NBA Street Vol. 2 (GameCube) review
"This isn't a basketball sim, the players don't behave like real players. Shaq will hit the occasional shot from behind the arc, little Allen Iverson will throw down 360 dunks. Just about any player in the game will hit a mid range jumper with at least 80% accuracy, so getting points on the board is pretty simple"
Once upon a time, way back in 1989, there was an arcade game called Arch Rivals. As far as my memory is concerned it was the first game to pioneer a sports sub genre where rules don't matter - it was a two on two basketball game in which you could punch your opponents, or even yank their shorts down, if you so chose. A fine game, which I still play today on my NES. A few years went by, then a bomb called NBA Jam dropped. Arcade-style sports titles have been popular ever since.
NBA Street Vol. 2 is the newest title in the line of arcade-style basketball games, and it's also the best. It contains most of the elements that made it's predecessors popular while expanding on the formula to deliver a more entertaining experience. The basic premise of the game is simple - three on three basketball, first team to 21 points wins, and you gotta win by two. You construct a team from a pool of NBA players old and new, or ''street ballers''. Personally, I don't give a crap about the street ballers, never heard of any of 'em. If you want, you can make your own goofy little custom player and put him on your team. You then take your team and either attempt to beat all of the NBA teams in NBA Challenge mode or take on a bunch of no-name players in Be A Legend street mode in order to earn respect in the ghetto.
This isn't a basketball sim, the players don't behave like real players. Shaq will hit the occasional shot from behind the arc, little Allen Iverson will throw down 360 dunks. Just about any player in the game will hit a mid range jumper with at least 80% accuracy, so getting points on the board is pretty simple. Winning is more a matter of scoring quickly while taking points away from your opponent.
Yes, you can take points away from your opponent. Basically it works like this: anything you do in the game gets you a certain amount of Trick Points (TP). Basic stuff like hitting a jumper, blocking a shot, giving an assist, or stealing the ball will earn you a small amount of TP, but in order to really rack up the TPs you need to string together some combos. Your main tool for combo-ing is trick moves, spiffy lookin' ball-handling tricks you do on offense that are executed simply by pressing down a couple of buttons simultaneously. Trick moves are basically your link moves, the bread and butter of all combos, and if done correctly they'll knock the guy guarding you onto the pavement.
A bar at the top of the screen gauges your TP, and when you fill it up you're rewarded with a Gamebreaker - a special shot/dunk that not only raises your point total but lowers your opponents. If you're feeling really tricky, when you obtain your Gamebreaker you can ''pocket'' it. If you can manage to get another Gamebreaker while you have one pocketed you get the ultimate move - a Gamebreaker 2. Gamebreaker 2's are super-spectacular looking affairs involving all three members of your team which raises your points and lowers your opponents points more than a regular Gamebreaker.
It's simple to just run down the court and shoot an easy jumpshot every time. You can score that way. However, the more aggressive player that utilizes trick moves and Gamebreakers will always come out on top. That's part of the beauty of Vol. 2 - it's very accessible to anybody. A person who hasn't ever played a basketball game will be able to shoot and dunk proficiently, mash a couple buttons to pull off the occasional trick move, win some games against the CPU, and have some fun. Someone looking to go deeper into it will be able to spend a good amount of time learning strategy and the nuances of the combo system.
Vol. 2 isn't outstanding visually or...audio-ly. The courts look good but the players suffer from Kakuto Chojin syndrome - their skin has a shiny plastic sheen to it. Some of the player animations can look pretty crappy as well, but the game doesn't hurt to look at, that's all that matters. However, some of the music hurts to listen to. Benzino's ''Rock The Party'' comes to mind. The soundtrack is comprised of a (small) handful of hip-hop tunes, some of which are decent, most of which are pretty boring. A bigger, better soundtrack would've been much appreciated. The games are called by some mexican-sounding dude named Bobbito who apparently is/was part of some famous hip-hop radio show. That's cool and all, but I found his commentary to be pretty annoying. Better than most sports game commentators, yet still bothersome. Fortunately, he can be muted.
As a single player game Vol. 2 isn't that great. CPU opponents always seem to play with the same style and become boring rather quickly. As a multiplayer game, Vol. 2 can't be beat. Get four guys together on this and you're guaranteed to have hours of fun. Did I just say hours of fun? Heh.... It's true though, seriously. It just sucks you in, it's fun and addictive as hell. You'll get a ton of playtime out of this game if you've got people around to hoop it up with. You'll also want to spend some time unlocking all the stuff there is to unlock, including new courts and NBA Legends. You can unlock the ''Street Legends'' if you want, but they're lame.
Vol. 2 is a must-have multiplayer game. The only people who shouldn't purchase it are people who own the first game in the series - the sequel doesn't do much that the first game doesn't. If you don't own either of them yet, don't pounce on a budget-priced copy of NBA Street, go with Vol. 2 - it's definitely the superior version with all the classic NBA players, more courts, and level 2 Gamebreakers which add another level of strategy to the experience. Tearing it up with old NBA dudes like 1985 era Michael Jordan just can't be beat. As long as you have at least one friend go buy NBA Street Vol. 2 right now.
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