NBA Street Review
NBA Jam, NBA Jam T.E., NBA Showtime, NFL Blitz, NFL Blitz 2000, my god what have you done Midway? Sparking a trend of loosening the screw in sports games, Midway's NBA Jam paved the way for all 'extreme' ball games. Even though the series was quickly worn out, the original two are still enjoyable pieces of 16-bit gaming, but everything forth was terrible, including the recently released "Hoopz." Taking an extraordinary gamble on a genre that is supposed to be never opened once more, NuFX and the SSX crew over at EA BIG decided to create their very own fine formula for an all new ball game. EA would call it NBA Street, this game promised it wouldn't be anything like other 'extreme' ball games such as the Jam series and its various spin-offs. Taking cue from its very first production, SSX, EA BIG hopes to capitalize and change the way we all play b-ball sims once more. How well did it work? In a word..."very well". Okay that's two words, sue me!
Being somewhat disappointed in NBA Live 2001's visuals, I wasn't expecting much glamour from Street, that is until I had experienced the game first-hand on my PS2. Noticing far more attractive athletic detail than NBA Live 2001, it's obvious that a lot more time went into NBA Street's athletes rather than NBA Live's. For starters, every [NBA] ball-player in Street features the exact same physical characteristics as his real-life counterpart does. It's astounding, and yet very surprising, that an arcade game's character detail is represented more accurately than a sim game. Quite shocking, but true. Establishing the fact that all of the NBA players feature a look of authenticity and resemble their actual counterparts, let's move forth on background detail and motion-capturing.
We've all seen those 'Nike-Basketball' TV ads where a bunch of NBA players like Jason Williams, Rasheed Wallace and Vince Carter are doing some jaw-dropping tricks with a basketball. Would you believe that the level of detail in those commercials is almost the level of detail that NBA Street features in its tricks? Believe it or not, the tricks in NBA Street flow just as smoothly and realistically as those in the TV ad. The Slip n' Slide is by far one of the most impressive moves in the game. This is where the player would dribble the ball, while taking a roll on the ground and then getting up. We've got a few screens of that particular move in the screenshot index, give it a look. On top of amazing motion-captured, comes excellent background detail. There are around a dozen stages to choose from, all with their individual setting, be it urban or rural, this game's got it. Since you're playing outside on the street, there will be weather as well. Rain and snow will be the only two conditions, but they don't affect the way the game plays. Overall, excellent visual package. EA BIG has struck gold with SSX and now NBA Street.
NBA Street's gameplay is far more than just dunk, dunk and dunk. The game's surprisingly deep. Much like SSX, in Street you are able to do moves or combos and get points for them. The more points you get the more your 'GameBreaker' bar will fill up. When you get a "GameBreaker" you hold two of the shoulder buttons and shoot the ball, from no matter where you stand your shot will choke the net, that is unless it's blocked. Now speaking of blocks, in NBA Street a goal-tend is a block. You think that that sucks, but it really doesn't. Goaltending shots in Street is pretty hard, it won't happen much because you will have to jump at the exact point of the balls direction of flow. Aside from that, the AI will rarely goaltend the ball, they'll do it more frequently on the Mad-Game difficulty, but rarely on other difficulties. On a different note, NBA Street won't allow you to intentionally push somebody, but make no mistakes about it, there will be a lot of tripping and falling going on, albeit the presence of referees is absent, therefore no rules! Players can run around anywhere on the court, the out of bounds area is off limits, so nobody accidentally dribbles out. Although if the ball is slapped, during a block, hard enough, it will go out of bounds. Enough about the rules of Street, how does the game actually play?
Street's action is livelier and fresher than NBA Jam's. Yes at times the players do fly high, but only during an Alley-Oop, and there are many of those. The dunks are nowhere near as outrageous as those in Midway's game, albeit their execution maintains to be stylized and very awe-inspired. Street is a guy's kind of game (no discrimination to women), there's talk during the gameplay, and those pretty dunks will certainly excite you a lot. If you're playing with a bud, you'll be jumping around in awe, right after you pull-off a triple combo where you do a Slip n' Slide, then jump for a dunk, but instead finish it with a dish to an alley-oop! Something like that could rake an upwards of 20,000 points! NBA Street doesn't feature any power-ups like hotspots, earthquakes or juice. What Street has to offer is an awesome 3-on-3 arcade experience that will addict any gamer for months as soon as he lays his hand on the game. And you know what's the best part about NBA Street? Michael Jordan is selectable from the start, you can use him on any team of your choice, during the Career mode. But Jordan is really there for help, although I use him throughout the whole career. As you progress through your journey, for every team you defeat, you will be asked to draft one player from that team into yours. So by the end of the game your Philadelphia 76ers will have not only Jordan playing for it, but various other NBA stars, maybe even a custom player and street players whose teams you've defeated. NBA Street is filled with joy and excitement, this is quite an adrenaline rusher, and is best when played with a bud (would've been better if played with 4). NBA Street is a must-have pick up for all of you sports fans out there.
NBA Live 2001 pretty much had average commentary, where in areas EA BIG's SSX had awesome commentary! So it would make perfect sense that the SSX production crew would come through with sweet commentary done by what sounds like Snapper Jones' voice. The commentary is fresh, from time to time it will be repetitive but for reasons beyond my comprehension, I just don't mind, because the things said by the commentator aren't very annoying. During the game, players will interact with one another by talking a little smack, which most often occurs during a blocked or stolen shot. There's a soundtrack in Street as well, I have very minimal recollection of it, so the only thing to guess is that the tracks are hidden behind the gameplay noise such as the commentator, and the loud dunks. As for the controls...
She controls well sir, she controls well indeed. NuFX has done a splendid job of creating a well moving game with controls that are very flexible and almost anybody who touches this game will be thrown into its grip. Moving the players is done with the analog stick, the face buttons are your shoot, pass, trick and post up buttons. The shoulder buttons are your turbo buttons, which will also assist you in pulling-off more tricks, when one of the shoulder buttons is combined with the default trick button (Square). The controls are very friendly, nobody should have a hard time getting adjusted, the dual shock is also very fierce which is another big plus.
Great visuals, and excellent gameplay, NBA Street is the recipe for the best basketball game to date. NBA 2K1, NBA Live 2001, bah! None of them hold up to NBA Street. Despite it being an arcade-based title, this baby is by far the most accurate representation of the sport in terms of finesse and movement, all thanks to the amazing motion capturing. NBA Street is another game that you have to shell out 50 bucks for, first it was Twisted Metal now it's Street. This is a highly recommended purchase, as many other PS2 games such as Red Faction, Dark Cloud and Twisted Metal: Black have become. NBA Street also makes a great 2-player game, invite a friend over for a game 21 with teams of 3. Street's got it all!
7/2/2001 Arnold Katayev