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June 22, 2003
NBA Street Vol. 2 - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
28/4/2003EA SportsEA Sports BIG1-4GMedium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
103KBDolby Pro Logic IIYesNoSmallNo

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The courts are very cool.
Electronic Arts’ BIG series was introduced early in the PS2’s lifetime, where they made the relatively free-roaming extreme snowboarding game SSX. Since then, EA BIG has been responsible for many ‘extreme’ games, from NBA Street and SSX Tricky to more recent titles like Freekstyle and Shox. The majority of these games have been hits; solid arcade-style titles with blood-pumping gameplay coupled with good multiplayer action and none of the BIG series is yet to flop completely on its face. The first NBA Street was EA BIG’s second title released, and set a high standard for arcade basketball games at the time (which wasn’t too hard given the demise of the NBA Jam series). Almost two years have passed since NBA Street was released, and its sequel NBA Street Vol. 2 has a big reputation to live up to. Fortunately, it betters the original game in just about every respect.

NBA Street Vol. 2 is more than just an arcade basketball game, like NBA Jam was back in the 16-bit era. Not only does the game have a fast-paced, easy to play and hard-to-master multiplayer mode (which is expected from any sports game today), but also has an extensive single-player mode, known as ‘Be a Legend’ mode.

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The slams are spectacular.
The ‘Be a Legend’ game mode puts you in the shoes of a custom-created baller, who starts out relatively unskilled in the slums in New York. From here you play numerous teams at either pick-up games (equivalent of an exhibition match in other sports games) or tournaments. Depending on how well you perform, you get experience points to use to increase the statistics of your baller, or to buy new shoes and singlets to make them look that much better on the court. Perform well enough consistently, and new courts and tournaments will be unlocked, where you can challenge newer and greater teams, some of which include current and old-school NBA greats (such as Clyde Drexler, ’85 Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain to name a few). But the tournament mode doesn’t stop there; to add variety to the games, some have set goals aside from the first-to-21 default matches of the game. Some matches have NBA style scoring (2-pointers and 3-pointers) instead of street style (1-pointers and 2-pointers), some games you can only score with dunks, and in some matches the score doesn’t matter; it’s about which team has more style! The numerous game modes add extra flair to the game, and as an added bonus they can all be replayed in multiplayer too.

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Oh look, it's Mike!
The other major game mode is NBA Challenge. This is structured similar to most basketball games where you select a current NBA team and duke it out against the best from the North, South, East and West regions. Each of the NBA players remains true to their appearance and playing style, which is quite a feat given the distorted proportions of the in-game graphics. Complete an entire conference, and you’ll not only be able to play ball against the NBA’s finest from that area (both past and present), but you’ll also be able to add them to your team in other game modes.

The controls and gameplay in NBA Street Vol. 2 are very similar to its predecessor’s; buttons are allocated for pass, shoot, steal and block, and the shoulder (L1, L2, R1 and R2) buttons are reserved as ‘turbo’ buttons. Using these shoulder buttons (in any combination) in conjunction with the pass, shoot, steal and block buttons results in a turbo move being pulled off, and adds to your gamebreaker meter. Combinations of turbo moves results in combos, which increase your gamebreaker meter more rapidly. So what’s the point of this gamebreaker meter? In a similar fashion to the first game, once it is full your team can pull off a ‘gamebreaker’, where a shot or dunk results in a Harlem-Globetrotters-style cut-scene, which is worth more points than normal (and also decreases the opponent’s score). However, in Vol. 2 you also have the option of ‘pocketing’ a gamebreaker, whereby your meter resets, and you have the chance to build it up again to perform a level 2 gamebreaker, which is extra speccy and worth even more points.

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Getting ready to block.
There isn’t too much wrong with NBA Street Vol. 2; it has taken all the good things from NBA Street and tweaked the gameplay as well as adding a heap of extras. Create-a-baller characters on separate memory cards cannot be challenged, unfortunately, because the game only uses the first memory card slot. There’s been two memory card slots on the Playstation, PSOne, and PS2 ever since I can remember, so it seems silly that games today still don’t use both; especially for a multiplayer-heavy game like this! Graphics and sound are hard to nitpick on too, though some of the celebratory post-goal animations end up clipping the crowd; but it doesn’t happen very often, and you have to be looking for it to spot it.

NBA Street Vol. 2 not only has smooth, fluid 3-on-3 action on screen without a hint of slowdown, but also has an abundance of little graphical touches that make it the visual feast that it is. The character models have high-polygon counts, are well animated with smooth animation transitions, and are shown off with the in-game instant replays. Having played this game for many, many hours, the replays are something that I still watch, given how great they look. The graphical presentation of the game overall is very professional, and the team at EA BIG deserves much credit here. Small things, like the miniature hand-held-camera grainy movie for each type of dunk and shot unlockable in the create-a-player just go to show how complete a visual feast this is. Even the menu interface is based on a slick cel-shaded flyby of city buildings, complete with cars on the street below!

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There are plenty of fancy moves.
Hip-hop beats and gangsta rap are the only tunes you’ll find in NBA Street Vol. 2, but fortunately they aren’t hardcore in-your-face tunes, and chances are that you’ll soon be humming along to them in no time. The in game commentary has shifted from Joe ‘The Show’ Jackson (as found in the first NBA Street) to Bobbito. Although Bobbito isn’t quite as rude and up-front as the commentary by Joe Jackson, it is definitely more varied and gives effective advice and comments during the course of each match.

NBA Street Vol. 2 is a well thought-about, well-executed sequel to an already popular and high-standard game, and deserves all the credit it can get. Single player is long and enjoyable, with almost too much to unlock; singlets, characters, shoes, stat points, courts, trophies, moves and more. Multiplayer is sheer bliss, and makes one wonder why on earth 4-player wasn’t included in the first NBA Street; EA BIG would be crazy to exclude it in a future NBA Street title. In a nutshell, this game is the NBA Jam for the new millennium, and is a must-play sports title; it’s going to be very interesting to see how the next NBA Jam incarnation compares to it later this year.

Review By: Chris Gobbett

GRAPHICSWell polished game visuals and menus as well.
SOUNDNice hip-hop and rap without being too in-your-face.
GAMEPLAYA tried-and-true control scheme made even better.
VALUEI couldn’t think of any more extras to include if I tried!.
OVERALLNBA Street Vol. 2 is a fantastic arcade basketball game, and easily the best on the PS2 to date. Addictive gameplay and a plethora of unlockables make this game definitely worth buying for single player, and the multiplayer game modes are reason enough to run out and invest in a multitap.

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