NBA 2K13 embodies the spirit of the Wii U, but comes with a trade-off

NBA 2K13 has single-handedly defined Nintendo’s newest console’s place in my life.  Sitting there playing through a basketball season with the Celtics on the gamepad made me realise just how awesome of a proposition the Wii U is for a subset of people. Being someone who spends a majority of my game time buried deep in my handhelds, the idea of seamlessly transitioning from the television screen to the gamepad is always tantalising and the Wii U in most cases lives up to the promise of playing console games without monopolising the television screen.  But until recently I hadn’t really appreciated what a boon that feature really is.


And there is something truly special about knowing that what you’re playing is the real deal.  NBA 2K13 on the Wii U is as full-featured and realised basketball sim as any other on the market, featuring all the players, teams and stadiums from the NBA.   And it plays a serious game of basketball, featuring a complex yet intuitive control system and layers upon layers of tactical depth, while still managing to be approachable and enjoyable. Basically NBA 2K13 is one of the best sports games currently available on any platform regardless of the system you play it on.  The fact that it now can be played without hogging the television just makes it a slightly more compelling proposition.

But if you’ve grown accustomed to the love and care put into polishing the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the NBA 2K series in the past, you’re in for a shock.  Simply put the Wii U version looks and performs worse than the game on its competitors’ systems, with a frame rate sitting somewhere in the vicinity of 30 frames per second rather than the consistently close to 60 frames per second on the PS3 and Xbox 360, and with what look like slightly lower resolution textures and character models.  It still looks great, oozing style from every orifice, but it is significantly less stellar than what has been delivered on other platforms now for quite a number of years.  Of course if the last basketball game you played was NBA Courtside 2002 for the Gamecube, or just hadn’t played the other versions of the game for that matter, you would be none the wiser to the differences.

The differences though, while pronounced (particularly the frame rate difference), were never enough to detract from the versatility being able to play through my basketball career without needing to takeover the entire living room.  It is a benefit that far outweighs the costs and one can’t help but pontificate about the many competitive scenarios Nintendo’s Wii U would’ve brought to the scene had it released alongside the PS3 and Xbox 360 almost a decade ago. It may not be ‘technically brilliant’ but NBA 2K13 on the Wii U is the most game-changing sports game to hit consoles in a very long time.  Just for different reasons than I expected.

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