Freestyle Street Basketball Review
Freestyle Street Basketball box art
System: PC Review Rating Legend
Dev: JC Entertainment 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Sierra 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: May 16, 2007 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-6 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
A style all its own

by Matthew Walker

May 30, 2007 - Over time, basketball has become the sport of America, replacing baseball on many levels. Basketball will get the blood flowing from just watching a full game. Of course, there have been basketball games that have delivered by allowing us to play as some of our favorite players of the sport on the professional and college level. With Freestyle Street Basketball, Siera and JC Entertainment provide an experience that is innovative and a great step forward in online gameplay. However, does this attempted innovation stand proud on the ball court or does it slump away dissed and trash-talked all the way home?

Freestyle Street Basketball screenshot

Freestyle faces a daunting task right before you even install the game on your computer - having enough players to feasibly support the claim of massive multiplayer. Once you download the game, you discover that you cannot play on your own. The exception is the sub-par tutorial that does not exactly tell you when it is your turn to try out the basic moves of the game. After you learn the basics of the game, you can move right on with the ability to play an actual game. This, of course, is if you can find one.

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I would have to say that this is probably one of my biggest problems with the game. Granted, when you have a massive online game, it eventually reaches the point of not as many players playing the game, thus making it an obsolete game on many levels. This has become an expectation over time. However, you would not expect this problem to occur with a title only being available for a couple of weeks. It is almost disheartening to see this happen with a game that obviously is taking a risk to incorporate the sports genre, which is mainly dominated by the RPG enthusiasts.

Freestyle Street Basketball screenshot

You will be able to select from three variations of gaming - one on one, two on two, and three on three. Of course, after you select the type of game that you want to play, you will wait, and then wait some more. In fact, you will wait for a very long time if you are just starting out. Using the old "you need experience to do this but if no one gives you a chance how do you get experience" rule of life is something I wish had not been done. However, when you do gain access to a game, you will see the internet connection the other players have, allowing you to see if the game will be smooth or if there will be lag in the other players. In case you missed how strong the other players' connections are, you can look at the loading screen and watch the others load up. Once you see how long it takes them to reach 100%, you can judge how good their connections are for yourself. When the game begins, you will quickly realize how fast paced the game is; JC Entertainment did an exceptional hob at capturing the pace of a street game.

The pacing is quick and relentless, due in part to the simplistic controls. You will only need four buttons to perform the maneuvers of basketball - A, S, D, and W. Add those four keys to the arrow buttons to move you player around and you have an easy to master button configuration. However, there are a few special moves that ask you to utilize a couple of those buttons together or in a variation of the other. If you are feeling particularly fresh about how good your game is, the number buttons 1-6 allow for some "friendly" street talk. Unfortunately, the simple controls do not perform the way that they should. There are times that if you try to steal, you will look like an idiot just swinging his arms aimlessly around the mid section of another player. Even shooting the ball and scoring is not as simple as it is proclaimed to be. Actually, the only button that reacts quickly and proficiently is the pass button; well, it might work for you, but other players seemed to have broken theirs.

Freestyle Street Basketball screenshot

The cel-shade effect on the characters is not as out of place as one might think. If you happen to be a fan of Dragon Ball Z, you will notice that there is are striking resemblances between the characters you create here and the hugely popular anime show. Using the points and bills that you obtain through playing the game, you can change the appearance of your character to fit the type of person you are. The selection of items to adjust the street cred appearance of your character is quite nice. The music selection for the game is nice, but I would have liked to seen a variety of music styles incorporated into the game instead of a specific style for the music. While having the ability to trash talk while playing is a great concept, the execution is not as spot on as it could have been, thus making the trash talk repetitively annoying on many levels. So much, you might turn down the volume on the computer.

Freestyle has a lot heart and, just like a real game of basketball, it takes heart to be any good. This, of course, does not say that it is not without faults, but for $20 how can you turn down a game that could shape the outcome of a new massive multiplayer online genre? Get on the court and prove yourself even if it does take you a while to place your first footprint on the concrete court.

By Matthew Walker
CCC Freelance Writer

Features:

  • 45 Levels of Gameplay - Earn experience to advance your player. As you advance, you get access to new leagues, items, and skills.
  • Three Gameplay Modes - Play fast-paced 1 on 1, 2 on 2, or 3 on 3 pick-up basketball games against your friends from around the country.
  • Eight Courts - Choose from eight different courts to play, including famous New York City courts like The Cage and Rucker Park.
  • Ongoing Player Growth - As you play, you earn experience to grow your player. Use your game point to buy new clothes and skills as you level up.
  • Millions of player customization options - Positions: Center, Small Forward, Power Forward, Shooting Guard, Point Guard - Clothing: Hundreds of shoes, shorts, pants, warm-ups, jerseys, tanks, tattoos, and more. - Skills: There are 20+ unique skills like the One-Handed Power Slam for each position.
  • Incredible Online community - Participate in leader boards, brackets, tournaments, forums, and more at www.thefreestylepark.com.
  • Easy to Play - Anyone can pick-up and play FreeStyle. All the dynamic moves in FreeStyle can be accomplished with just four keys!


    3.3

    Overall Rating - Fair
    Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
    Rating out of 5
    Rating Description

    3.1

    Graphics
    The graphics look smooth, and the character models relive the 2D graphics in a 3D world.

    3.6

    Control
    Four keys is all that you will need to succeed on the court. You can't get much better than that.

    3.0

    Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
    While the beats are great there could have been more diversity in the music.

    3.2

    Play Value
    The simplicity of performing some of the most dynamic moves will ensure several hours of gameplay. If you can actually participate in a game.


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