NBA 2K20 was the best basketball game of last year , without a doubt (not that there was much competition, of course). Exactly the same was expected from 2K21 ; no more no less. Visual Concepts and 2K have retouched everything that can be retouched in their walk along a continuous path that has as its destination, once again, the throne of virtual basketball. The news, yes, they stay more in twists and turns than in rethinking the experience. You know: if it ain’t broke, why fix it?
Those who go from the 2020 edition to this year will hardly notice any changes; Updated rosters, players with stats adjusted to their latest season, and familiar gameplay . It is not easy to find the balance that justifies buying a new game and at the same time brings us a known product that is just what we hope to find. 2K knows how to do it: the same every year, please and thank you. This time the pandemic may have affected, because the changes come – for better or for worse – with a dropper.
Thus, in 2K21 the main novelty is the story of the My Career mode, which this time is titled ‘The long shadow’. As you can deduce from the name, we put ourselves in the shoes of the son of a college basketball legend who never made it to the NBA and who is played by Jesse Williams (Jackson Avery in Grey’s Anatomy).
Michael K. Williams (the unforgettable Omar Little from The Wire) and Djimon Hounsou (Korath in Guardians of the Galaxy) join a squad in which there are also cameos from the world of basketball, but which falls a little short compared to last year . The story also goes from a reflection (light and tangential, but reflection) on the lives of university athletes to a cluster of rather bland scenes.
The script is spiced up by all the topics that we could expect and the occasional decision that, in the long run, is quite irrelevant. As happened last year, everything is forgotten when you get to the NBA. Although it is always appreciated that there is a story as such in this mode, it seems that the narrative effort has been minimal and we are left with a pastiche of sentimentality more typical of the Christmas announcement of a bank than of a video game that hopes to be triple A .
Another aspect that should be worked on is the draft, as it seems that we will always end up in our favorite team if we do well in the prologue and train with them. It makes sense narratively, but it loses its grace if it ends up putting the first two picks in the hands of a franchise (the Sixers, in my case) that in the real world isn’t even in the lottery. The good news is that if this is tweaked and improved to make the script accompany us in, at least, the first months of the race (if the team has to transfer its star to bet on us, for example) this mode take a giant leap with the next generation.
In return we have the best possible experience of what it would be like to be in the NBA. Game by game and season by season, the My Career mode will accompany us for hours that will soon become days and then weeks. The possibility of a career worthy of the Hall of Fame is one of the attractions of the saga.
To this must be added a spectacular media display in the recreation of the matches, especially if you play with the comments in English, which provide relevant information about teams, coaches and players (even in the universities of the My Career mode) and small interviews . In Spanish they defend themselves with Antoni Daimiel, Sixto Miguel Serrano and Jorge Quiroga , whose contribution can only be criticized if it is compared with the colossus that is the original version.
Regarding the gameplay, the launch system with the stick has been tweaked, which now takes into account the direction in which the basket is located. In practice, it requires a lot more ditto to master it. Fortunately, the button (square or B, depending on the version) comes to the rescue of those who do not have the time, desire or ability to get frustrated to get hold of it. In any case, the feeling is that it is somewhat more difficult to score shots with precision, something that even Damian Lillard himself , the protagonist of the NBA 2K21 cover (the basic edition, at least), has recognized. At the 2K21 free throw line, we are all Shaq (or Ben Simmons, for the younger generation).