STAFF REVIEW of NBA 2K21 Next Generation (Xbox Series X)

Tuesday, December 15, 2020.
by John Elliott

NBA 2K21 Next Generation Box art It’s been quite a few years since I’ve jumped into an NBA game, actually I think the last time I popped in an NBA title was NBA 2K6. So, with that in mind it goes without saying I was definitely going to experience quite a few improvements, however, I am mainly going to be focusing on what has been brought to the table for the next generation systems, as I played this title on Xbox Series X. If you’re looking for a full in depth review I highly suggest you check out Brent’s review:

Typically, when I play any sports title, I like to jump into the MyPlayer game mode to introduce myself to the gameplay, any new mechanics, along with a bit of story to get a good feeling for the game. I was pleasantly surprised to find that in my absence from playing basketball in the past few years that they have made some huge strides and have brought the choice of playing in the WNBA. Dubbed, “The W” this is the first time ever that you can create a WNBA player to live out a career in the WNBA that has all 12 WNBA teams. As a father of a young lady it is great to see the representation of female athletes that for all of my years of gaming has not been a strong element in the sports genre. Kudos to 2K for being vanguards in making sports games representative of all genders and races.

Although playing in the MyPlayer mode has some great representation of the pros along with some colleges, the story part of NBA 2K21, although captivating and interesting at the beginning, just gets boring and repetitive later on. However, let’s face it; you’re not playing a basketball game for the story, but for the gameplay and the graphical experience.

This is where NBA 2K21 Next Generation kicks it up a notch, as you see how far graphics have inched ever so closer to looking like reality. In MyPlayer there are some actors that have been brought to life in their respective roles played by Djimon Honsou, Jesse Williams and Michael K. Williams who are exact replicas and had me going, “Wow! That’s so good!”. However, on the flip side your created player looks so cartoonish and blocky that the juxtaposition is staggering and ruins the graphical experience every time you see your created player. There are a lot of options when creating your player, but no matter what you do your character is going to stand out like a sore thumb.

Do I expect perfection with a created player? No, but I would expect it to compete with the other graphical representations of player models throughout the whole time, not just certain segments. Aside from this glaring issue everything else is smooth, beautiful and is animated with care. Being a former high school basketball player, it is nice to see actual movement that players would do while in the moment, like rocking back on your heels or standing on your tippy toes to get a little bounce in your step. Not all of the athletes do the same set of movements so the gameplay is a lot more organic rather than a rinse and repeat model often seen in sports titles.

In the background, unlike arenas during this current climate, are full of fans which breathe life into the game with even more unique interactions between fellow fans and vendors weaving in and out of the crowd, or fans photo bombing interviews. It’s nice to see a developer put some effort in this aspect of the game because typically this is an after thought and something I hope that is expanded on in the future, as it's small details like these that makes the gameplay much more immersive.

Speaking of making NBA more immersive is the stellar in-game soundtrack that has over 350 songs throughout the whole game and introduced myself to some new tracks that I’ve added to my Spotify playlist. Basketball and the music industry, especially Hip Hop, have gone in hand ever since I’ve played and watched the game. Be it a car stereo playing while you play on your local school playground or it blaring in the gymnasium, there are always songs that get players and fans pumped up.

What really makes NBA 2K21 even more special is playing it on an Xbox Series X, where the power in that box makes the overall experience so much better with very quick load times, amazing frame rates and quick and polished gameplay. Not only do you have better gameplay, gamers who are making the jump to next-gen after starting their careers on PS4 or Xbox One should rejoice as your MyTEAM Progression along with your VC Wallet will be shared across both current and next-gen consoles. This includes all of your points, tokens and pulled cards so you don’t have to feel like you have to stay last gen to just keep your stats.

Visual Concepts has made the jump to next-gen and has done so incredibly well for players jumping into NBA 2K21 for the first time, making it seamless for players since its initial launch to transfer to their progress to Xbox Series X|S. Aside from some created players needing a bit of an upgrade graphically, NBA 2K21 Next Generation is a solid sports title that fans will surely enjoy for the gameplay, its visuals and love of the game.

**NBA 2K21 Next Generation was reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 8.6 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10


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