NBA Street V3 Review

Developer: EA Sports Publisher: EA Sports
Release Date: February 8, 2005 Also On: GCN, PS2, and Xbox

EA Sports BIG really took off with NBA Street, which released in 2001 on the PlayStation 2. The high-flying dunks and crazy Gamebreakers were a tip of the hat to Midway’s classic NBA Jam series. Now, after an amazing second entry to the series, EA Sports BIG has fine-tuned the mechanics of a third Street, and NBA Street V3 is simply the best of the bunch.

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In V3, the gameplay has remained largely the same with a few new additions. The dunks are still insane, the tricks and fakes are still jaw-dropping, and it is all played under a hip-hop inspired roof, like always. But there are some changes that make a whole lot of difference. First of all, the on-court action seems much more paced, rather than the lighting speed of Street Volume 2. It seemed like alley-oops passes were the easiest way to go in Volume 2. Now, with V3, things are a little slower and tighter. Not only does this make defense possible, but it lets you absorb what is going on around you to actually have some sense of strategy to each possession, rather than a fast-break dunk or an alley-oop each time down the court. This isn’t as drastic as the other change, however.

Gamebreakers are now completely interactive. Once you fill your Trick Point meter (by doing tricks and fancy dunks), you can pull off a Gamebreaker, which will give you multiple points, hundreds of thousands of Trick Points, and will even subtract points from your opponent. Once you initiate the Gamebreaker, your character will rocket into the sky, giving you time to pull off a few moves or even pass the ball to another airborne teammate for more points and an even bigger slam. Rather than have a cinematic Gamebreaker (like before) or even Gamebreaker 2’s, V3 has you take this approach to give the game a much more personal feel.

The Gamebreaker system is similar in execution to one of the biggest new additions to the game: Dunk Contests. The Street series has always been about flashy moves, but strangely never had dunk contests. Now you can take any character (from created ballers to NBA legends and so on) and have a dunk contest, where the point is to impress judges with skill and originality. You can extend your “combo� with moves like passing the ball to yourself from the backboard, throwing the ball around, or simply doing more and more maneuvers in the air. There are also “props� that can be set up in front of the basket, like soda machines and dumpsters that can be jumped over for increased points.

The dunk contests are actually a side show to the main mode of NBA Street V3, which is called “NBA Challenge�. Like before, you’ll take your created baller and compete against local opponents or even NBA stars in many different types of games. However, V3’s NBA Challenge mode is different than before in the fact that you go through dozens of in-game days, playing through small games with different rules, entering tournaments and dunk contests along the way. Each game is a tiny piece of the big picture, which is basically creating and upgrading your baller and your team to the best extent you possibly can. By playing each game and earning Trick Points and Gamebreakers, you’ll be awarded Street Points that will allow you to improve your baller, your gear, and even a created basketball court.

While it all sounds great on paper, there are a few problems with NBA Street V3. First of all, the NBA Challenge gets slightly repetitive when you are forced to play multiple “No Gamebreaker� or “Dunks Only� games in a row before getting a tournament or dunk contest bid. It seems like each game in-between a bigger contest serves as a filler to beef up your character. That’s another flaw: the character creation is such a slug-paced process, it seems like your baller never really grows in terms of skill. You’ll start off NBA Challenge keeping the ball away from your created character simply because his skills are terrible while the rest of your team has some sort of ability.

The technical aspects of V3 are almost all positive. The graphic style has been changed once again, from the retro feel of Volume 2 to a bigger, flashier, more hip-hop styled look for V.3. The characters look great, and the clothing in the game has a certain oversized look to it that just looks better than before. Also, the game is very colorful, from the backgrounds to the effects of a Gamebreaker. I am not much a fan of the music, however. I know the hip-hop style is the name of the game, but I would have loved to see a Custom Soundtrack option on the Xbox version of the game. The music in the game is appropriate, but it doesn’t necessarily make me a fan.

Last of all, there aren’t any real differences between the different versions of the game—the Xbox doesn’t get a custom soundtrack mode, and online play is available on both the Xbox and Playstation 2. The only difference actually has an advantage to the GameCube, where gamers of that platform have the option to play as the Nintendo All-Star team, which features Mario, Luigi, and Princess Peach.

Once the ball gets rolling, NBA Street V.3 is one of the most entertaining sports titles out there. EA Sports BIG has really hit a high note in game development with these extreme-arcade sports titles, including NFL Street and the upcoming FIFA Street. NBA Street V3 is a welcome update to the pioneer of this success, and it is one of the best basketball titles out there.

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 7.5
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 8.5
Final: 8.6
Written by Cliff Review Guide

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