NBA 2K21 | Review of the Next-Gen version

NBA 2K21 | Review of the Next-Gen version
Visual Concepts had left us, last September, with the promise that the next-gen version of NBA 2K21 would be a clear step forward for the series, to the point that it could be considered a completely new edition. The reality of the facts, we must admit, does not differ much from the statement of the developers as the version for Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 is based on the changes to the gameplay, seen last September, and goes to modify, refine and improve a plethora of elements to offer a more immersive and realistic experience.

The Long Shadow

Let's start our analysis of the next-gen version of NBA 2K21 precisely from that career mode that had positively impressed us in our previous analysis. The Long Shadow returns, in fact, unchanged in the bone structure but with renewed muscle tissue designed to offer a longer and more varied experience. The first, important, change is found in our character editor which now offers a more complete and "libertine" management of the athlete. We could not, of course, create "invincible monsters", but the greater freedom offered in the breakdown of statistics guarantees a greater variety that we hope will also transform into a real differentiation in multiplayer modes.

As for the main story, once our Junior can enter college we will be offered the G League alternative. A really interesting branch that offers a new variant to the plot that will return to its original tracks, only in the moment of the Draft. Another big change can be found in the District, now renovated in the City, where in addition to the welcome return of affiliations, a whole series of secondary activities await us, linked to the various NPCs, which greatly extend the longevity of the Career mode. Although everything is actually better than the version released in September, we continue to find the progression of the character too oriented towards pushing the player to purchase VC points. Although it is clear that the economic model of NBA 2K21 is based purely on microtransactions, the real need for a turn towards a less invasive and more user friendly system begins to be felt.

Two shots to the basket

Once the parquet is covered, NBA 2K21 begins to show a series of small improvements which, although not immediately perceptible, succeed in making the games more realistic . The biggest refinement can be found in game physics, where the famous Impact Engine guarantees more realistic body collisions and a rendering of the movements of the players more similar to the real counterparts. Athletes will now independently adjust their position on the field before taking a shot, almost as if they are aware of the space they are in. Small details such as landings, pivot foot position and body animations during gameplay may seem like a small thing but we guarantee that once you get back to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 edition, you will feel like you are switching between day to night.

All these slight changes, of course, lead the next-gen version of NBA 2K21 to offer an experience that is not only more immersive but also more dynamic and responsive. The more natural movements of the bodies, in fact, help ensure a more controlled game action, more precise dribbling and a better positioning of the athletes on the pitch by the player. However, all the small imperfections in the collisions seen in the September edition remain, as well as some game actions that can literally "break" the balance and that continue to clamor for an update to fix them.

Finally, we report some additions also in terms of game modes, in particular to MyNBA (which now groups within it MyGM and MyLeague) and the unprecedented The W, that is, a timid Career mode dedicated to women's basketball, which we hope it will evolve in a similar way to the main Career, by the next edition. At the moment The W allows, in fact, to create an athlete to be introduced in one of the twelve women's basketball teams, to have it affirmed and subsequently used in online 3V3 matches. An interesting introduction but one that we are sure has an immense margin of expansion ahead of it. MyTeam, on the other hand, maintains the changes seen in the September edition and allows the player to transfer their progress between the two versions.

NBA 2K21 on next-gen

We could only conclude this brief analysis dissecting the technical / graphic sector of this new version of NBA 2K21. To say that as soon as you start a game you will not find any differences compared to the version for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One would be a blatant lie as, from the selection screen of the teams, you can breathe the air of a generational leap. The glance is remarkable and does not disappoint and all the players' models show an impressive restyle in terms of physiognomy, similarities with the real counterparts and realism of the polygonal models. If we have to make a very small note about this restyle, we can say that the facial expressions, compared to such realism of the models, detach excessively, letting out empty and not very credible expressions but, with the exception of this small detail, everything that moves on the field, and not, it is really impressive.

Ray tracing can be perceived from the first moments of the game and the new lighting management enhances the reflections on the parquet and, together with the excellent of HDR, returns a vibrant and realistic color palette. All non-player characters, whether they are professionals or mere spectators, are now managed independently, with polygonal models created ad hoc to offer the right degree of immersion even in moments of pause in the match. NBA 2K21 moves at 60fps with a resolution of 4K and, as normal as it may seem to you, the moment you play with the new binary camera, and you notice how much detail really goes into composing every single player moving on the field, it will seem a truly incredible result.

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