I'm really excited with the upcoming NBA 2K13 as the 2013 season kicks off a few months from now. With hot new rookies and shocking trades done and dusted, it is not a surprise that the new video game series will be a highly anticipated one unless NBA Live 13 can make a comeback. Based on the information already leaked out, the new features and improvement will surely make my video game moment a very memorable one.

PRESENTATION

One of the things that really gets me excited is 2K's attempt to up the ante in the realism department because there are many things that they have to improve especially the presentation aspect. If you notice, players tend to act and react like headless chickens after the whistle has been blown. Just imagine this - as the quarter comes to an end, LeBron makes a monster jam in traffic but suddenly walks into the cornfield like a zombie. It has been reported that the developer team has made an effort to seamlessly integrate the ambient basketball actions in order to make sure players do what they are supposed to do in real-life dead ball situations.

Improvement in the dynamic commentary between Steve Kerr, Clark Kellogg, and Kevin Harlan has been made so that they won't repeat signature statements and conversations like a stale donut. Of course, I would expect basketball talk would now flow smoothly as ever from interesting statistics to off-court activities of players. Perhaps, additional nuggets of basketball trivia would be a bonus during lulls and emotional responses during the intensity of the game.

Replays, just like in real-life broadcasts, has been vastly improved and this year we will be expecting more than just the Sprite Slam Dunk replay. Nike+ Basketball has been integrated and gamers would now see how high Blake Griffin jumps during a replay of his signature dunk. Bear in mind, the replay only triggers when a player is wearing Nike shoes so sorry no Derrick Rose.


GAMEPLAY

Ex-EA Sports gameplay producer Mike Wang may have brought a thing or two from the other camp because NBA 2K13 is revamping its dribble controls by integrating the right analog controls into it. Known as the "Control Stick," this control system is eerily similar to the last incarnations of NBA Live as the right analog stick works for dribbling, shooting, post play, and passing. I'm wondering how it would affect our overall gaming experience. The good thing about this new control scheme is that it will open up new moves that we haven't experienced before. Great, I can now practice ankle breaking moves like what Allen Iverson used to do!

Before, players cannot do anything standing because their movements are tied into the movement stick's isomotion. This time, the new controls will allow you to make the crossover, behind the back, or between the legs dribble with ease just like what NBA players do. Holding the left trigger will turn the Control Stick into the Shot Stick that were used to.

Expect player passing to be a lot smarter this time around and your teammate would be filling the lane much better so if you are in a middle of a fastbreak, you can make a sweet bounce pass instead of an unpredictable overhead dish. If you want to guarantee your player throws a bounce pass, you can hold the left trigger and press the pass button.



The passing and catching systems were the weak spots in the previous 2K series because when you make a pass, the catch is already determined. So it means that jumping the lane and forcing a turnover can be difficult since you were not in the passing lane in the first place. In NBA 2K13, the developers have finally separated the passing and the catching so you will make the pass by the time you press the button and the defender can make a steal based on the expected time the ball will reach the receiver. There will be more variety into the pass catching animations therefor some balls can be prone to interception.

Another first in 2K13, the dribbling player and the opposing player in the post will have controls that mimic each other. Twirling the right analog stick to spin works in both states. Since you are no longer need to master a different mini game when posting up, it would be much easier for players to transition between attacking the basket and playing with your back to the rim. The alley-oop controls have been radically change as well so you will be able to have a quick basket at the rim by pushing the A and X buttons to execute the throwdown.

Unfortunately, there will be a lot of adjustments and getting used to when developing our reflexes for the Control Stick since were used to the Shot Stick. I guess, we need a lot of practice before playing a full game of it.

We've been familiar with the different animations as some shots tend to play out the same regardless of contact. With the new Dynamic Shot Generator, the game will have physics system that will consider different factors (like momentum, degree of contact, player size, and strength rating) that will determine if the shot will go in or not. If the player penetrates to the basket, certain scenarios would happen - the player is stopped at the point of contact, the shot is off target, loose ball, or player stumbles and falls to the floor. Hopefully, no more canned animations. The shot generator will affect rebounding, blocking, collisions, and charging.

Players will have more smooth movements on defense and will be much more reactive. With a physics system in place, more physical defenders that guard any penetrations to the basket will gain better ground. So if you step into the dribbler’s lane, the collision deflects guys the way it would in real life so the attacker won’t just slide off the defender. The gamer would now feel like defending can play a vital role in the game instead of just feeling like an obstacle.

No more cheesy moves and game exploits since a reactive AI has been made that is smart enough to know when you are trying to make a move. It will now be able to know your player jumping the lane and looking for that backdoor instead of throwing the obvious pass. The game developers have also added awareness differentiations in order to determine different AI point guard performances - a veteran, pass-first point guards will have a panoramic view of his immediate surrounding while scoring point guards and less talented players will have part of the court in a strategy game "fog of war." Although I understand the concept, I'm not sure how it works.

Taking a cue from Madden and FIFA series (from EA Sports of course), the developers will be introducing Signature Skills in order to differentiate players. Each player can have up to five signature skills, which cover everything from being a spot up shooter or alley-ooper on offense to being a chase down artist or pick-pocketer on defense. Aside from that, "team auras" are players' individual traits that extend to their teammates so that a floor general or high-energy defensive specialist traits will improve the play of everyone else on the court. The number of skill traits has been pegged at 28 and it is not yet clear if the players would gain or lose these signature skills as their career progresses (probably in the My Player and Creating a Legend modes).

So there you have it, a sneak peak of NBA 2K13!

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