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NBA Street (PS2) Review

Publisher: EA Sports

Background Info

EA Big has been a big hit, first with SSX, and now NBA Street. NBA Street is not just a basketball game in which the winner scores the most points. It is also your balling style. Players are rewarded gamebreaker points for moves done with the trick buttons as well as combos involving tricks. Games are played up to 21, 3-on-3, full court. Two-point shots count as 1 point and three-point shots count as 2 points. Only rule in the game is the shot clock. No fouls, tough street ball action.

Presentation/Graphics : 92
The game's graphics are nicely done. The quality of each of the 12 different courts and the courts' 3D backdrops in the game are well represented. Players are represented nicely.

The player animations are really well done. Lifelike and no major player collision problems at all. The GameBreaker cut scene is nicely done, showing 4 or 5 different angles of the GameBreaker shot. This gets a little tiresome after 50+ games though.

Overall, graphically, the game flows excellently. No delays during transitions in the game. Too bad there were no facial animations--that would have been sweet.

Presentation/Audio : 80
Joe Jackson is the voice behind the guy hollering the commentary in the game. As with most games, the commentary gets old after a while, but this commentary actually is varied a bit better than most games. With lines such as, "He got more airtime than a superhero" or "It's about looking good," the commentary is fresh enough to not make you want to turn off the commentary. Sound effects are adequately done. The squeaks and sounds of the players do the job.

Again, commentary can always be improved. Yeah yeah, this is an arcade game, but would be nice to have the commentary to comment on scoring runs or specific player taking over the game.

Interface/Options : 92
The menus in the game are clear and concise. The load time for the game is a bit slow but nothing too devastating. It also takes a little long for the game to do its check for the memory cards though. The controls in the game are easy to pick up. You got four turbo buttons, on offense, you got pass, shoot, trick while on defense you got steal, switch player, and block/rebound. Different tricks are performed with different combinations of trick and some other button(s).

User stats, such as: wins, losses, trick points, number of GameBreakers, and a few other stats are kept with your user profile.

City Circuit is definitely what keeps this game from getting old. The mode lets you pick a team you want to play with. You bring your team of NBA ballers as well as one of your created players and pick a team of three to ball with either NBA players or real street ballers on the playgrounds. You can also choose MJ himself to join your squad. Whenever you beat a team, you can pick-up any guy from the team you just beat, or you can choose to get development points.

The mode is set up sort of like a ladder with 6 regions. Most of the region has 5 or 6 NBA teams, with the exception of the first region, which only has the Grizzlies and Raptors. After you are done with one region, you face a team of EA created street ballers. Each team is led by a captain. The list includes Biggs, Bonnafire, Stretch, D.J. and a few others. Some of these guys got some real balling skills. As you move higher up the ladder, the games get a lot more challenging, no matter what team you are playing. The regions are separated by geographical locations rather than real NBA divisions. This is a good way to go but it feels kind of funny when the Bulls are a lot tougher than the Heat as a result of the Bulls being higher up on the ladder.

Hold the Court is also another sweet mode. Your buddy can get in on this mode unlike City Circuit where it's only one player. Your squad of ballers play other street ballers and try to achieve certain goals, such as winning streaks and achieve a set number of trick points. There are 12 courts to clear. After beating each court, you will receive some development points, most likely 15, and have a bunch of rewards.

The create a player feature allows you to edit your players' name, size, skills, and looks. You start off with 500 developmental points. If you want to make your guy tall and big, it will cost you in developmental points. Only setback is the create-a-player load time is really slow when it comes to adjusting your baller's body type, face, or anything to do with appearance. I made my guy to be a small forward/shooting guard type player. It is really helpful if your team has at least two guys who have a lot of power and can block shots. Not to say it's impossible to win without any shot blockers on your team but it will be a lot tougher.

