The new NBA 2K21 captures the feel of a real-world basketball game, immersing you in the experience of being cheered on by thousands of fans as you make your shot. Those who have played the NBA 2K20 will find themselves in familiar territory with the NBA 2K21. It’s basically the same game but with several minor upgrades. As with all games by Visual Concepts and 2K Sports, NBA 2K21 looks as sharp and as visually pleasing as its predecessors.

Released just two months before the PlayStation 5, the NBA 2K21 comes in a current-gen Standard Version that will be superseded by a next-generation version in just a few weeks. The upcoming next-gen version called the Mamba Forever edition is designed for Sony’s new console, and those who purchase it will receive a copy of the PS5 game when it launches.

Release date: September 4, 2020 Available on: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, (PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X coming soon)

Price: $59.99 (Standard Edition), $99.99 (Mamba Forever Edition)

The NBA 2K21 Standard Edition is basically the base edition. It doesn’t include an upgrade to the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X versions, but it does have 5000 virtual in-game currency, 9 MyCareer Skill Boosts, 5,000 MyTeam points for acquiring card packs, 5 pairs of virtual shoes for your MyPlayer to wear, and much more.

The Mamba Forever edition is the only special edition for the NBA 2K21. It pays tribute to the late Kobe Bryant on the cover and allows players to download the NBA 2K21’s Standard Edition on the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X when they launch. This edition comes with free 100,000 Virtual Currency, 60 MyCareer skill boosts, the Kobe Bryant Digital Collection, 40 MyTeam promo packs, and more.

GamePlay

Perhaps the most significant upgrade in the NBA 2K21 is the “Pro Stick” feature that gives users more control when handling the ball. The Pro Stick allows for a more fluid experience, which translates to more dramatic animations when shooting. However, with this fluidity, users will have to position the stick more accurately, and not rely solely on timing.

But it doesn’t make the game bad. It’s an adjustment that will take some time to get used to, but with practice, shooting does feel smoother. One thing we would have changed is the colors on the meter when trying to shoot. The colors are hard to see, but we’re hoping that a future patch will allow players to customize the colors and the size of the bar to make it more visible.

Besides the Pro Stick feature, NBA 2K21 feels the same as its predecessor, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The 2K20 was easily one of the strongest sports games of its year.

There were some moments when off-ball movement felt a bit strange, such as when balls would get stuck on other players, and when non-playable teammates wouldn’t automatically grab a loose ball or help.

Overall, NBA 2K21 is one of the most realistic NBA offerings out there. The new shooting experience changes the entire gameplay, but those who aren’t into it can always switch to traditional and more familiar controls.

It’s no surprise that the NBA 2K21 stands out above most sports games. It still features strong commentary, stadium announcements, pregame chatter, and chants from the crowd — all contributing to an extremely immersive and realistic experience.

The best way to describe it is that it’s a mirror image of the NBA 2K20. It looks almost the same, except for added mannerisms to players. With attention to detail such as proper body proportions, physics behind jersey movements, and even sweat shine, the NBA 2K21 is a game that hides its best gems in its details.

NBA 2K21 looks good from all camera angles and looks even better when you zoom in to really see the details.

Feature

The NBA 2K21 is packed with a wide array of content to entertain you for hours. Here are a few of the upgrades you can find in 2K21:

In NBA 2K21, your MyTEAM collection will be carried over across different consoles: from PS4 to PS5 and from Xbox One to Xbox Series X. Evolution cards also branch out, which means there are countless ways to make your players unique. If you have badge cards that you don’t need, you can trade them through The Exchange. Seasonal content will also be added to MyTEAM throughout the year.

NBA 2K21’s narrative is called The Long Shadow. It follows Junior, a high schooler who wants to make it to the NBA. To make it even more realistic, MyCAREER features ten real college programs to choose from: Michigan State, UConn, Florida, Gonzaga, Syracuse, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, UCLA, Villanova University, and West Virginia.

MyCAREER’s story is filled with cameos from familiar faces such as Michael K. Williams, Djimon Hounsou, Mireille Enos, and Jesse Williams. For a sports game, MyCAREER tells a compelling story without too much melodrama.

This year’s neighborhood is called 2K Beach. It’s a beautiful location that will make you feel like you’re right beside the ocean. NBA 2K21 will host several events at 2K Beach all year long, so you’ll be spending a lot of time at the Neighborhood.

Feel like a real baller with apparel and sneakers from popular brands. NBA 2K21 showcases an even better soundtrack, featuring tracks from famous singers and breakthrough artists.

One thing to note is that NBA 2K21 relies heavily on Virtual Currency, especially in MyTEAM. MyTEAM is a card-based system where you can build your ideal team by buying players, jerseys, and more. To get the most out of MyTEAM, you’ll have to constantly buy new players and packs, which means spending real money. Everything your character does, even in MyCAREER, will earn a bit of Virtual Currency that you can use to upgrade your character or save up for more expensive packs, but it does take a while. Eventually, you’ll find yourself paying for Virtual Currency just to move forward in the game.

Verdict

NBA 2K21 is a fantastic addition to the NBA 2K series which long-time players will love. It smoothed out the shooting difficulty and added details that make the game the most realistic one in its series. With a compelling narrative and nearly flawless gameplay, NBA 2K21 is easily one of the best sports games out there. Our only problem is how much the game obsesses over Virtual Currency. But besides that, the NBA 2K21 is still a top-tier basketball game.

With the PlayStation 5 coming out soon, it’s probably wiser to buy the NBA 2K21 Mamba Forever Edition — you’ll be able to get the Standard Edition with it anyway. Buying the Mamba Forever Edition is also a nice way of paying tribute to one of basketball’s greatest legends.