July 27, 2001
NBA Street - Review
Release Date Publisher Developer Players Rating RRP
29/6/2001Electronic ArtsEA Canada / NUFX1-2G$99.95
Online Gameplay Difficulty Save Size Vibration 60Hz 50Hz Border
NoVariable153 KBYesNoNone

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This is street basketball, ie rough.
One of the biggest disappointments on the Playstation 2 to date has to be the woeful NBA Hoopz from Midway. The game never managed to capture the speed and excitement associated with basketball and fans of the series were left wanting more. Step in Electronic Arts Canada. Following the success of SSX (under the EA Sports BIG label) there was much hope pinned on this basketball game. Early reports warned of some frame rate drops and a couple of minor bugs, but after playing this game for countless hours I can safely day that the final product is not only a good basketball sim, it's quite possibly one of the best ever.

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Facial expressions are impressive.
The first thing you notice upon booting up this game is the ultra-cool feel to it. From the music to the intro and speech everything just oozes cool, and the gameplay also embraces this philosophy. NBA Street is a 3-on-3 street basketball with all your favourite players, including Michael Jordan. There are some differences to regular games though. Firstly, the game is the first to score 21 with a 2 point advantage so you can't win with a 21-20 score line. It adds a lot of excitement when you are trading 2 point shots (scored from outside the 3-point line) to alternate the lead when over the 21 point winning score. Unlike NBA Hoopz however, the 6 players on court all seem to have a purpose and move around the key accordingly.

EA Sports also seem to have done the impossible with a perfect balance in the gameplay between offence and defence. As with most sports games the offence is a lot of fun. Performing a dunk, ally-oop or long range two-pointer is tremendous fun, especially in a tight match, but the defence is equally impressive. The game has seemingly increased the chance of blocking an opponents shot on goal, which makes you want to put the effort into the defence. Also the game doesn't have as many "sweet spots" on the court as others so it's impossible to keep pinging the ball from the same spot to continually score easy points.

If you enjoy this title you may also be interested in checking out SSX which was one of the launch titles, but is still in the charts, and deservedly so. This snowboarding game allows you to knock the opponents off. If you wait until November however EA are re-releasing the title with some upgrades and addition as SSX Tricky.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of NBA Street is the addition of the GameBreaker meter which is filled up by performing tricks during the game with each player. When the meter is filled up your next score will not only be added to your total, but the same number of points will be subtracted from your opponents score. As such, if you score a 2 pointer (which is actually outside the 3-point line) there will be a score difference increase of 4 points, enough to turn a game around. Importantly filling up the GameBreaker meter requires skill to judge when to perform tricks and risk losing the ball to the opposition.

While most sports games are best played with a couple of friends NBA Street is still tremendous fun as a single player game. Electronic Arts have hidden so many features (such as shoes, clothing and courts) to unlock that it will keep you busy for hours on end. As long as the game isn't set to the Easy mode it will offer quite a challenge with most games coning down to the last couple of points. You will almost never win by more then a couple of points, but the game isn't unfair in the way that NBA Hoopz suddenly has you missing every shot.

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Hmm is that Afro Thunder?.
While NBA Street is near perfect there are a couple of minor things that could have been improved prior to release. Firstly why in the hell didn't the developers include 4 or 6 player multi-tap support? The game would have been enormous fun with 5 friends around for a few games. I would also liked to have seen more variety in the courts available and an option for 2-on-2 games would have been an easy addition that could have added so much more longevity to the game.

Those of you who still doubt the power of the Playstation 2 need only look at this game. The graphics are silky smooth with some excellent lighting and texturing. The players are wonderfully animated, although there is the occasional stutter, and each has a range of moves that wouldn't be out of place in real life. The courts are detailed and the surrounds are equally animated with spectators and buildings etc.

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The lighting is quite impressive.
Sound isn't lacking either with some thumping bass during the background hip-hop music as well as some great speech from Joe "The Show" Jackson before, during and after the matches. Joe's commentary is actually very good with some humorous comments made during play but ones which are always relevant to the action on screen. Sound effects are good and have been enhanced for special moves during the game giving it that arcade type sound.

Whether or not you're a basketball fan there is much to like with this title. It's fast, it's impressive but most of all it's fun. Electronic Arts weren't just content with a 3-on-3-basketball game however and have added in some great features such as the trick button and the GameBreaker meter. There is a new king in the arcade styled basket ball game. Gone is the decade old NBA Jam games and in it's place is EA's awesome NBA Street. This game is one of the best sports titles in years and should be in ever PS2 owners' collection.

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