Friday, August 10th, 2012 at 8:05 am  |  48 responses

Preview: NBA 2K13

Take a sneak peek at 2K’s newest basketball game.

by Adam Figman | @afigman

NBA 2K12 was released in early October of 2011. A miserable lockout was looming, and the threat of basketball fans spending an NBA-less winter/spring seemed terrifyingly real. But the atmosphere only made the video game’s release more exciting—screw it, I’ll create my own bball franchise!—and the company capitalized further by tying a legend-based theme into the gameplay, directly connecting to the throwback coverage that was being shown on NBATV on a nightly basis at the time.

Of course, the lockout would eventually come to a close, heeding the spotlight to the League’s current superstars and giving way to one of the best NBA seasons in recent memory. And the 2K folks have responded accordingly, adapting a “pass the torch” theme for this year’s iteration of the popular game. That’s evident in the cover—former cover stars Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird have been succeeded by Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose [see slide 4 above]. A variety of legends—including Money himself—will still be included in the game in some capacity or another, but the specific capacity has not been made public just yet.

This past Tuesday, I was fortunate enough to preview 2K13 for a few minutes; though the entire game was not made available, I was able to sample a few of the new features and play one full regulation game to try ‘em out. There are plenty of surprises still under wraps—we’ll have more on those in the coming weeks and in SLAM 162—but in the meantime, here are a few take-aways from our quick session with the game.

• I was immediately curious about Jay-Z’s involvement. A rapper as the executive producer of a video game? Seems strange. But yeah, as one of the bigger mysteries surrounding the release, the exact nature of Hov’s affiliation is being kept secretive for the time being. We do know the Brooklyn-raised rapper picked out the songs on the soundtrack, the tracklist of which 2K has already released.

• As far as I know, bounce passing has never really been a big element of basketball video games—most of the passes thrown are just automatically chest passes, probably because they’re just an easier way to move the rock from point A to point B. Anyway, by pressing the pass button and another button—the left trigger button on Xbox 360, not sure about other systems—you can easily make a bounce pass to a teammate. It might sound a little unnecessary, but at certain points during an offensive set, like in the midst of a pick-and-roll, it’s a nice option to have.

• Speaking of pick-and-rolls, holding down one button automatically creates a P-and-R set on offense, and a little icon actually pops up to let you know which way (and when) you should start curling around the pick.

• There are some minor changes in the way players in the game make physical contact with one another, too. In the past, when a couple of guys collided, it’d always lead to the same kind of running-into-a-wall type of encounter—now the dudes bounce off one another in a less awkward, more realistic manner.

• Those of you who are into Nike’s new Nike+ technology have plenty to look forward to. Occasionally, instead of the standard post-play replay, the color of the screen changes slightly and the replay takes place in slow motion while measuring the player’s vertical leap using Nike+, and eventually freezes to show an image like this. Again, cool stuff.

• One new feature is called “Signature Skills”, which displays icons that can be activated using the D-pad (and in the menu when the game is paused) that describe the different, you know, signature skills each player has. Needless to say, a guy like LeBron has a variety of signature skill icons to his name, while others don’t have so many, if any at all.

• The game is also Xbox Kinect ready, but probably not in the way you’d expect. It doesn’t use the Kinect technology in a way that requires you to stand up or perform any physical action, but instead utilizes voice activation, allowing a user to verbally dictate plays, call timeout, and act out other coach-like manuevers. Just be careful: swearing at the machine could result in a technical foul.

• Lastly, whenever it is that Nintendo releases Wii U—a new gaming console that’ll reportedly drop at some point during 2012′s fourth quarter—2K13 will be playable on it.

And that’s all we got for now. Once again, be on the lookout for more details in the next few weeks, and be sure to pick up SLAM 162—available on newsstands this September—for a full review. The game will be in North American stores on October 2 and out worldwide October 5.

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  • Gregg

    I’m actually really excited about the bounce-pass feature. Thanks for letting us know.

  • Larry Sportello

    ^^^^ Don’t feel bad – I’m loving that too. Rose on the cover is a bit odd though for 2012-13.

  • Frostbyte


    Agreed, not being able to choose between the two caused so many turnovers that you had no control over.

  • greg

    signature skills? travelling and choking?

  • ByAnyMeansNecessary

    @greg Hope you’re not talking about LeBron. His signature skills? Doing absolutely everything on the floor. As for the “choking”, I take it you didn’t watch the playoffs.

  • Keezy

    Im still mad. How in god’s green earth, did BLAKE GRIFFIN AND DERRICK ROSE MAKE THE COVERS.. Blake Griffin isn’t even the best player on his own TEAM! He wasn’t even in the top 3 players in his own CITY (Kobe, CP3, Bynum). And for Rose, though he is amazing, he was injured for majority of the season!!!!! It should’ve been LeBron, Kevin Durant, Kobe/Tony Parker.

  • Robin

    ^^^^^^ Because this is about the upcoming superstars without a ring yet! (ok, they should replace Griffin by Anthony imo)

  • T-Money

    keezy – take a chill pill. griffin is fun and dunks a lot, kids love him and are super stoked that he’s on the cover. what’s wrong with that?

  • http://www.slamonline.com AT

    I still have NBA2k11.I keep my rosters updated like everyday.But u cant change those effects cant wait to check it out.

  • Tempest

    Cant wait to run some pick and rolls and thread the needle with bounce passes!

