One sports series that has managed to show great consistency through every annual release is the NBA 2K franchise.  Since starting on the Dreamcast over a decade ago, Visual Concepts has fine tuned it into a slam-dunk monster. NBA 2K12 proved to be the best yet, with the addition of a number of NBA legends and other refined features.  So it shouldn’t be a surprise that 2K Sports is trying once again to top themselves with the upcoming NBA 2K13.

Like previous years, the game will feature a huge emphasis on gameplay. Offensive and defensive options will be a little more open this time around, so you’ll have a better opportunity to steal the ball (and risk the foul) as a defender, or find a way to get around to the basket on the offense. Not all of the new options were revealed, but from the video we saw, scoring and defending looks like a more natural process.

Speaking of the video footage, 2K Sports is also putting better animations into the game.  One thing we’ve noticed in the past is how some players appear a bit robotic when they transition from a shot to a victory animation.  They’ve fixed that with even more realistic motion capture, so players come across more natural when it comes to movement. You can see from going in a light run on the court to a fast transition how this comes together.  The team is also looking to make other improvements to the presentation as well, though those are undisclosed at the moment.

Another showcase during the video demonstration was the new NBA All Star Weekend, a bonus download that’s being included for all day one subscribers. (No word yet if it’ll be sold separately on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, but we’re guessing it will.) 

This extra feature will let you take part in all the fun weekend All Star activities, including Rising Stars Challenge, the Three Point Shootout and the Slam Dunk Contest. 

You can use any player during these events, and the Slam Dunk in particular is fascinating.  Rather than giving you real control over your player, it simply lets you choose what kind of dunk you want to do (assisted or unassisted by fellow players), then run in towards the hoop.  As you do, a push-button mini game appears, and you’ll need to hit buttons in the correct order.  The better you do, the better chances you’ll make the dunk.

And that’s really all we saw on NBA 2K13 thus far. It’s definitely promising to be a great deal of fun for basketball fans everywhere.  Look for more coverage in the months ahead leading to the game’s October 2nd release on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, followed by a Wii U release when it launches.