NBA 2K13 on consoles is a monumental step forward in terms of basketball sims, and it has received rave reviews for the new around the rim animations, and overall flow of the game. The iOS version of NBA 2K13 is now out as well, but it’s coming off an abysmal NBA 2K12 for iOS last year. Luckily, 2K Sports seems more prepared for iOS this year, and there are more powerful iOS devices out there. The game looks similar from the screenshots, but from the opening tip you can tell there have been a number of improvements.
The biggest change is the overall flow so that all of the five on five NBA action runs smoothly on screen, which couldn’t be said last year. The animations have also been subtly improved to provide less rigid and blocky movement by the players. Even the player design is improved so each player looks more in line with their real life counterpart. The 2K basketball engine is improved on iOS, and the feature set has been enhanced as well with new Multiseason dynasty mode, and online multiplayer via Game Center.
The NBA 2K13 package is vastly improved from last year, but that’s not saying much, and the real question is if you can enjoy five on five basketball on the go. The short answer is no, and the longer answer revolves around the control scheme. There are the classic virtual controls, or the mobile specific one touch mode, but both have their fair share of problems. The classic controls don’t offer any plays, special moves, or any around the rim abilities. Every offensive trip is simply pointing the joystick to the basket, and pressing the shoot button. You can’t post-up, set screens, give and go, or perform special dribbles, so instead it’s best to pile drive your way to the rim. The game tries to intelligently identify when to post-up, but it rarely works, and special dribbles are random at best.
For the one touch controls, you really only have access to plays, shooting, and passing with movement done automatically. It’s a very passive experience, and it’s quite tedious to tap specific players to pass or shoot. Both control modes result in a very basic basketball game, but this is coming from someone who is thoroughly enjoying the console version with tons of controls and play-sets. Defense is rather passive as well, as the controls don’t really impact the opposition that much once you flip on intense D, and then just tap to block. In-game the free throw shooting, timeouts, and replays slow down the action considerably, and there’s no way to skip the slow animations. Also worth noting, is that the Game Center multiplayer is practically impossible to enjoy due to the extreme slow down across multiple tests.
NBA 2K13 ($7.99, Universal) has a great feature set, and an improved engine, but the basketball gameplay is extremely basic leaving the other two aspects moot points. NBA 2K13 looks promising, but comes up short in execution, especially in comparison to the top tier iOS sports game, Fifa 13. Our review was delayed due to crashing on our device, which was fixed with the recent 1.0.7 update, so at least most of those problems are out of the way.