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PS2 Review - 'NBA Street V3'

by Hank on March 2, 2005 @ 1:42 a.m. PST

Featuring NBA legends, today's top stars, and original characters from past editions, NBA Street Vol 3 reaches new heights by making over-the-top, larger-than-life moves even bigger in this action-packed, arcade-style game. Customize your baller, build courts from the ground up, throw one down in an all-new dunk contest and go online to put your reputation to the test.

Genre: Sports
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Big
Release Date: February 8, 2005

Buy 'NBA STREET V3': Xbox | GameCube | PlayStation 2

With the growing popularity of Street Ball, it's no surprise that Electronic Arts has brought a third installment to the NBA Street series, but how does it fare against its competition NBA Ballers, or its predecessor NBA Street Vol. 2? Unfortunately, I have not had enough experience with NBA Ballers to give it a side-by-side comparison, but I have had time to hone my skills in NBA Street Vol. 2, so let's get the game on.

For those new to the series, NBA Street is a three-on-three basketball game where the players utilize all of their balling potential and embarrass the other team in style. In other words, juke the living daylights out of your opponent, roll on the ground, alley-oop to yourself, break some knees, or any move that is visibly amazing but almost physically impossible for an average person to pull off or see in a real NBA game. Just think of the Harlem Globe Trotters, and multiply their skill by 10 or more.

For those that have enjoyed NBA Street Vol. 2 and followed the Street series rather closely, there are several changes that you will notice. The biggest change in the game is the fact that NBA Street V3 finally allows for multiplayer three-on-three action so you have have three of your friends take on three more of your friends in a pick-up basketball match to see who can walk the walk and talk the talk, bringing out a whole slew of trash talking. The second thing you will notice is that the graphics have greatly improved; the courts look quite nice, and the character models are looking more realistic and less pixelated than before. You will also notice a few new modes added to the game: a Street Challenge story mode, where you play to become the street champ; a slam dunk contest which isn't nearly as good as NBA Live's; and finally, a way to play online.

Since not all PS2 owners have the network adapter, the main mode of play would be Street Challenge, in which you play through 70+ days to become the street champion. The first task at hand is to create your own personalized baller. There are several different configurations for your character, and if you want, you can try to make it look as similar to you; customizing the character takes quite a bit of loading time and effort, but it has its rewards. The facial features aren't nearly as important as how you customize your character, distributing your skill points into the type of baller you wish to create. If you want one with good handles and shots, you put a majority of your points on speed; one with good defense, you put it on steals and blocks; and if you just want an offensive player, you can put it on power and dunks. Once this action is completed, you can start your Street Challenge "season."

Unlike the NBA, these players are usually playing Street Ball for fun, not money so you don't have to follow a tight schedule, and you get to choose what type of game you want to play or which court you enjoy the most. The different types of games are: Street Rules, no gamebreakers, NBA Rules, Back to Basics game, Old School Scoring, dunks only, first to set trick points and lastly, Dunk Contests. At the end of every week during a season, you will get a morale update on your team, informing you how it feels. If the morale is poor, it usually means they want more playing time or want the ball more, which ends up being a big factor for the gamebreakers because they miss a whole lot more. In addition to these morale updates, there are special events that come up at given times, like tournaments.

The more wins you incur, the more rep you get, and also more SP points which you can spend on customizing your character or one of the other game options, like new clothing, shoes, or adding and managing your home court. You can even use these created courts for online play.

For online play, there are a few different modes essentially identical to the offline play: World Challenge, which is identical to Street Challenge but online with a created baller, and you play for rep points and SP; NBA Challenge, where you play with NBA teams and receive a rank for the win or loss; and lastly, exhibitions, a free game in which you pick any character, and nothing is lost or gained. All of the modes found on single player can also be found online, aside from the fact that you can only play against one other opponent, unlike Sega Sports' games, where you can somehow play eight players online.

In NBA Street V3, the trick moves are more elaborate to perform and consequently a lot easier to counter. The AI, on a "Legendary" skill setting, knows how to abuse this, especially when you are just starting your street career. Rather than the usual trick set implemented in Vol. 2, EA has slowly grown to love the right analog stick and has implemented trick execution based on it.

Mastering the directions on the analog stick alone will let you perform the basic level-one tricks, a hit of the turbo button and direction. For the highest, level-four tricks, four turbo buttons will need to be pressed. Each one of these tricks will be registered into your combo meter, showing what type of configuration you have hit. You can also customize your trick book, and it is ideal to choose the best tricks fit for your character. As time goes on, you can purchase these tricks with your SP and unlock them yourself; the more variety of tricks you have, the easier it is to score points, which will get you closer to earning that gamebreaker.

Unlike the previous installment, where there where two gamebreakers, NBA Street V3 only has one, which isn't a bad idea, but it could have been better. Essentially, a gamebreaker is just the dunk contest but inside a regular game, and now, the main focus is to get the entire team involved. While in the air, you should hit any combination of tricks you can think of until you either put it in yourself or another teammate prepares for an alley-oop to rack up more trick points. Unfortunately, there is no way to stop a dunk gamebreaker, but you can actually miss a gamebreaker dunk or three-point gamebreaker. I would have really loved if EA had placed in a gamebreaker counter or somehow have a way for you to interfere with the player's sequence and not just freeze in your little corner, waiting for the dunk to finish.

After EA's success with NBA Live 2005's dunk contest, they tried to implement it once again in NBA Street V3. Even though they say it was supposed to whip the socks off of Live's, the dunk contest isn't even near that level. Live's system was more intuitive and a lot more fun, while in Street's, it's just a simple flick of the button that requires no skill whatsoever. Sure, Street's version looks extremely cool, but Live's just gave more satisfaction.

The basic rules are the same: you have three attempts to score the best dunks against your other opponents, and the more style and craziness put into the dunk, the higher the score. You can also grab some props to use with your dunk, which can help your score slightly, but failing the dunk because of a prop can also really hurt your standings. Scoring goes from zero to 30, the minimum score for a failed attempt is seven points, and the AI rarely misses a dunk. To make this truly enjoyable, it needs to be revamped before it can achieve the same level of deserved hype as Live.

For some odd reason, the commentator seems to get worse and worse as the volumes go by. His commentary seems to hinder the game's excellence, and although a sports game without an announcer would be strange, EA really needs to work on this aspect in a;ll of their sports games. What makes up for this poor commentary is actually the soundtrack. You don't hear enough of it during the games, but during other portions like the loading sequence and when choosing the event, you will hear a great collection of R&B and rap songs that suits the game perfectly.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the review, the improved graphics are a great addition to this installment. The textures have greatly improved, and the interaction with the courts gives the game a much better feel. The basket has less of a stiff feel, and during a strong dunk, the basket will shake or even bend, depending on the type of rim/backboard you are playing on. The character models also seem to resemble the real life characters more and more.

With its Street Challenge mode, six-player ability, online play, and improved graphics, NBA Street V3 is a great package and worth every penny you spend on it. EA Big has not strayed from the series' original ideals, and just refined the existing system, a gesture most fans will appreciate. The system may have changed slightly from the previous installment, but after a game, the right analog stick becomes your best friend. With the ability to play with a total of six players, you can finally bust out this game when you have a bunch of friends over just chilling and relaxing. From what I've read, the PS2 version seems to be one of the better versions because it seems created specifically for the PS2 controller. We may not be getting Mario, Luigi, and Princess Peach, but we are getting the better game overall.

Score: 9.1/10

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