Editor's note: This review is focused on the iOS version of the title, not a console edition. The review cannot be extrapolated to a console edition of the game.
As I have said before, putting a game out on iOS (or any handheld OS… like that Android thing I keep hearing about) requires a different approach than doing a console game. Honestly, I think it's a far more difficult proposition. You need to have constant saves and allow advancement in little bits and pieces. Controls are hard to setup – you want something that really allows the player to do their thing, but space is terribly limited (especially on an iPhone as opposed to an iPad). And, when there's already a console title available of the same game, making the necessary changes for an iOS version can often leave the iOS version feeling like a dumbed down offering. I think the effort made with NBA 2K13 for iOS is valiant, but I also think that by all those measures it comes up wanting.
There is effort here and there is polish, it just isn't in all the right places.
Maybe part of the problem is how I view my iPhone and how I play games on it. Games on my iPhone are for the between moments – I'm at my daughter's school 10 minutes early, I'm sitting in a doctor's waiting room, that kind of thing. Consequently I need games that can be played for a few minutes here and a few minutes there; they need to be constantly saved, either manually or via autosave. NBA 2K13 doesn't do that. If you play a game with four minute quarters, you're playing it straight through, you can't save in the middle. You can quit if you have to and if you don't do too much with your phone or wait too long before you pick the game back up you may be able to start from where you left off, but the odds of that taking place aren't very good.