  • http://Slamonline.com Black Mamba

    Can’t wait. Kobe was already on but Parker would be good. Blake Griffin is a joke. Should be Lebron, Durant, Dwight

  • LA Huey

    I like that people pretend that making the 2K cover is a direct measure of someone’s status in the game.
    Nice preview. Looking forward to P&R action, bounce passes, and voice command (though I assuming the technicals were a joke).

  • http://slamonline.com adam figman

    not a joke!

  • 23

    The cover of a video game is literally a popularity contest for youngsters. Remember…. Steve Francis/Vinsanity was on a cover ?? They pick players who they believe will move merchandise. It’s not like they’re gonna put k-love grabbing a rebound on the cover.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    why didn’t y’all mention the isomotion controls are now on the right stick as well? that’s like the biggest change aside from the physics (specifically defensively, which you didn’t really mention either) and you didn’t put that in your preview? why?

  • LA Huey

    @Adam, Well, that’s sucks a donkey d^%#. I’m going to be picking up mother^*%*ing techs like I’m god*%#@ Rasheed mother^%$#ing Wallace. Son of a b%$*&.

  • Tonico

    @ LA Huey This dude had me rollin around in the airport. Classic.

  • ish

    so i guess AI is still blackballed from the video game too?

  • Cole

    No improvements to the My Player? That’s like all I wanted better in 2K13.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Slick Ric

    The graphics look improved to me, alright 2K.

  • BallsDeep

    Idiots. Blake Griffin is the future of the NBA, as KD and Rose are (or were). He’s bringing it back to the street, like MJ did with the ‘be like Mike’ stuff. Griffin is awesome. Are you blind?

  • Heals

    Was going to make a comment about how I’m a dork for being excited about 2k finally implementing manual bounce passes only to find the first 3 comments are exactly that. Gotta love stuff like this in life, it’s a small world (especially for hoops heads)…

  • Ball.A.BabY

    2K13 bring it on!!!
    I have already pre-ordered my Dynasty Edition, all the way in Perth,Australia

  • Yep

    I can’t wait for bounce passing. Going to be so useful.

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    One thing I really hope they addressed: free agency in Association mode. I can’t remember how many times the game will randomly not allow me to match a RFA. Or offer NTC’s to rookies.

  • http://www.kb24.com The Seed

    Can’t wait to play, When I play online I am going to be the New Orleans Hornets and kill with them. Everyone will play with the Lakers, Heat or Thunder online, but who plays with great teams online-HOMERS!!

  • Bravo

    When 2k13 comes out whoever I face online will get destroyed. So if your in my path I feel sorry for you. You’ll know you suck when I beat you with the raptors

  • IamYOU

    @Ball.A.baby holla at you mate! Going to get 2k13 here down undah! same city, PERTH!

  • Jono

    @Cole Me too man, My Player had better be epic. I won’t even mind if they made it a separate game that is alot more detailed, I’ll gladly fork out cash for 2 great games.

  • ByAnyMeansNecessary

    Why is EA Sports trying to come back and compete with 2K Sports? Don’t understand it.

  • justin05

    LOL seed and bravo. The most fun games are when you choose a lottery team and still whoop those Heat bandwagoner asses. My team is LA but I still like to mix it up.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xC03hmS1Brk Max

    Hope that not everyone has a game like Hakeem.

  • Allenp

    I am running with Brooklyn all year.

  • esonba

    im hella excited for this game. get that franchise started again and get to collecting these RANGZ!!

  • http://twitter.com/smileyoufckers Bryan

    Not really feeling these “new” features. Since they were all apart of the old nba live games. NBA Live failed in case we’ve forgotten.

  • T-man
  • str8 from samoa

    it should be lebron and durant on da cover..

  • wixurrs

    how the hell are the 2001 Sixers not on here again. I can play as Rik Smits but not Allen Iverson???

  • @boweezy24

    It Should Be Steve Nash and Dwight Howard and Kobe On The Cover!

  • http://Slamonline Jimbo

    Apparently there is all star weekend only if you preorder.

  • LA Huey

    ^I’m sure they’ll sell it as downloadable content too. But it’s not something I care about.

  • http://Slamonline Jimbo

    I think it’ll be downloadable in February

  • sam

    These guys are the future players. When they are all like 27 or 28, LeBron, Wade, CP3, Deron Williams and all them will probably be headed out the door with the end of their careers. These three are great! Thank God there are no more Jordan covers!

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-theBear

    Question: If you don’t have XBox Live can you still download content for 2K?

  • Zoom

    Umm wtf no love for LeBron EVER ? Yes KD great pic & idk when they made this cover before or after Rose’s injury but he shouldn’t be up there if it was after & why tf is Blake up ? It should be Bron, KD, Kobe, or CP3, etc.

  • http://gmail.com z

    Co sign allenp and wixurrs regarding playing as brooklyn, and the sad fact that there STILL is NO allen iverson? I’d even take a 2010 version just SOMETHING. If live had al i might get that instead of 2k. Just tossin it out there

  • http://slamonline.com Mars

    If you are a real hoophead, you don’t care who makes the cover. Its all love bro. Stop hatin. Idk if Jamario Moon is on the cover. But on the real, here’s an idea. Multiple covers. Throwback Legends cover (AI, McGrady, GHill, Jkidd). Rookies cover. Scoring champ cover. Champions cover, and of course MVP cover. Too much? Make it happen.

  • peak507

    bounce pass though… thats wat im talking about.