Gaming

NBA 2K21 review: Fading glory of basketball

Apart from a few fixes, it doesn’t try to reinvent anything

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As of writing, we’re still in the midst of the NBA Playoffs taking place in Orlando, Florida. As the NBA turned to a quarantine bubble setup, the game just doesn’t feel the same. Fortunately, this time of the year — as weird as 2020 has gone — brings one constant thing to NBA fans alike. That’s right, a new NBA 2K video game!

NBA 2K21 comes around with almost the exact same flavor as its predecessor. It’s still the same kind of sports simulation that mirrors pre-pandemic NBA basketball. The live crowds, the clutch plays, and the jaw-dropping moments — it’s the same full NBA experience. But is this version of the game worth even looking at, now?

Is there anything new to look forward to?

Rodneil: There really wasn’t anything that’s remarkably new that was announced leading up to the game. It’s a little disappointing. But that may also be because 2K has already done everything it can do on the PS4/PS4 Pro platform?

Gab: I personally had zero expectations coming into the game. I got to play the demo a little bit and I got a glimpse of some of the changes — like the shot meter. Also, that demo pretty much jinxed the NBA Finals by putting the Bucks and Clippers in it. But again, it’s still the same NBA 2K game as before.

What made NBA 2K21 stand out from last year?

Gab: In my opinion, they didn’t do much to make this version stand out in any way. It’s still the same core experience as the previous two games. However, they tweaked the Pro Stick a little bit to add more fluidity to certain actions done in-game. And of course, there’s the change in the shooting controls when using the Pro Stick.

Rodneil: Some face scans and overall character models for players in the all-time and classic teams also look better. Previously, they looked like “lite” versions of players models in current teams, but no longer seems to be the case. 

That said, some classic teams are in desperate need of more real players. If all 2K has rights to are just five players from that classic team, that isn’t much of a team. Either they put more thought into the generic players or they just scrap the team altogether and just add them when they have at least 8 players from that team. 

What about the game modes? Are they any different from before?

Rodneil: I only really spend most of my time on three game modes: Quick Play, MyCareer, MyLeague/MyGM. For MyLeague/MyGM, I mostly customize the experience to my liking. Since I grew up looking up to players that entered the league around the 90s to 2000s, I would usually load user-created rosters and relive a particular NBA season. 

I’m not sure if there are enough players like me, but I think a good addition would be a “What if” or “Legacy” option in MyLeague. What it will do is let you relive a particular season and make your own trades. 

Of course, I understand the challenges of getting the rights to all the players but perhaps what 2K can do is highlight user-created rosters that can be used for each mode but have the year change from 2020-201 to whatever season you’re trying to relive. 

Gab: Apart from the usual Quick Play and MyCareer, I do play MyTeam from time to time. Even in the previous versions, I always found myself going through this game mode to take a break from getting triple-doubles in MyCareer. I honestly felt that this time around, there’s actually an incentive to keep playing.

The usual roster of mini game modes and weekly challenges are there, which also ultimately test your game skill. This time, they even included a whole progression-type of reward system like how most shooter games have battle passes. Essentially, you earn XP to level up and earn rewards as you reach certain levels.

This is honestly a great addition to MyTeam as a whole. Before, I felt like there’s really nothing much you could do in it when you’ve finished the challenges. With this added feature of a progression-style reward system, I get to explore more of MyTeam.

Speaking of MyCareer, how did NBA 2K21 handle it?

Gab: MyCareer this time around was disappointing, at best. Last year, they did an entire college stretch, and it just felt like it wasn’t worth the wait. While I applaud going all the way back into a high school root, it just made the tedious part even more so.

For starters, I don’t know if it’s pretty common to switch sports in your senior year of high school. But somehow, that’s how this story begins: with Junior switching to high school basketball at the wake of his dad, Duke’s death. It doesn’t necessarily add anything new to the MyCareer experience, and instead makes the campaign longer.

Rodneil: The whole prep-to-pro thing just feels really out of place now. Plus your player during that period just doesn’t feel like it’s worth playing.

I want a story that chronicles an NBA journey, not some forced narrative about who I am as a player.  It’s called MyCareer but every year it just keeps feeling like the story doesn’t match the game mode. 

