Developer: Black Ops Entertainment
Date: June 6, 2006
Man, sometimes a game just hits you right in the gut. I'm a fan of both Ubisoft and the And 1 property. Ubisoft tends to make some of my favorite games, and I've loved the And 1 mixtapes ever since I was in middle school. I'm certainly predisposed to like And 1 Streetball, so there must be something wrong with it if I'm not interested.
The problem, I think, is that And 1 Streetball is very, very mediocre. If you're going to do an arcade basketball title, you're competing against both the basic format set down by NBA Jam (and arguably Arch Rivals) years ago and the standards set down by EA's NBA Street. This means that you've got to be either very good or do something very new. And 1 Streetball does neither.
This is extremely obvious in the gameplay alone. You're given the standard street basketball options during gameplay. There are three levels of tricks, and a kind of unstoppable super move that you can perform once you fill a meter and gain Mics. Beyond that, this is just like every other basketball game you've played. You have the option of 1-on-1, 3-on-3, 5-on-5, and playing on a half or full court, but that's about where it stops. You're going to juke, spin, travel, and bounce balls off other people's foreheads, but you've done it all before, and in much smoother circumstances.
Once you do enough tricks, you can perform an Anklebreaker move to slow down and disable a defensive player. These result in a short stumbling and a chance to make a quick run to the basket. If you're caught in this, no matter what you were doing previously, the screen zooms in and shows your character stumbling. This, along with the Breakdown you get from earning Mics, is what lets you dominate the defense. However, you can still get these by just spamming tricks while you've got the ball, rather than actually doing moves so that you can score points. It's the cheap way of doing things, and it's a little too easy to do.
The animations between players for the tricks don't sync well. One move involves tossing the ball around the back of another player and picking it up on the other side. It's very cool, and it's quite useful for getting to the basket. One problem: If the other player is standing in the wrong position, your player will do the entire move in front of thin air, or worse, do the move and run directly into the defense. Players will skip and slide down the court when they do moves, too, which is a little jarring to see.
The other graphics aren't much better. The textures on the jerseys are low-resolution and muddy to the point of illegibility sometimes. The facial expressions are well done, but you're rarely close enough to notice them when you're playing. The video filter placed over the instant replays or Breakdowns are nice, but the grainy overlay and slow-mo don't really do anything to help the graphics.
The multiplayer is more or less equal to the single-player. Both sides are going to end up hampered by the slow-witted AI and the fact that the other players won't hesitate to get in your way at the worst possible time. Need to score a quick basket to win? You're better off shooting from a distance than going for a dunk.
There are a few nods to the old mixtapes in the game. In the single-player mode, you're out to make a name for yourself. As you progress through the tour, you can unlock five segments of "The Score," an exclusive mixtape. You can create characters and create new moves, as well.
Still, all of this is secondary to the fact that And 1 Streetball isn't very fun in the long run. The weak AI, easily abused trick moves, and lo-res graphics all add up to create a boring experience. The And 1 mixtapes stand for excellence in flashy basketball, so its videogame adaptations should do the same. It's a shame that this one only manages to be average.
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