With the release of NBA 2K21 I figured I would do a similar review for the game as I did for Madden 21. Which actually now I feel like is worse than when I initially reviewed it. Madden really sucks this year.
This website is known for it’s boisterous NBA 2K takes so let’s keep up our reputation shall we?
Your Aim Is Off
The first thing anyone will notice when they first pick up the game and start to play it is that the shot mechanic has changed.
In years past there use to be a small reward for using the shot stick to shoot. In recent editions that has been turned down. Now all of a sudden this year when you use the shot stick it will matter about aiming the shot.
It’s a cool concept. I mean in real life guys have to aim their shot. And for the hardcore gamers who enjoy a challenge it is a nice added feature. It’s also a welcomed change to the players who hate timing their shots. With the shot aiming feature all you have to do is worry about the aim the computer will take over the timing for you.
It’s a pretty steep learning curve, and it’s going to take you grinding in the gym by yourself before you’re ready to unleash it online or at the park.
But let’s just say that if your swing is off in PGA 2K21, maybe don’t use this feature.
For the casual player not to fear, you can easily turn off this feature in the settings mid-game if you so choose.
It Feels Real-ish
The gameplay elsewhere feels pretty good overall. While there are still moments where your transition defense will make you want to scream into a pillow, it’s not that bad.
For starters, I feel as though rebounding has taken a step up. There will be fights for the ball, sometimes the ball gets tapped straight up in the air for two or three players leaping at it to try and corral the board. Other times the ball will get hit out of bounds on a rebound which could be frustrating for some, but it’s also realistic.
Help defense has been addressed. In old versions of 2K, a slippery point guard could like John Wall, Kemba Walker or De’Aaron Fox could take over a game by simply running a pick and roll and sprint into the open paint for a wide open layup or dunk.
In this years version the AI will actually come and play help defense in the paint to negate the easy bucket. This year the AI defense has made it a personal mission to stop easy buckets down low.
Although with that help defense sometimes you get the open guy in the corner or on the opposite block. So it will take you recognizing that and making the extra pass, but that makes it feel real.
Dribble moves feel more realistic. You no longer need to have outrageous speed boosts to be able to get around someone. A couple of good crossover moves should give you a little bit of space to be able to make a move. Now it won’t turn into a thunderous dunk every time you do it but it’s still a good feeling to dribble yourself into some open space.
When you first play you will feel slow on defense. But it makes it a challenge, you can’t just put your body in front of someone and watch the animation of your player acting like a brick wall play out. It has turned into a real cat and mouse game this year.
But it should feel that way, Anthony Davis should not be as quick and elusive as Steph Curry, but Curry shouldn’t be as powerful as Davis. It’s a good back and forth that makes you really focus on what type of player you’re using.
— ShakeDown🏀🎮 (@ShakeDown2012) September 21, 2020
The biggest addition to My Career this year is that you get to play with college teams. And quite a bit I might add.
Although the player archetype system is still the same as last year, where your skills, speed etc. are dependent on your position, size and pie chart.
You start as a kid named Junior, not the worst My Career nickname, *cough* Che, Pres, Frequency Vibrations *cough*. Your dad was a superstar in college but he is dead now. Not quite as tragically as Vic though. You swore off basketball until a coach comes and convinces you to play in high school.
You impress and play well enough to get a scholarship to one of ten colleges; Michigan State, Connecticut, Florida, Gonzaga, Syracuse, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Villanova, UCLA or West Virginia.
From there you will play in nine games with your school. You can choose to play all nine games and start to grind your players VC and badges before ever getting to the NBA or you can completely skip it.
You can choose to skip the story altogether and head to the new Neighborhood. Or at any point you can skip to the NBA draft, albeit, get drafted lower, thus less VC for you, per game your rookie year.
There is even a cut scene that gives you the choice to keep grinding or skip ahead to the NBA when you get into a fight with your girlfriend.
Once you finish college you begin to prepare for the draft. But you have a big choice to make. You have to choose an agent.
There is Archie, a friend of your fathers who has helped you get to this point or Harper Dell a highly touted professional. There are differences between each one you choose.
With Archie, it will take you longer/more fans to get sponsorships but for each one you get more VC as his commission is at a friends and family discount. You also gain more fans by playing in the neighborhood than you would in actual NBA games. So if you plan on playing mostly in the neighborhood, go with Archie.
Harper on the other hand will get you sponsorships quicker and with less fans required. However your VC for events is lower since she takes a bigger cut. And she gets you more fans by playing in the NBA games themselves. So if you aren’t a big neighborhood player, she’s your agent.
The draft logic doesn’t make a ton of sense. Throughout the story you have a friendly rivalry with Hendrixx Cobb. He’s basically your equal.
When you go to work out for a NBA team you can only choose one to work out for. And that team ends up drafting Cobb first overall and then you tenth overall. You both play the same position and he’s an 80 overall yet no matter your overall he starts ahead of you.
It’s sort of frustrating and remember that when you basically pick the team you want to play for.
It’s kind of disappointing since 2K my career was always fun to sort of not know where you would be drafted it’s not very fun to the story when you basically just end up picking where to go and then your friend/rival goes there too.
I enjoyed playing the college basketball games. This years rise to the top I think was better than years past where you would be over in China or grinding in the G-League or even worse being noticed at some park event.
I like the story where you are a superstar throughout college and into the NBA, not the ones where you grind on some 10 day contract for a spot. I’m suppose to believe my dude from the G-League, playing on a 10 day contract, is going to turn into Lebron James?
The story this year was sort of meh. As usual the voice acting was pretty good, but I just didn’t feel anything when my girlfriend of four cutscenes dumped me.
Life’s a Beach
The Neighborhood got a much needed face lift and turned into the beach. With courts now bright and vibrant colors.
Much of it however is still the same. There is still barber and tattoo shops as well as shoes and other accessories for your player.
So while 2K put the effort into a new paint job for the neighborhood that’s really all it is, no over the top changes.
Looks The Same To Me
One easy knock on this years version of 2K is that it is basically copied and pasted from last years game. The presentation is basically 100% the same. Franchise and GM mode is the exact same which I know some people are upset about but hey it’s still a million times better than Madden.
So if you were looking for changes in that regard there’s absolutely zero change. In fact jerseys and court designs haven’t even changed. The Cavaliers court still has a giant gold “50” at mid court for celebrating their anniversary LAST YEAR.
So that is slightly disappointing. But obviously the NBA is still stuck playing in the bubble in Orlando. So while 2K21 is out, the NBA is still playing last years season so that’s understandable.
My other theory is that sports games for 2020 will just simply be underwhelming.
First, not sure if you heard, but there is a pandemic going on and I’m sure that slowed down any progress these companies had.
Second with the next generation consoles right around the corner it’s no big surprise that these companies would want to wait and put their best foot forward in next years version.
So Does It Suck?
Yes and no. If you were to watch some videos of NBA 2K20 and NBA 2K21 you probably wouldn’t really be able to spot the differences between the two. Like I said it’s basically the same game, copied and pasted and without new uniforms or players or anything at all. Which for some might be strikes one, two and three.
But remember that the 2019-20 NBA season is still happening and 2K doesn’t have a ton to work off of right now.
But in playing the game you will notice that it’s a little bit different from its predecessor. Defense has changed, the feel of the game has changed and has become more realistic.
The shot aiming dynamic is new and after some practice, maybe it becomes your go to secret weapon.
Either way, it’s better than Madden.
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