NBA 2K21 Arcade Edition
NBA 2K21 Arcade Edition
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that NBA 2K21 Arcade Edition is a basketball game exclusively for Apple Arcade. The gameplay is similar to that in NBA 2K21 for consoles and NBA 2K21 Mobile for iOS/Android, with one notable and significant exception. Like other Apple Arcade titles that don't allow in-app purchases or advertisements, NBA 2K21 Arcade Edition doesn't contain any purchasable microtransactions, which parents may like. The game does feature team and arena-based logos, and logo-branded apparel, but otherwise, there's no concerning content.
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What’s It About?
NBA 2K21 ARCADE EDITION brings the bestselling sports sim to Apple Arcade without any advertisements or in-game purchase options. Similar to NBA 2K21 on console or PC and NBA 2K21 Mobile for iOS and Android, this version lets you play as or against your favorite NBA team, with sleek graphics, the latest NBA roster (with some exceptions), and various ways to control the action (including optional gamepad support). There are four main modes: Play Now (five-on-five basketball), Blacktop Quick Matches (over-the-top action on street courts), Online Multiplayer (for two players, even cross-platform across other Apple devices), and MyCareer (a story-based campaign to progress through). The character models resemble real-life NBA stars, including the likes of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, and more.
Is It Any Good?
While not without faults, this basketball game pushes the hardware to the limit to deliver visually impressive, responsive play, with four modes, including multiplayer support. Best of all, NBA 2K21 Arcade Edition removes a feature that has plagued the console and PC versions of NBA 2K21 (as well as most other modern sports games): It has no microtransactions. No spending real money for in-game currency, no loot boxes, no card packs to purchase in order to build your dream NBA team. Like other Apple Arcade titles, it's simply not allowed, and that's awesome in and of itself. As such, there's no MyTeam mode, as found in other versions of the game, but that doesn't mean there isn't a lot of meat on the bone here for one or two players. Speaking of two players, NBA 2K21 Arcade Edition supports cross-platform play between Apple devices, so you may be on an iPad but your online buddy could play on Apple TV, iPhone, or Mac. This is handled over iCloud and tied to your Game Center account, and the little-known feature is worth calling out.
The graphics really are extraordinary for a phone or tablet, but you may experience some slowdown in the 5v5 mode. It doesn't happen often, but it's very noticeable when it does. Two other issues: One, the artificial intelligence (AI) seems broken at times, such as a computer-controlled player that just stands there with the ball instead of shooting on an open net. Again, this doesn't happen too often but can be frustrating. Second, while 2K Sports claims the rosters are up to date, they're clearly out of date. For example, Andre Drummond is still with the Cleveland Cavaliers instead of the L.A. Lakers, while Nikola Vucevic is still with Orlando Magic in the game, but has gone to the Chicago Bulls in real life. This should be fixed with an update, and hopefully the AI issues too. Issues aside, though, NBA 2K21 Arcade Edition is a (near) slam-dunk NBA experience for Apple Arcade subscribers.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about microtransactions. Why aren't more game companies joining Apple Arcade or comparable services that guarantee no microtransactions or advertisements? Why do you think companies have been willing to allow microtransactions, even though it frustrates consumers?
How well does NBA 2K21 Arcade Edition mirror the sport? Are there some elements in the game or in its various modes that you won't find on a real court?
- Platform: Apple Arcade
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online?: Available online
- Publisher: 2K Sports
- Release date: April 5, 2021
- Genre: Sports
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Great Boy Role Models
- ESRB rating: E for No Descriptions
- Last updated: July 1, 2022
Our Editors Recommend
NBA 2K21 Next-Gen
Vastly improved game limited by tech issues, grinding play.
Basketball game shoots more air balls than buckets.
Over-the-top arcade b-ball puts Obama and Palin in game.
For kids who love sports
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