The NBA Street series has replaced my old love of NBA Jam for some over the top NBA action. EA Sports Big has just released their latest version with NBA StreetHomecourt and while I haven’t had that much experience with the other versions, I had a fun time with the latest one.
In NBA Street Homecourt, you strive to become a streetball legend and putting your homecourt on the map by starting out as an obscure player. You create a character and define the playing style you like. If you’re into just jamming the ball down, pickLebron James or Kevin Garnett as your style. Want to shoot from long range and handle the rock like a pro? Select Steve Nash. Depending on the NBA persona you pattern your game to determines the stats your player starts out with and the levels it can upgrade as you progress.
The face of your player is determined by a few factors. You start out with a few pre-generated mugs to choose from. You can leave it at that but you can also add two NBA stars in the mix and through a triangle setup, you can morph your face this way. By moving the indicator closer to one of the three faces in the triangle, your look will be more aligned to that face. If you want you can create some really weird offspring of two stars merging the features of the two in some sort of Conan O’Brien like if they mated scenario. There's a good variety of default faces to choose from and you can fine tune it more with the NBA faces.
After you create your player you embark on taking on various challenges from various players. You’ll start out with no names but soon NBA players will start to appear on the court you are playing and you can see how well you match up with them. The game pits teams of 3 against each other in a full court game so you'll have to pick up two players to be on your team. The games have different parameters to win such as only dunks allowed or a team has to be up by a certain number of points. Because you can't win all the games the same way, it forces you to build a well rounded team so that you will have strengths in each type of game. The most obvious choice would be to have one great shooter who can handle the ball, one great dunker, and one great defender.
You'll play the various challenges at some homecourts of some of the NBA players. You'll even get some back stories on some of the players as you progress through the game. Seeing the different homecourts of some of the NBA players can be entertaining as you see what some of the greats consider home and where they started out.
As you go through the challenges your player will build up stats in various categories. Dunk a lot during a game and watch your dunking skill grow. Put some moves on others and your handles skill will increase. It's a nice way to build your player and you can focus on a few aspects of the game if you want to really increase your skills in a certain area. Some of the challenges offer extra experience as well for completing a secondary task like grabbing three rebounds or getting five steals. Two times during the course ofHomecourt Challenge, you'll be able to max out a skill. This is a great chance to give your player 100 in their lowest categories. As you increase your skill level, the certain aspect of the game becomes easier. With a max skill in shooting you can rainbow threes in all day. A high level blocker won't just block shots but they will take the ball out of the air.
The different games give you various amount of experience points and also allow you to win some Jordan equipment. Some of the equipment when worn will add X number of experience on top of what the challenge has to offer so you can build up your character more quickly when sporting Jordan fashion.
Action in this game is typical NBA Street style with players jumping 10 feet above the rims and insane moves. If you watched streetball on TV, you'll see some of the moves here where you're allowed to double dribble as long as you're performing a maneuver. The dunks are really fun to watch but can get repetitive. It doesn't seem like there are any variations on dunks unless you use the modifier buttons and even then the same button will produce the same dunk. Don't look for anything remotely realistic though except for the jump shots as there will be plenty of players flying around looking for alley oops and performing sick dunks.
Oh, there are no rules except for the shot clock. You can bump, shove, goal tend, and abuse the opposition. This can make the game a little frustrating for either side on games that are just shots only when you have defenders that can just man the paint and take the ball out of the air when you shoot it. At least in NBA Jam there was a gold tending rule that helped balance the game a little but there's none to be found on NBA StreetHomecourt. Players like Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett can really dominate with these lack of rules so it's no surprising that when I recruited them on my team we practically became unbeatable.
Scoring isn't just confined to one points on slams and two points on three point shots. When you pull up for a dunk a meter goes up. If you hold on the button too long you'll miss the dunk pretty badly. But, if you time it just right and release the shoot button at the maximum meter level, you'll pull off a vicious double slam whereby the ball gets thrown down the hoop, caught or kicked in the air, and thrown down again for two points. It givesdunkers a chance to score big and equalize the amount of points they can score compared to a top notch outside shooter.
Gamebreakers are a big part of the game and you can alter the moves you are doing by the two bumper buttons. When you fill up the gamebreaker meter and hit the Y button in the circle indicated you'll have the rest of the time in your possession to perform streetball maneuvers to build up a score meter. You can score 1-5 points depending on how much of the meter is filled and if you produce a 2 point score. Coupled with the fact that any gamebreaker causes your opponent to lose one point, you can perform a big six point swing to bring yourself from being blown out to right back into the game. It is pretty exhilarating to pull off a six point swing and can really affect a game.
You also have to make sure you keep your teammates happy otherwise you can have some conflicts on your hand to deal with. Even if you drop a player they can sometimes come back to play harder against you as they will hold a grudge.
When you do impress NBA stars by winning challenges, you'll have the opportunity to play some tournaments. You'll be put into a single elimination, 3 round bracket and you use these tournament wins to advance your status as a legend on the court.
The game can be really fun to play if you're into over the top basketball. The action can be fast and furious with games lasting 10+ minutes to games lasting a few seconds. When you have a scenario where a team has to be up by 3 to win and a 2 point play, steal, and a game winning shot is possible you tend to be pretty active in doing anything possible to score or prevent the other person from scoring in these types of games. The different game parameters adds some nice variety into theHomecourt Challenge as you're not going to be focusing on one way to win all the time.
Frustration can set it with the computer AI. For the most part they play well and will give you a good game either straight up or by roughing you over. I've found a few too many times though where I would knock the ball away and my teammate would just stand there as the ball would bounce next to him only to have the opposing team grab the offensive rebound. You'll also get some of those computer "leveling" experiences where nothing goes right in a short span and the computer just makes a run with you being helpless. Overall though, the AI offers up a good challenge and your teammates do a good job on both the offense and defensive end.
The graphics have a nice look and style with the models of the players looking pretty good. They're not going to be physically accurate of course as players such asZydrunas Ilgauskas has too much of a build and Zach Randolph looks like the beginnings of Fat Shawn Kemp. The animations are pretty sweet especially with the various dunks that are in the game. It's too bad that there aren't a more variety of dunks when you're not using the modifiers though and even with the modifiers I would've liked to see a few more variations in slams.
EA's NBA Street Homecourt will give basketball fans a nice break from the simulation style games. The gamebreaker feature ensures that every game, no matter what the score, can become competitive and the graphics are pretty nice. Building up your player to be a streetball legend is pretty fun as well giving you a little RPG element to a sports game. While it's not a very deep game, NBA Street Homecourt offers good fun with a few people sitting in front of the console.
Building up your character and playing the various challenges can be fun. There are plenty of game modes and online play to keep you busy. Some of the animations can be repetitive and the AI can frustrate you sometimes.