App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
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Stop the presses! Surely this will come as a shock to no one, but another yearly licensed sports game has hit the iOS platform. NBA 2K13 marks the return of 2K Sports' popular hardwood simulation, taking a second shot at basketball success on mobile. Does the critically lauded performance of the console version of NBA 2K equal improvement on the small screen, or are we looking at another minor iteration on last year's installment?
Unlike many other sports, there are very few that have tried and even fewer that have succeeded in distilling down an authentic NBA experience into iOS form. EA and 2K both taken whacks at it, and both have proven to be mixed bags. NBA 2K13 makes significant strides toward making the action more true to life, but core technical issues such as awkward controls and performance drops hold it back from being a true game-changer.
As previously alluded to, the classic controls are unusually suspect this season. The previous convention had been to have a set of stationary buttons that were interchangeable on offense and defense. Jump and block would normally be mapped to the same key, as well as pass and steal, switching as possession of the ball necessitated. Oddly enough they decided it would be smart to completely jigger up this previously held notion, by scrambling the position of said commands, rather willy-nilly. These kinds of moves do nothing the ease in players that are already being deprived of tactile controllers.
While the presentation seemed far more fluid than prior season, even featuring rather impressive instant replay montages throughout, there were several occasions where even on the overpowered iPhone 5, the game more closely resembled a slideshow than a basketball game. Granted, this wasn't an overly common experience, it happened enough to warrant noting.
If there is one thing that NBA 2K13 does better than any basketball game previously available on iOS, it is provide a comprehensive list of single player modes. Along with the common exhibition and season, there is "Greatest Games" which allows players to relive famous milestone experiences from the careers of league greats like Michael Jordon, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal. For fans of the sport, this is an exercise in nostalgia in its pure and distilled form. Even the starting lineups featuring players of yesteryear have been re-created in their entirety, further augmenting the authenticity.
Even with the help of rapper Jay-Z selecting a stellar soundtrack for NBA 2K13, there seems to be a vast gap in between what the title aspires to be and what it delivers. What may looks to be a decent basketball simulation on paper seems to fall apart upon close criticism. Plus, when performance issues are being experienced on the premier devices, namely the new iPad and iPhone 5, this may prove to be more of a reflection of issues going on under the hood. If you are hard up for a basketball fix, tread lightly, because depending upon the amount of patience possessed, your millage may vary.