z to the brand only enhances the overall presentation and gives fans of the NBA the most complete video gaming experience that’s available.

That is, until NBA2K14 drops next year.

You can check out Kyle’s musical coverage on theGrio music page, and follow Kyle on Twitter at @HarveyWins.