Review: NBA Street. Vol 2
Posted 23 Jul 2003 at 21:20 by Bas Oosterveld
Basketball has never been really big in Europe. On most basket courts in my neighbourhood there is not a single soul to be seen. And if there are any people, they're certainly not shooting hoops. Still EA decided to bring NBA Street Vol. 2 to the European market. After all, other American sports games do pretty well here, including their own NBA Live series. Its blockbuster predecessor never hit the stores in Europe, is there any reason why the sequel should?
We'll start of with the visuals; backgrounds and players look sharp, bright, have lots of details and a somewhat cell shaded veil surrounds them, finished with a twist of funk. The character models have some smooth and cool looking animations, especially when they celebrate a good score or victory. I was pleased to see that the guys of EA did the faces right. This time Kobe Bryant looks like Kobe Bryant, instead of an average modulated 'Afro-American'. For the backgrounds EA took a realistic approach, this because they used authentic playgrounds. From the projects of New York to LA College, they are all basketball courts that exist in real life.
Basketball and hip-hop goes hand in hand like honey and bee and NBA Street Vol. 2 is no exception. The soundtrack is what you expect, gangsta rap, smooth R&B and funky tunes.What could surprise you is the enthusiastic, colourful commentary of DJ Cucumberslice, in real life a New York radio DJ, who also gives commentary on street hoop games. His exaggerating speech is a love it or hate it thing. But if you are a little annoyed by it, all you have to do is set the speech volume to zero.
Loads of special effects have been implemented to emphasize the movement of your character, standard tricks in arcade sport games. Nice background sounds like rolling cars or a mobile phone of the local dealer that goes off while he's enjoying a game truly gives you street spirit.
What separates this game from the average basketball game you say? Well to start you play 3 on 3, there are no rules regarding fouls, goaltending, out of bounds etc. Secondly, your objective is to win the game with your team, but the way to win is by doing spectacular dribbles, passes and slam dunks. This will earn you points that fills up you special gamebreaker meter. The gamebreaker is the key feature in NBA Street Vol. 2 and has two levels. Once the first level meter is full you can use it by pressing both shoulder buttons. Or you can use your D-pad to store the points and try to fill the level 2 meter. Using a gamebreaker allows you to score points and at the same time decrease your opponents score. You can also decrease the opponent's gamebreaker meter once yours is full.
If you're new to the game there is a handy training course you can follow, which explains all available moves. After that it becomes a good reference of how you execute certain tricks. With the 'NBA challenge' you can pick your favourite team and become NBA Street champions.
As expected, there is a multiplayer mode which speaks for itself. Play with or against other people. And last but not least there is the 'Be a legend' mode. With this mode you can take your own created player, choose two team mates and write history on the street courts. Each time you play a game you earn developers points. With these points you can upgrade your player's attributes, clothing and moves. The options in the creation of your own player are a little disappointing; there aren't a lot of choices when it comes to altering the face or having that cool Rasheed Wallace tattoo on your arm. A small comfort is that you can edit your trick moves or dunks at any time, which prevents you from getting bored with your superstar creation. About halfway your rise to stardom DJ Cucumberslice will come up with a catchy nickname for you. The name will depend on how you have spent your points on your attributes and how you hit baskets during games. It's a clever detail having your name called during matches; it feels like you're more part of the game. You're no longer that custom made player with the number on his back. Slowly you'll become a living legend.
Handling your player can be a little tricky while performing some special tricks. The basic moves are simple to learn, but when it comes to using those three shoulder buttons for trick combos, it doesn't go very smooth. I hate to admit it, but the controller design is at fault here. It just isn't as intuitive as it could be which is a pithy, because the body of the controller fits like a glove in your hands. However with a little practice you should have no problem to overcome this little flaw.
There is enough replay value with the single player as well as the multiplayer. The 'Be a legend' mode should keep you busy for at least 20 hours. With the earned points you will be able to unlock various things like player cards, jerseys and moves. Multiplayer gives you infinite fun if you have some friends over, a perfect game where you can dish your mates and make gallery plays which will knock them of their feet.
NBA Street Vol. 2 is easily the best basketball game out there for the cube and has enough features to last for a long time. If you sincerely hate basketball, or any sports game for that matter, this game might just convince you otherwise. Try it and enjoy the sheer, pure arcade fun that this game has to offer.
N-Europe Final Verdict
Superb for hoop fans, fun for the casual gamer.
Small upgrade of the first game