Review: NBA 2K21 – SENSES

Entertaining for the experienced.

For those who like basketball and are familiar with the game series since before that is NBA 2K21 an entertaining game. It’s pretty much the same as from its predecessor, NBA 2K20 but the developers also spent some time developing certain parts of the game.

NBA 2K21 my career mode
Photo: from NBA2K21 (screencap from PS4)

I prefer to play games where I have a story to follow, so I started with “My career mode” where you – like Madden 21 – gets to start their journey in high school where they are persuaded by the basketball coach to drop out of American football (!) To join the basketball team instead. The basis of this story is that you are the son of a famous, now deceased, basketball player and will try to live up to his name. The story as a whole, however, is a bit small when you jump from memories where you train with your late father, to the present where it is mostly about trying to “survive” the press of the media and that you have relationship problems with your girlfriend. Once you are drafted into the NBA, the game chooses to end the whole story and we unfortunately do not get a proper end to it.

If I am to try to ignore the fact that I think the story as a whole was not so good and focus for a moment on what I thought was good about “My career mode”, then the animated sequences are much better than in Madden 21 – more well-produced simply. The best thing about this game mode was the actors who had the main roles, the sequences they are with are the best in history, as I could actually believe what was said and live in the events. And who are these actors, you may be wondering now?

Photo: from NBA2K21 (screencap from PS4)

Even the late father (Duke), as I mentioned above, is played by Jesse Williams who is known from Grey’s Anatomy and The Butler. The coach, who persuades one to start playing basketball, is played by Oscar nominees Djimon Hounsou, as we have seen in movies like Blood Diamond, Guardians Of The Galaxy, Fast And The Furious & Shazam!

If you just feel like playing a few games offline with your favorite team, “triple threat” (3 against 3), arcade, exhibition or “My Career”, everything flows smoothly. Graphically, it’s nice; not the best graphics on the market but you get what you expect from a standard PS4 in its final stages. The characters in the story and the stars of the team are easy to recognize, both in their appearance and in their style of play.

Photo: from NBA2K21 (screencap from PS4)

NBA 2K21 Online

You can choose to control an entire team, of all teams in the NBA. Single player mode also allows you to choose teams freely or play 3v3 with your “squad” (online friends) as you control your created player. These 3v3 matches flow well, without lag and delays. However, it takes a very long time to get together six random players to even be able to start the match.

Full team play online also works very well, the only problem I had with this game mode is that as soon as your opponent pauses the game or has to change players, he does not have to take a time out – but he pauses freely and then my screen pauses as well.

Photo: from NBA2K21 (screencap from PS4)

If you only want to control one player, you need to be ten players in total, which can take time. I waited for 40 minutes and then we had four pieces together, so I never got into that game mode.

Game mechanics flow NBA2K21 on significantly better than previous previous versions I tested and other contemporary sports games, no major delays or crashes (something that was constant in Madden 21). From last year’s edition, NBA 2K20, I also think that the movement of the players ball-bearing or non-ball-bearing has become more realistic than before. Not significantly, but enough to be noticed.

Photo: from NBA2K21 (screencap PS4)

What I sometimes found frustrating was the new “skill stick” function combined with the old timing mechanics for shooting. They are too difficult to maneuver, quite simply. Even if you create your own player with the “sniper” trait – which means that your best trait is distance shots – you will probably miss the majority of the shots, if you do not get a so-called “excellent release”. The mechanics of these two elements are so sensitive that if you release a little early or a little too late, you miss the shot 98% of the time.

NBA 2K21 shot
Photo: from NBA2K21 (screencap from PS4)

The online modes “My Team” and “My League”, on the other hand, are exactly the same as before. You can earn in-game credits to spend in these modes, if you really enjoy playing hours. However, as usual, it is so small that you will not be able to buy what you want. It will not be satisfying enough without spending real money. If you now want to spend your own money, they will lead you very easily to the side where it only takes a push of a button to get there… This type of microtransactions is here to stay and is not a must, but is always just as controversial that add as an extra cost on top of a full prize game (unless the game is basically free-2-play).

To sum up, I still have to say that I thought NBA 2K21 was entertaining and fun in its entirety. It may not be so inviting for those who have not followed the series and may just want to try playing some arcade basketball, as it can be somewhat difficult: the difficulty levels of the game range from Pro, All-Star, Superstar to Hall of Fame. Which, by and large, means that the game goes from “difficult” to “gentleman-shit-difficult”. Nothing for cubs and amateurs.

Footnote: NBA 2K21 also released in an improved version for next-gen (Playstation 5 and Xbox Series S / X).