Home / Trends / NBA 2K21 Review: Great fun, but too much like last year to be essential

NBA 2K21 Review: Great fun, but too much like last year to be essential



I recreated mine NBA 2K20 Gaze of the player NBA 2K21 With ease, this year’s story mode looks like a straight-forward sequel, even though my guy went back to college to work his way up from scratch … again.

Same player, same game, same story.

For some reason, this still worked for me – until I got back to MyCareer, the mode where The Long Shadow, part narrative, part onboarding, encourages new players to play. Or maybe until I moved on to MyTeam, the card collecting / fantasy sports mode tied into the monetary system that also sets up a MyCareer run. NBA 2K21

also doesn’t give me a better reason to spend my virtual paper there.

Oh don’t get me wrong: NBA 2K21st I’ll still devour hours of my time, just like last year. That is the virtue and the shame of everything.

A fictional Michigan State Spartans player weighs a basketball in NBA 2K21

Real college teams are back in The Long Shadow, the story mode where players meet “Junior,” an aspiring man with a legacy to live up to.
Image: Visual Concepts / 2K Sport

Let’s start with the virtue that the production values ​​of Visual Concepts and the obvious commitment to each annual game as an artistic offering can make up the endless purgatory of sports video games – It’s really good, just like last year! – Feel fresh and well worth exploring. The gifts from the studio for Flair are beautifully presented with The Long Shadow.

Serious appearances by Jesse Williams (Grey’s Anatomy) how the late father casts the shadows, and the clean, narrative writing and dialogue make a fundamental story of a good popcorn movie. NBA 2K21With The Long Shadow, you get what other sports games largely don’t have in their experimentation with narrative modes: Not only do I need a backstory that I can believe, but one that I’m proud of to move on.

That means some kind of personal journey or transformation for the star and the support of characters with a certain depth and sympathy. Newcomer Vince Washington transforms the character Hendrixx Cobb into a warm, believable friend. Michael K. Williams (Omar von The cable) is straight As a Streetwise mentor, seedy enough to make an endgame decision – one that the game even made me reconsider! – both sensible and personally unfortunate.

But the shame is that even in its best and most distinctive offerings, NBA 2K21 is too similar to NBA 2K20 for me to give my recommendation a lot of supportive material that goes beyond gut instinct, a kind of “yes, it’s fun; Go play “mood. Hell, NBA 2K20 also brought a guy out The cable for his story and gave the player character a boastful but lovable rival to compete with. This is NBA 2K21 for you: It worked last year, so of course it works this year.

There are changes, even upgrades in gameplay, but they alone don’t justify restarting MyCareer or MyTeam. In other years or in other sports titles, new controls or adjustments to the core game can still make me say, “OK, now I am Really wants to make a career with it. ”

Title star Damian Lillard demonstrates shot stick aiming in NBA 2K21

Shot Stick Aiming increases the level of difficulty and determination, but is only accessible to advanced players.
Image: Visual Concepts / 2K Sport

That’s not what I get from Shot Stick Aiming, a new control scheme that is more geared towards experienced players looking for a steeper challenge. When aiming the club, the player must use the right thumb stick to center a wedge on the shot indicator and release the club at the right time. I couldn’t figure it out, but players who have mastered the old timing-only system may find it worth a look.

With the introduction of Shot Stick Aiming, Visual Concepts re-triggered the rest of the right thumb pen inputs for ball handling movements (called Pro Stick). This went much better for me, and the Pro Stick as a modifier to my player movement is more instinctive than discreet and conscious decisions. As such, I can make more room for a defender and beat my man from dribbling where I’ve never been good at it before.

Still, it’s nice to have that, but by itself it doesn’t make me re-specify my MyCareer player to take advantage of these new capabilities. I also don’t want to dive into MyGM with seasoned ball handlers like Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets. In fact, the lack of attention given to MyGM for a second year (MyLeague retains its WNBA upgrade but does not have an RPG from MyGM) NBA 2K21 For new and casual fans willing to spend, this seems like more of a Genuf lesson than a nod to hardcore lifers expecting a bit more effort in the game’s longest-playing single-player modes.

That brings us to the mandatory mention of microtransactions. MyTeam in NBA 2K21 It’s still the same arms race between grinding and real money purchases, but it has seen a huge shift in tone away from the almost grotesque casino themes of last year.

Screen showing the rewards for the first season of content in MyTeam of NBA 2K21

Oh yes there are a lot of microtransactions in NBA 2K21is MyTeam, but there is also a season-based battle pass type of reward system where virtual currency does not matter.
Image: Visual Concepts / 2K Sport

Simply put, you can now get more value from your team and your time on the pitch without spending any money. An exchange has been added to the game where players can redeem a dozen grunt-level cards and players can cash in for a larger shiny card. And there is a Season / Battle Pass component whose reward tiers are earned solely through gameplay. Money, virtual or otherwise, also has no effect. This is a step in the right direction, and it seems to be talking about a 2K sport chastised by the bad looks of MyTeam NBA 2K20.

But a change in tone is really all that it is. The best efforts of NBA 2K21 are optional, such as Shot Stick Aiming; Variants of a theme like The Long Shadow; or a more respectful relationship with the player like MyTeam. And if they are not a case against They stick with last year’s edition and aren’t a big case to the also in this year.

NBA 2K21 is now available for Google Stadia, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One. It will be released on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X later this year. The game was played on Xbox One with a download code from 2K Sports. Vox Media maintains partner partnerships. These do not affect the editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commissions on products purchased through affiliate links. You can find For more information on Polygon’s ethical policy, see here.


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