After all of that, is this still worth playing?

NBA 2K21 serves the obvious mixed bag of great basketball with roughly the same mix of game modes to boot. The action, player movement, and dynamic player moments is still top-notch. And while questionable decisions were made to the core gameplay, it’s still a joy to play even when you’re just passing time.

If you were getting into NBA 2K21 with a lot of expectations, I assure you that you will be disappointed, at best. An extended MyCareer storyline, coupled with not-so-stacked Classic teams for Quick Play don’t seem to incentivize you to maximize the game. While MyTeam actually gets some shine, I was sort of hoping every other game mode did too.

In the end, you will still consider getting this game, and possibly go for the Mamba Edition if you’re dead set on the PlayStation 5. If you still love playing the game of basketball from the comfort of your home, it will surely bring you that. 

Gaming

Lenovo Legion Phone Duel price and availability in Malaysia

Pricing right around what you expected?

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Legion Phone Duel

They took their time, but Lenovo has bravely jumped into the mobile gaming market with the Legion Phone Duel. The phone is now making its way to Malaysia.

It’s powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragong 865 Plus SoC — the best in the business at the moment. It also comes with up to 16GB LPDRR5 RAM and a 512GB UFS 3.1 internal storage. It has a 6.65-inch AMOLED display with 144Hz refresh rate with a 240Hz sampling rate that should bode well for all your mobile gaming needs.

The Legion Phone Duel supports 90W Turbo Power Charging. This can take you from 0 to 50 percent in just 10 minutes and straight up to 100 percent in only half an hour. You can charge the phone on either USB-C ports. Yes, there are two. One in the usual bottom of the phone, the other on its side — a perfect spot for charging while you’re gaming.

Read our Lenovo Legion Phone Duel review for a more comprehensive look at the phone.

Pricing and availability

The Lenovo Legion Phone Duel comes in only two variants. Color, configuration, and pricing are as follows:

  • Blazing Blue (16GB+512GB) — MYR 3,999
  • Vengeance Red (12GB+256GB) — MYR 3,399

h/t: IGN SEA

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Features

How the Lenovo Legion 5Pi rekindled my love for games and arts

And helped me rediscover myself

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Lenovo Legion 5Pi

Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be? I was frantically searching for answers to this question, during my exasperating quarter-life crisis.

While I was losing hope waiting for directions, a monstrous laptop came to my house — the Lenovo Legion 5Pi. At first, I wondered how its arrival could mean anything in my situation. Surprisingly, having a gaming laptop helped me take the first step in dealing with my existential issues.

Traveling back to past

When I set up the Lenovo Legion 5Pi, I was taken back to my tranquil past. It felt like I was fourteen-going-fifteen again, cocooned in my bedroom.

Headphones in, keyboards lighting, chips and soda on the side, electric fan buzzing — life back then was untroubled. All I ever worry about was how to finish my homework so I could play online games all night.

At that time, I was stuck between two worlds: my character’s adventures in Grand Fantasia and other titles, and of course, the real world. But now, all I have is this sickening reality unraveling before me.

I’ve thought of playing games again, seeing the laptop as an opportunity to escape my current frustrations. But at some point, I realized escaping wouldn’t help me fix my issues nor provide answers.

What I did instead was sit in my emotions and used the laptop to navigate how I’m feeling — and possibly find out where I’m going next.

If you’re thinking if I went to Google to search for answers… you’re damn right, I didn’t.

Yes, I didn’t. I may be questioning my entire existence and the path I’m supposed to take while my friends are settling down and getting married, but I still believe I’m going to find the answers in a different way.

Honestly, my life felt like I was a character stuck on a puzzling quest. In between my thoughts, somehow it sunk in that maybe, this laptop was just what I needed.

Seeing and using the Legion 5Pi helped me remember how much I loved playing games. How I would spend my hours diving in different worlds, building and developing my character’s skills and personality — and even socializing with players across the world.

Games were my favorite escape

I’ve met several friends from all walks of life through gaming. Looking back, it gave me the advantage to power through this crisis.