Gameplay : 92
Fast and furious, two words that describe the gameplay. The gameplay and controls are tight. None of the other PS2 basketball games even come close to NBA Street when it comes to gameplay. You can actually feel the moves performed in the game. Movements are very realistic. Maybe EA can get rid of the arcade features of the gameplay and use this engine for NBA Live 2002.

NBA Street is basically an extreme basketball game with only a shot clock as the only rule in the game. Don't expect players to perform realistically. Meaning, you will see Reggie Miller rejecting shots and throwing down some monster dunks. However, players will still perform according to their ratings in the game. For instance, if you try some juke moves with Shaq, he will sadly fall down to the ground with the ball becoming free. This is a result of trying to perform a move that requires a good ball handler, which Shaq is not. Essentially, the game is about racking up the trick points on offense and trying to get alley-oop dunks, since those are the money trick points, and on defense, you should just try to hang out under the rim to block shots. Sounds easier than it actually is though.

Picking the team of three can require a little thinking. For me, picking one guy that is a shot blocker is a must. I usually go with two shot blockers and one shooter. This combo works pretty well as the shot blockers are usually dunkers as well. I don't suggest going with a small line-up as your guys will get tossed around like the 76ers in the NBA Finals.

There are all sorts of moves in this game, including over the shoulder dribbles and Iverson crossovers that will literally knock your opponent to the floor. This game is simply fun to play. Fast non-stop b-ball action. A nice break from the NBA Live 2001 and NBA 2K1 games. Nothing complicated. Do tricks, try to get more points as well as getting the ball into the basket. Don't be trying to do too many tricks as your turbo eventually runs down and so does the shot clock. A shot violation results in your GameBreaker meter going down maybe 1/5 or 1/6. That is very costly especially late in the game when you need that GameBreaker. Combos give your team a lot more points. Double alley-oops gives you generally at least 20,000 points. Those are a little harder to come by as it comes down to whether or not your teammates go up in the air after you go up for the jam. The Serve the Dinner dunk gives you at least 7,500 points, but can give you around 15,000 points if you throw in a fake right before you do that dunk.

Three-point shots become a lot harder to make as you move higher up the ladder in City Circuit. I suggest just racking up the GameBreaker points and then go for a three when you have the GameBreaker meter all the way up.

With all the praise, lets not overlook a few minor AI faults. Sometimes, during the scramble for rebounds, everyone will just stand there. This has happened maybe a few times out of the 50+ games I've played. Not too big but worth a mention. Also, during full court passes, players will wait for the ball to get there instead of going after it themselves. Just like in football, both the offensive and defensive player should break for the ball. Other than these two little things, I really didn't notice anything else.

Replay Value : 80
As mentioned before, the City Circuit and Hold Court are the two main modes. These two modes have kept me busy. I just finished the City Circuit at the medium difficulty level. My win percentage was around 55 to 60 percent. Pretty good competition from the computer, although they seem to cheat at times. Also, the create-a-player feature should keep you wanting to get some more development points for your baller so he can compete with all the b-ball ballers in the game.

Initially, my replay value score was higher than the score now. After playing this game for a short while, I decided to lower the score a bit. Keep in mind, I put in at least three or four hours' worth of gameplay a day for over a week. Still, even though this game is fun, it just doesn't have the replay value of a game with a franchise mode. Again, don't get me wrong, NBA Street is still a very enjoyable game to play.

Overall : 87
NBA Street creates a whole new genre within the basketball genre. Not only do you have to be able to play street ball, but you also have to be able to break some ankles and score with style, not just a wussy 15-foot jump shot, which likely would get rejected/goaltended in the game. Got to be able to take it to the hole and slam it in someone's face. It would have been nice to have the game support the multi-tap for a 3rd and 4th human player.

NBA Jam fans, this game will definitely fill the void left in your heart after that franchise slowly died out. Overall, very well thought out by EA in making this game fun and entertaining. NBA Street is definitely a must buy.

By: James C. 7/11/01

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