May 30, 2001
NBA Hoopz - Review
A decade ago Midway was a coin-op giant alongside Sega and Capcom, but times have changed. The company no longer makes numerous arcade games, but they live on in the homes thanks to the latest console technology. One of the most successful home ports was that of their NBA Jam series of games which first appeared on the SNES and Megadrive in the early 90's. As the years have progressed so has the series with the game now including 3D polygon players instead of the 2D sprites of the arcade game. There has been another big change with this Playstation 2 game, as it now includes 3-on-3 basketball instead of the 2-on-2 action of previous versions.
The addition of a third player on each team really adds a new dimension to the game. Gone is much of the fast paced action, and in comes a more traditional style of basketball game. This 3-on-3 action now allows you to select a guard, centre and forward on each team to achieve a perfect balance. Most other aspects of NBA Hoopz is similar to past Midway NBA Jam titles. The player on fire and team on fire meter's are still evident, as well as the humongous slams. As always the emphasis is on fast paced action, slam dunks and multi-player thrills and spills. The game starts out well enough with slick menus and plenty of options, but as soon as you have picked your team and hit the court the enjoyment evaporates very quickly.
Unfortunately, the biggest problem is that the addition of the third player does very little to enhance the gameplay, and in fact only serves to make the game more confusing while surrounding the key. NBA Hoopz only allows 4 human players at a time which is a shame considering the 8 player multi-tap capabilities of the Playstation 2. Sadly, the game also lacks any resemblance of computer AI for the CPU controlled players. At times they just seem to stand around and it takes them an eternity to learn your strategies when attacking. Scoring is mostly about finding your players "sweet spot" on the court and pinging away with an overly high success rate. The game usually turns into a 3-point shootout between the two teams. As with previous games in the series the computer uses a very annoying catch-up if it falls behind. No sooner do you get a lead in the game, then the computer slams several 3-pointers while your shots strangely begin to miss.
|The graphics look good when small.|
While the game is filled with options the big problem is the lack of speed. Even when playing with friends the game runs so slowly that it takes away all the excitement, even when using the 60Hz mode. Running from end of the court to the other seems to take a lot longer then it should. I could probably move my fat ass quicker then these so called "pros". Yet another useless addition to the game is the six mini-games including 2 Ball, Around the World, and 21 among others. Sadly these mini-games are rather pointless, and are only worth a quick glance at best. The developers would have been so much better off actually spending time developing the main game to an adequate standard.
It must be said that the graphics in NBA Hoopz are nothing short of disappointing. With the added power of the Playstation 2 I was hoping to see some wonderfully detailed players. Unfortunately the textures don't have any life, the faces look like they have been mutilated and if you were hoping for any facial animations, forget it. Fortunately the animation on the players is a little better, but the overall speed of the game runs far too slowly making the game seem like it's all in slow motion. The game also suffers from some awful collision detection. It won't be too long before you see players arms sticking straight through an opponents head or torso. Definitely not acceptable in a game these days.
|Ahh... the flaming dunk.|
Sadly, while you would expect plenty of cool sound effects and music in NBA Hoopz the game is actually very poor. The voices are extremely limited, the music is merely adequate and the sound effects are weak. Strangely there also seems to be some sound dropouts during the game. On several occasions while dunking the ball there wasn't a sound, but it could be heard in the replays. What's up with that?
This has been a fairly harsh review overall, and basketball fans and NBA Jam/Showtime fans may find some enjoyment from this game, but not for long. Compared to NBA Showtime on the Dreamcast this PS2 game is a total disappointment. Perhaps Midway should have just increased the resolution and graphical detail of earlier games instead of trying to mess with the game formula. As the old saying goes "if your onto a good thing, stick to it", something which Midway haven't done. Sadly, the games upgrades haven't worked, and have reduced NBA Hoopz to a dribbling mess equal to my high school teams 112-3 loss several years ago. This game is a shocker.
|The dunks and layups are quite good.|
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