I remember Paula, one of my online game BFF turned actual BFF for 10 years and counting. She taught me about going after my passion and what sparks joy in my heart. Surprisingly, I followed her advice until life got in the way.

Reminiscing, I logged into a dear, old game before I dropped gaming as part of my life — League of Legends, if you’re wondering. Previously, I was in my hellish college years; losing myself in depression, suffering from abuse, and other existential crisis I was facing.

Lenovo Legion 5Pi

But playing it this time around didn’t spark any pain from the past. Instead, I felt relieved clicking through the mouse and smashing buttons on the colorful keyboard. I was glued to the Legion 5Pi’s large screen, consumed by the stunning graphics and gameplay like I was living in the world I used to enjoy.

In this brief experience, I recalled who I really am before I decided to drop parts of myself  in order to fit in, to be accepted. Truth is, I really liked playing games. It has been my escape from the hell that life put me through. More importantly, it helped hone my skills and personality in life — something your education won’t usually provide.

Going back to making art

Recalling what my friend said about pursuing your passion, I realized how I wasn’t creating art anymore. I also remembered Gabriel, a mentor-slash-guildmate (who’s ten years older than me) that I really admired, especially with how he balances his life. Work, gaming, hobbies, relationships… and he even had the time to make art.

During my stint with the Lenovo Legion 5Pi, I enrolled in an online course to pursue some art classes I’ve been meaning to take for years.

I had fun learning through this gaming laptop, and I continued creating art both on this machine and on paper. It was an amusing experience to rediscover parts of myself. How I dropped arts and games to fit in and follow society’s mainstream culture; partying, feeding into wanderlust, crazing over trends.

Using the Lenovo Legion 5Pi reminded me to be true to myself. When the realizations hit me, I started building a stable ground for myself. I considered how I forgot to make my inner child happy — something that we should be doing no matter the age.

Older people used to nudge us to never forget the things that fill joy into your heart since it’s the key to living a happy life. In my case, it was always creating and playing.

Recollecting all these thoughts, I took the first step in dealing with my quarter-life crisis. Having a stable self can help you survive all these life problems, and it’s what I’m actively trying to do.

And maybe, I’ll get a gaming laptop like the Lenovo Legion 5Pi, so I can ensure I live a happy and balanced life, without forgetting who I really am.

Lenovo Legion 5Pi

The Lenovo Legion 5Pi is a competitive gaming laptop, carrying the latest Intel Core H-series processors. It focuses on extreme performance, sporting up to 32GB of RAM, 1TB of NVMe SSD, and an NVIDIA RTX 2060 for a powerful gaming experience.

Lenovo Legion 5Pi

It also comes with a 15-inch IPS HDR display with a 240Hz refresh rate for buttery-smooth gameplay. The display comes with 100% sRGB color accuracy, making it perfect for gamers, artists, and creators.

The Lenovo Legion 5Pi retails for PhP 74,995. It’s available in Lenovo’s official stores and authorized retailers.

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Deals

ASUS is bundling a PS5 with purchase of its ROG gaming monitor

Available only from October 16 to November 30

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ROG

Buying a new gaming monitor to upgrade your gaming setup? ASUS is throwing an irresistible offer for its ROG Swift gaming monitor from October 16 to November 30.

A purchase of ROG Swift PG65UQ during that time period will come with a free PlayStation 5. The bundled premium item not only includes the console but also includes a PlayStation gaming controller so gamers can get up to speed with their favorite games.

As for the monitor, buyers are in for a treat thanks to its large 65-inch 4K quantum dot display with a 144Hz refresh rate. Brightness is superb thanks to a maximum of 1,000 nits. Further, it is certified with DisplayHDR 1000. On top of it all, the monitor supports NVIDIA’s G-SYNC Ultimate and variable refresh rate for Xbox One.

Availability

Buyers will have to wait for their premium freebie though since the gaming console is yet to launch globally and arrive in the Philippines. On top of it all, the promo is on a first-come, first-serve basis.

This irresistible bundle is available at participating ASUS ROG stores nationwide. It is also available on authorized ROG dealers such as DataBlitz, i.Tech, and PCExpress.

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