I'm GamesRadar+'s sports editor, obsessed with NBA 2K Coins NFL, WWE, MLB -- and very sometimes things that don't possess a three-letter acronym. Namely: Bill Bryson, Pitch Perfect, and also the Streets Of Rage series. I've got two kids who aren't quite old enough to play Madden yet. Shortly, thoug...
NBA 2K21 is officially out now, but I only got my entire review copy yesterday , so this inspection in advance will spill over into next week (following the Labor Day weekend). But I managed to put in a good number of hours yesterday, and at that time NBA 2K21 has made it crystal clear that it has claimed the franchise's listing of stellar on-court gameplay. Most of the updates are relatively modest, like loose rebounds feeling and looking far more realistic, but they also help add to an already strong foundation. The best aspect of NBA 2K21 so much is the controller tweaks, like the new aim meter, make for an all-new learning curve. Unfortunately, upgrades to the encompassing game modes seem fairly barebones.
The aim-meter mechanic is really difficult to master, but has already led to some quite satisfying one-on-one isolation successes. It's nice having the ability to use the right stick exclusively as a sculpting tool till I'm ready to pull back for a shot. The capability to size-up, which can be tied to special dribbling animations for many of the best players in the league, and isolate is much far better than ever. I spent a few hours experimenting with various playstyles, like easing the pick-and-roll with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. It's tremendously rewarding to use Doncic's size and footwork to create space - something I could not replicate with other guards on the group, like Seth Curry. While it is not completely new, NBA 2K21's capability to emulate players' playstyles is exceptional this season.
That said, there are a few frustrating gameplay issues I've come across, too. Fastbreaks seem slightly improved, but participant spacing is still noticeably off. For instance, even my best three-point shooters will monitor within the three-point line on fast breaks when they would be better off finding space in the corner. In general, it seems like NBA 2K21 hasn't fully adapted to the emphasis modern NBA basketball has set on the three-point line. Quick catch-and-shoots aren't as prevalent as they should be, and closing out is still far too simple on defense.
Likewise frustrating is the CPU's ability to make problems for itself. In my brief time with NBA 2K21, I have already seen two backcourt violations on wide-open inbounds passes. It functioned as a jarring reminder that I was not, in fact, experiencing a real game of NBA basketball.
From a cursory glance, MyLeague seems to have received almost zero upgrades. The manner has a good set of features built into it already, but that Cheap NBA 2K MT is actually the second year in a row with no noteworthy advancements. As someone who loves to deep-dive into franchise construction, it is really disappointing that there is so little effort being placed into the manner.