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NBA 2K21 Review

When it comes to sports games, the NBA 2K series is one of the biggest franchises ever and certainly offers the best basketball simulation experience today. However, in the last few years, there haven’t been any significant changes between releases other than some quality-of-life improvements and updated rosters. Unfortunately, 2K21 follows the same path and doesn’t include any major changes from last year’s iteration except for an optional shooting mechanic. While many enjoyable elements of the game are still untouched, there are some recurrent issues that are frustrating to see at this stage of the series’ life cycle.

From a gameplay perspective, 2K21 proves once again why it is second to none thanks to its engaging gameplay and great visuals that accurately depict the players’ real-life counterparts. The core mechanics of the game are still very solid both on the offensive and defensive ends, especially with the increased efficiency of mismatches. In general, dribbling feels more responsive and chaining multiple moves together works much better now especially with players like Kyrie Irving and James Harden. The CPU is also better at deciding when to double team in comparison to last year’s excessive use of the mechanic. This has been an issue for several years, and it’s maddening that it remains so apparent. The most notable change is the addition of the new shot stick, which places an emphasis on both aiming and timing (in contrary to just timing in previous games). While the transition to this new shooting mechanic was difficult at first, it started to grow on me since it lends a much smoother transition from dribble moves to a pull up shot.

As the most popular game mode, MyCareer features high school and NCAA basketball as part of your journey prior to being drafted into the NBA. The story benefits greatly from the actors’ performances which take the rather cliché narrative and transform it into a realistic journey of a young NBA prospect stuck in his father’s shadow. However, the mode is still plagued with microtransactions which means that you must choose between grinding for many hours to earn VC points or purchasing them to give yourself a boost. This has been a recurrent theme that has been addressed by players countless times across many different iterations of the game, however microtransactions still manage to find a way to seep into the game.

MyTeam lets you build your own roster by playing modes such as Triple Threat, Domination, and Unlimited. FIFA fans would be very familiar with this game mode as it is 2K’s version of the ever so popular Ultimate Team mode. For the most part, this mode is quite rewarding and makes it quite easy to have a decent starting lineup from the start, granted you redeem some of the locker codes found here. The action house is also a great way to buy and sell players for some nice profit if you’re smart with your purchases and manage to get good deals even after 10% MT Tax.

While NBA 2K21 doesn’t implement any major improvements over the last few iterations, the gameplay is still as solid as ever. On the other hand, the game still suffers from the same issues as before, namely heavy dependence micro transactions and a lack of significant improvements to existing game modes. Perhaps the release of next-gen consoles could help breath new life into the NBA 2K series which has been lacking innovation for quite a while now.

GameRev was provided with a digital download code for the purpose of this review.

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