Street Hoops Review
In the past few years, it has gotten more difficult to improve sports games in any category other than graphics, simply because the sports game genre has hit a wall. With the power of current console platforms, there is no aspect of a football or basketball game that cannot be replicated, which makes it harder for developers to create truly standout titles. EA managed to do this a while back with NBA Street, a game that gave pro level basketball a fresh look by giving the game a newer, cooler, "badder" attitude. Of course, the success of Street inevitably led to imitation by other developers, one of which is Activision and Black Op's newest title, Street Hoops. Street Hoops is an obvious and terrible rip off of NBA Street that should never have seen the light of day. One would think that, in a sports game, gameplay would be the most important factor. However, in Street Hoops, it almost seems like your ultimate goal is to create the most laced out, afro topped, gangsta' superstar, and it doesn't matter how they play, as long as they have 15lb gold chains swinging around their necks.
Street Hoops is all flash and no substance. Therefore, you would think that it would at least provide some decent visuals, since the most important part of the game is looking cool. However, Street Hoops is quite possibly the worst looking basketball game on the Playstation 2. Just like ESPN NBA 2Night 2002, Street Hoops seems more focused, from a visual standpoint, on background graphics. In other words, the court, baskets, and crowd are pretty much recognizable for what they are, while the actual players are little more than lumps of shoddy textures with a few polygons spread here and there. Worse still is that the poor graphics make what might have been the only enjoyable aspect of the game completely worthless. Who cares if you deck your players out in the coolest gear and clothes if everything on screen looks like garbage?
It seems that many basketball games today reward players for flashy play. Street Hoops also does this by paying good money for victory on the court. Money earned on court can then be used to deck out your players in the latest garb, such as spiffy threads from Rocawear and Pure Playaz, flashy chains, and ridiculously large afros. In fact, the premise of this game is so weak- win money, look cool, that Black Ops might as well have made this a fashion show game. Street Hoops does offer a wide variety of gameplay modes, such as the main Championship Mode, as well as varying levels of full and half court play. However, since the gameplay is so lethargic, so mundane, and so absolutely easy, it doesn't really matter. Basically, this game is the Street Fighter of basketball games- a button masher. Whether trying to juke, pass, steal, rebound, whatever, all players need to do is mash the corresponding button until the desired effect is achieved. There is some depth in this game, in that you can select certain flashy moves that work a bit differently than your standard actions. However, anyone taking the time to perfect these moves and how they work must either be clinically stupid or incredibly bored, because they all pretty much work the same way, and none of them are particularly necessary. In any mode, against almost any player, it is so rare to come into contact with an actual opponent that players may begin to wonder if they are competing via email. Therefore, does it really matter if you have a plethora of moves at your disposal?
With all the problems plaguing this game, they only get worse when you turn up the sound. It seems like all basketball games these days have super hip hop announcers, in an apparent attempt to give the game even more of that street style flavor that fans love. In Street Hoops, L.A. radio DJ Big Boy is on the horn, calling the play by play. Will Smith once challenged Big Boy, a 500lb funny man, to lose weight for charity; he should have taught him how to act. By far the worst play by play ever heard in a game, the only good thing about Big Boy's commentary is that it is often illegible. However, when you do catch what he is saying, it just might make you wonder if the person writing his scripts was a ball player from Harlem or a clerk from Activision's Accounts Payable Department. The dialogue in this game is so cheesy and pathetic that it must be phony, because it gives off the impression that modern day ball players are all cheesy, illiterate morons.
There are many other aspects that make up a game, such as replay value, control, etc. However, this game is so truly terrible that it gave me a splitting headache and I had to take 3 aspirin and lay down. Therefore, I will simply sum up the entire game with the following- people who purchase this game need to have their heads examined, and may God have mercy on the poor souls who actually find any redeeming qualities in this travesty of a game.
9/1/2002 Ryan Hartmann