With NBA 2K13, basketball fans might never leave home, but they can certainly leave their living rooms.
NBA 2K games on the Wii have had a pretty rough past, from bad control setups to sub-par graphics when compared to the same games on other consoles. Therefore, when I found out that the Wii U version of NBA 2K13 would be playable on the show floor at the Wii U Preview event I was ecstatic.
First of all, the game looks sweet. The high definition upgrade really makes all the difference for the Wii U version, and anyone familiar with how HD console graphics look will feel right at home with 2K13. For this year's version, 2K Sports is also introducing what they are calling "The Control Stick", a neat addition which if you have been using a Wii Remote for a long time you might not care about but if you are a fan of dual analog control, you will love. The idea behind this is that while moving your player with the ball, you can use the right analog stick to control their dribbling, enabling you to pull off advanced techniques like crossovers, spin moves, and dribbling behind the player's back. Realizing that there are players out there who like using shot stick controls to dunk or shoot the ball, 2K has made it possible for players to easily enable the shot stick on the fly by holding the left trigger.
As you would imagine, the game plays and feels like the NBA 2K games that fans of the series have grown to love, except with some added extras. Now, considering that the Wii U is a new console, it seems as if 2K has at least taken the time to mess around with the tools that the system offers. One which I am totally excited about is the ability to play NBA 2K13 directly from the Wii U GamePad. In my opinion, if everything else in this version remains the same as the versions on other consoles in terms of modes, features, and extras, the Wii U game will be the version to have based on that exclusive feature alone. Aside from being able to play via the GamePad, the Wii U version has also added the ability to take a quick look at both player statistics and stamina. Tapping a player on the GamePad instantly pauses the game and brings up a stats screen showing you points scored, number of fouls, and much more information like that. Accessing player stamina is a bit easier to view - with a tilt of the Wii U GamePad, the screen switches to what looks like a heat map of all the players. As players lose stamina, their reddish-orange silhouette begins to drain and becomes dark, letting the player know that now might be the time to make a substitution.
While I wasn't given full access to all of the gameplay modes and features that NBA 2K13 has, I walked away feeling incredibly confident in the series' future on the Wii U. The new dribbling controls, the ability to play via the GamePad's screen, and the stat and stamina functionality on the GamePad is why, as an NBA fan, I will be getting this one no matter what. Until we find out exactly how this will match up to other versions, I'm calling it the winner. NBA 2K13 will be available at the Wii U launch in North America on November 18.