It has been 2K21 MT a long time since we have covered sports titles in Digital Foundry, but with the advent of NBA 2K21 on the newest wave of consoles, we are watching something genuinely fascinating here, using a proper generational jump in fidelity throughout the board. To illustrate that, we have a peek at the game mostly on PlayStation 5 and PS4 Pro, but we also spent some time with the Xbox Series consoles. Delivering such a huge excellent improvement is quite an achievement in my opinion. While it may not appear this way on the outside, sports games really are from what I can tell - one of the more difficult genres to work on. Truncated development programs require yearly admissions in each show, meaning less time between every release but more than that, these matches have to match up to some properly'actual' experience, often delivered with a TV-like demonstration. A game such as NBA 2K21 should deal with actual people in real places performing complex, interlinking actions. If you're off by even a hair, then you're diving straight into the uncanny valley.
So what makes this so difficult? Well, nailing down the player and arenas likenesses is a huge part of the equation but it's the movement which makes this difficult. Realistic animation, momentum, and collision of every player on the court is a huge challenge. Developer Visual Concepts - whose work on this franchise dates all of the way back into the Dreamcast era - is doing some fantastic work here. While it's easy enough to see the imperfections in the visuals, if you just allow the game wash over you, it really begins to look surprisingly authentic in actions. When firing on cylinders, it truly does look as a basketball.NBA 2K21 involves a vast roster of players out of current NBA athletes to legends from the past. By and large, the quality of the rendering of every player is of top quality. The models themselves are intricately detailed with realistic skin shading, sweat, and facial expressions. Players look round the courtroom and react to plays in real-time. It is not perfect, because there's a sign of the dead eyes' impact, but it's solid. As with last-gen variations, 2K21 uses a fabric simulation for uniforms as well - because you move round the court, the cloth flows and responds realistically.