Somersaults, barrel rolls and back-handsprings, all part of EA’s new Basketball game which is packed with the type of moves that five foot Chinese men in leotards usually perform. The game is NBA Street Homecourt and it is the first Street title to go next-gen.
The first thing that you will notice is quite simply how easy this game is to play. At first you won’t be able to pull-off that killer triple somersault trick, but you will still be able to score a fair few dunks and three pointers. As you get more experienced at playing the game you will figure out the more complex dunks and trick combos, then you’ll find yourself brushing past your opponents gliding through the air while making the actions of an AH64 Apache. The greatest selling point of the game is that even people who despise the game of NBA will find themselves enjoying this game.
The game itself has slightly deviated from what you would call the official game of Basketball. The main difference is that in NBA Street you only get six players (three vs. three) on the court at any one time. That in itself is a good thing as games seem a lot quicker; a lot more open and a lot easier to play. The scoring system differs as well - now you will only get a single point for Dunks and three pointers have been demoted to just two points. The lower points mean that games don’t go rocketing off into hundred point score lines and again the game seems a little bit more appealing to newer basketball players because of this.
Let us not forget the ‘Gamebreakers’. These are awarded to you once you reach a certain amount of skill points within a match. You can increase your tally by putting together multiple trick combos and this is where you can show the world your stuff. Some of the moves EA have come up with are creative to say the least. Also, two pointers and the various Dunks in the game will increase your trick score. Once you fill the bar to the top of the screen you will then see the middle of the court highlighted. It’s then simply a case of walking into centre court and pressing triangle.
You will then see a small cut scene with some pretty lights and the screen will go a dark shade of orange/purple. While in Gamebreaker mode you will find yourself pulling off impossible stunts and ridiculous dunks, but damn does it look good! The Gamebreakers can quite literally be your biggest weapon, but at the same time they can be your greatest downfall as in this new title the ball can be stolen in Gamebreaker mode and used against you.
Along with the new Gamebreakers also come updated Alley-Ops. Granted, they are somewhat unrealistic, but it still adds a degree of fun and amazement to the game. There’s also crouching dunks where your team-mate will crouch down and you use his back as a springboard to score yet another death defying basket. Let us not forget the double dunks, once you dunk it once you will sometimes notice your player using his feet to prop the ball up and score two baskets in succession. To add insult to injury you’ll even get two points if you can figure out how to pull off this other-world trick.
Despite all the trickery, the defence can halt the offences progress with a couple of their own moves. You can choose to be civil and go for the steal, or (like me) you’ll opt to simply push the opposing player into the ground, steal the ball and then proceed to make fun of the opponent on the floor while you dunk the ball. Also you will notice that those players who can defy gravity and perform unreal alley-ops at one end can also jump twenty odd yards to block any shots aimed at the other end of the court.
Enough with the trickery and onto the various game modes and this is one area where the game slightly suffers. In the Challenge mode you will make your very own Baller and take on the Basketball world in your bid for a very large pay check and your own aftershave called ‘Ballers Diamonds’. You must play in various courts and at first you will basically face nobodies, but as you slowly progress you will start to face the more experienced players like Shaq and his mate Kobe. The main reason to play the Homecourt mode is to boost your player’s stats and also to unlock new accessories like shoes, jeans and shirts. After a while even when you face slightly tougher opposition the game just feels repetitive, and gets a bit dull. The only remedy is to put the difficulty up a notch, but even on Hard the game still seems same old, same old after a good few hours of gaming.
When not playing Homecourt mode you can either go for Gamebreaker battle, where the aim game is to win gamebreaker points (No brainer!). Trick Battles will see you perform some of your snazziest moves in an attempt to fill your trick meter and then proceeding to score a basket. Finally there’s Back to Basics where there is no Gamebreakers and no trick meter for those who want to try the game without the flashy frills. There is of course Multiplayer and as previously said because this game is so easy to play the Multiplayer mode is extremely addictive. You’ll be arguing over who pulled of the sweetest dunk and you’ll be up until the wee hours of the morning online and offline trying to strut your stuff on the court.
Graphically this game does look extremely swish. The animated jerseys and shorts and the countless gravity-defying tricks all look sublime on the PS3. When the Gamebreaker kicks in you get a real close up of the various players and you’ll see every wrinkle, pimple and drop of sweat. The animation adds to this games graphical prowess and just finishes off a beautiful game. Audio wise you get the same R&B style soundtrack and the in-game just sound perfect. From the squelching ball as it hits the asphalt to the sound of cracking wood as you bend the hoop ninety degrees.
Overall the game looks gorgeous and it plays perfectly on the PS3. The unreal alley-ops and dunks are gob-smackingly good. The challenge mode can get repetitive after a while and the online mode is very bare which is annoying as they could have done so much more with NBA Street Homecourt. Saying that, single player and multiplayer games can get ridiculously addictive and you’ll be dreaming of double dunks and alley-ops for a long time.
Originally Written By: Lee Matthews