NBA Street Homecourt is EA’s latest addition to their Street franchise. For those who have not played any of the Street games before, they are basically sports games which focus more on skill, street play and basic rules.

There are a number of different game modes. The main career is called Homecourt Challenge and this is the bulk of the game. In the Homecourt Challenge you make your own player and recruit two others to join you. Throughout the Homecourt Challenge new players will come along that you can recruit – each having their individual strengths and weaknesses. When you start the Homecourt challenge you also get to choose what kind of playing style you are which will give you certain strengths and weaknesses depending on what you choose and will also cap you on certain abilities (e.g. a defender couldn’t get full attributes for shooting). In addition to players you also unlock new clothing which help you to level up through the ranks. Levelling up unlocks new tournaments, players to recruit and new challenges. One of the main problems with the game is the lack of variation amongst challenges. Challenges consist of usually getting X amount of points in X game, score 30 points in a dunks only game for example. This remains fun for the first 10 levels or so but gets repetitive very quickly and over all there isn’t a lot there to make you want to actually complete the Homecourt challenge mode apart from the achievements.

The game flows very well and as it’s a street game it’s all about looking stylish and show boating. You have two main buttons to do tricks, which are Y and X. You have a trick meter which will gradually build up when you score and trick more. Once the meter is full it allows you to go into Gamebreaker mode. Gamebreaker mode allows you to do even more stylish tricks and the more you do the more points you can get when you score. The more you do certain moves (blocking, passing, shooting, dunking etc) the more attribute points get added on at the end of each game. You don’t have a choice about where you place your attribute points so you really need to be a good all-round player and practice all of the different skills to make your player the best. The tricks certainly look good but really the whole system is quite automated and too simple. You don’t have much control over what tricks you are doing and there really isn’t that much variety in the tricks at all.

A much welcomed addition to the new NBA Street Homecourt is the double dunk. This a dunk that gets you two points (instead of just one). To do this you must hold down a dunk to the maximum amount of points on the bar that pops up – this must be very well timed as going over the bar will make you mess the dunk up completely. The higher your dunking attribute is, the easier you will find this skill.

A slightly confusing aspect of the game is the scoring system. Instead of the conventional 1 or 3 points it uses 1 point for a close range shot, 2 points for a long range shot or double dunk 3 points for when you do some nice moves in Gamebreaker mode. This doesn’t retract anything from the game but it just seems like an odd decision to make the scoring non-standard.

Personally I have always found stealing the ball and defending in basketball games rather difficult. NBA Street Homecourt has a very easy system for stealing the ball (both X and Y do this) and blocking shots is easy if you have the right player with high defensive attributes. This makes it a good game for people who like a more non-serious arcade approach to sports games. The biggest flaw I found with the defence system was that it is very hard to intercept a pass, so most of the defensive work is done by stealing the ball off of the opposing player at a short distance away or blocking a shot.

The overall presentation of NBA Street Homecourt is absolutely superb. Whilst the graphics aren’t the best you will have seen, they are very nicely polished and it truly does look like a next-gen title. The cut scenes are some of the best you are likely to have seen on the 360 so far. The game takes you to a variety of different courts and all of them look fairly unique and have a nice, almost cartoon, style to them. One of the most enjoyable parts of NBA Street Homecourt is the sound track and sound effects the game has. You will often hear jingles of old songs by groups such as the Jackson 5 and it really does work very well. Before I had played the game my perception was that it was going to try and have a very gangster image in a similar fashion to Saints Row, but this is far from the case and EA should really be commended on their choice of sound track. Sounds effects are also absolutely spot on which along with the nice graphical style of the game makes the game have a very pleasant atmosphere which is rare for a sports title.

The main strength with the Street games has always been its pick up and play multiplayer – and this one is no different. Playing with friends is great fun and although there are only a few game modes, the pickup game should be all you need to have a fantastic time. Games can often be very close and making even one mistake or missing a steal could cost you the game. Whilst there are only limited Xbox Live modes, it doesn’t disappoint. Games tend to be very intense with some good banter from the opposition. I have also yet to experience any lag which is very important for a sports title.

As you could probably have guessed (this being an EA game), the achievements aren’t very difficult at all. Most achievements are picked up naturally so you never really have to go out of your way to get them. There is however one achievement that may frustrate you when trying to get the 1000GS and that’s win 10 games in a row online. This is definitely no easy challenge and should take most gamers a fair amount of time to achieve.

Overall this is a very solid title from EA. Whilst the single player might not keep you entertained for more than 6 – 8 hours, the multiplayer aspect of the game certainly will. Even if you are not a basketball fan, I recommend you try this game. The pickup and play arcade style of the game make it suitable for anyone. If EA can make the rest of their Street franchise games as good as this then they’re on for a winner!

Originally Written By: Joe

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