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NBA 2K21 Review: Extremely fun, but only if you're willing to look past the monotonicity

Damian Lillard is the cover star this time
Damian Lillard is the cover star this time
Rupam Nag
Modified 01 Oct 2020, 02:00 IST

2K Sports released their latest edition of popular basketball simulation video game NBA 2K21 on the 4th of September this year. Featuring Damian Lillard as the cover star, the game also has two other variants - the Mamba Forever Edition featuring Kobe Bryant and the Next-Gen Standard Edition featuring Zion Williamson.

NBA 2K21 is available on most leading platforms, including the Xbox One, the PlayStation 4, and even iOS and Android. It will also be released for the Xbox Series X/S and the PlayStation 5 in November this year.

NBA 2K21 was one of the most eagerly anticipated releases of the year, and basketball fans around the globe waited impatiently ever since a teaser was released back in June. How does the latest instalment of the NBA 2K series fare? Is it much of an improvement over its predecessor? It's time to find out.

NBA 2K21 Review: Gameplay Mechanics

Basketball is not an easy sport to emulate, but 2K21 does a good job of it
Basketball is not an easy sport to emulate, but 2K21 does a good job of it

NBA 2K21 is the first edition in the history of the video game franchise that accounts for direction when shooting the basketball. Known as 'shot-stick aiming', it requires the player to adjust the direction of the shooting stick towards the basket to his best ability.

In previous editions, only the timing of release mattered. This new addition makes the shooting mechanism much more similar to real life, and 2K have done a great job in this regard. Other aspects like passing, driving to the rim, and dunking - among other things - are usually flawless. That being said, on a few rare occasions, the passes do not reach its intended target.

Also, alley-oops did prove troublesome to pull off initially, but it isn't much of an issue once you get used to it. A trademark LeBron James 'quarterback-like' alley-oop to Anthony Davis is almost impossible to perfect, which is probably a good thing.

Rating: 8/10


Also Read: NBA 2K21 release: 5 absurd stats from the game that have left the fans shocked

NBA 2K21 Review: Artificial Intelligence

Many of the complaints from NBA 2K20 resurfaced, as the Artificial Intelligence continued to disappoint on several instances. Unforced backcourt violations have somehow still not been taken care of.

The AI will inbound the ball in the opponent's half under no pressure whatsoever, only for the player in possession to moonwalk his way past the half-court mark to commit the comical turnover.

Switching during screens and defending the pick-and-roll offense have definitely improved. However, double teams are too easy to counter, as the opposition will almost always leave one shooter wide open. There's definitely a lot of room for improvement when it comes to the AI.

Rating: 5/10

NBA 2K21 Review: Graphics

Replays are captured magnificently, and you
Replays are captured magnificently, and you'll surely end up saving a few

It is difficult to notice any significant changes made in this characteristic from NBA 2K20, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. 2K has always had the best in-class graphics for a long time now, and still has some of the most aesthetic visuals among all sports video games ever made.

However, they are a little monotonous. The cut-scenes are the same, as are the opening previews and championship ceremonies. One can hardly differentiate between a gameplay clip from NBA 2K21 and its predecessor NBA 2K20. It would certainly not hurt to see a few additions to the already present cut-scenes.

Rating: 9/10

NBA 2K21 Review: Game Modes

It is quite difficult to succeed online without spending real money
It is quite difficult to succeed online without spending real money

NBA 2K has probably the best season simulator in any sports video game ever made. MyLeague and MyGM are extremely fun to toy around with, and fairly realistic if you tweak the sliders a little.

However, at the risk of sounding repetitive, it must be mentioned that there is little to no change from NBA 2K20. As great as MyLeague is, it isn't perfect, so 2K making no changes or additions to this game mode is certainly surprising.


The MyCareer storyline is way too predictable to be considered enjoyable, although there is an option to skip straight to the NBA draft. It has been smooth sailing so far when it comes to playing online, despite it being quite difficult to build a great team without shelling out a few bucks from the pocket.

The classic quick match with a friend still reigns supreme, though.

Finally, we can use WNBA teams in 2K
Finally, we can use WNBA teams in 2K

The decision to include the WNBA in NBA 2K21 is an excellent one, though it is a little disappointing to see the Taurasis and Wilsons absent from other game modes like MyLeague.

Rating: 7/10

NBA 2K21 Review: Final Verdict


Overall, NBA 2K21 is a really fun way to kill time. The season simulation modes are still the star of the show, and online gaming is a pleasant experience. The graphics are top-notch as usual.

Artificial intelligence leaves much to be desired, but there are notable improvements from last year. It feels very much like an update patch on NBA 2K20, and that might be annoying for fans of the game who have waited a long time for its latest edition.

Regardless, if you consider it as a solitary game, NBA 2K21 is one of the best in the business and certainly worth your time.

Overall Rating: 7/10

Also Read: Miami Heat vs LA Lakers: 5 key match-ups to look forward to in the NBA Finals 2020

Published 01 Oct 2020, 02:00 IST
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