The days of racing games, shooters or even beaters as a next-gen purchase argument seem to be over for the time being: Those who want to encourage their friends or themselves to have done the right thing by buying a new, 500-euro console, are away from the formidable Demon’s Souls-Remakes a few arguments of the brand “jaw down” available. What you might not have on your radar but should consider: NBA 2K21. I had given little promise on Visual Concepts to deliver a real next-gen basketball experience at the start of the new devices – certainly also because the team and of course Publisher 2K have lost a lot of sympathy with their terrible microtransactions in recent years.
But graphically and in terms of presentation, the PS5 and Xbox Series X debut is a stunner. It starts with the intro tracking shot – the court looks so bright and crisp like never before. Basketball is probably better than FIFA for something like that, because the camera is always reasonably close to the game and you still have the necessary overview. All players look much more stylish than in the equally handsome version for PS4, Xbox One or PC, the prominent stars are a smooth stunner. Whether cover athlete Lillard, GOAT candidate LeBron, new Laker Dennis Schröder or many others – the athletes are extremely detailed (tattoos, beard, hands), shine with mostly matching facial animations and sweat wonderfully beautiful. I regularly caught myself switching to repetition in order to be able to enjoy the splendid graphics up close in slow motion. The basket with the grippy texture of the net or the ball itself are eye-catchers. In addition, the animations of the cheerleaders can be seen in the halftime show. The audience also shines a bit more detailed, but there is still room for improvement here.
On both next-gen consoles, the sport runs with 60 smooth images, and loading times are almost non-existent. This is also a significant improvement compared to the previous versions. Finally, on the PS5, there are also the advantages of the dual-sense controller: the more exhausted my player is, the more resistance there is on the right trigger when I want to sprint. At the same time, more force is needed to push on the left when my athlete is facing a stronger player while posturing. And then the Dual Sense shakes even more dramatically different and more intensely than the Xbox controller when it comes into physical contact. The Empiret ultimately not for a higher fun rating, but adds a cool component to the PS5 version. And it shows that Visual Concept has thought about the next-gen versions.
On that place
The WNBA, the North American women’s basketball league, finally has more presence in the game.
The feel of the game itself also benefits from the revision by the developer studio – although after a number of games I can only empathize with some of the full-bodied announcements (here and here). For comparison, I also inserted the PS4 version again and would definitely say that the sport is shown even more realistically on the new consoles. The weight and momentum of the players come across more strongly, the improved animation transitions ensure a smoother game and feel more contact with the floor. The system for lay-ups and throws via Pro-Stick (i.e. the right analog stick) can still be highly individualized in the menu – in any case, the extended power bar on the new consoles ensures greater accessibility. I got along well with it on PS4 and Xbox One, but many long-time series fans complained about the tricky throw timing on NBA 2K21. That the height of the ball flight curve is now due to the speedA pro-stick movement is a nice detail – but is only noticeable in direct comparison or when I practice for a long time on the training ground. I find the passing game even more elegant than on PS4 and Xbox One, especially high-risk passes (by double-pressing the circle key) or floor passes.