|System: PS3, X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA Canada||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: EA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Spring 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 - 4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|Preview by D'Marcus Beatty||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by DMarcus Beatty
The NBA street games have always been at the forefront of streetballin'. Eschewing constrictive rules like shot clocks or calling fouls, the NBA Street has always been about two things: Scoring and looking as pretty as possible when doing so. Now, with the series advancing to next-gen, making the "prettiness" all but guaranteed, the focus is being shifted to giving gamers direct control how that prettiness looks.
The first change in NBA Street Homecourt is evident in the title. There is going to be a change in venue. Instead of playing on famous courts that everyone has heard of, EA chose to bring the gameplay to the homecourts of many of the NBA players, like Carmelo Anthony's Cloverdale in Baltimore or Rip Hamilton's homecourt in Coatsville PA. Each court has been studied meticulously by the developers to re-create the environment in the game as accurately as possible. One great example of this is in Melo's Cloverdale, which is comprised of six different baskets, with three different games going on. The player can play on any of the courts, although he must earn enough respect to be able to play on the top court. All told, there will ten different locations to conquer.
Another very interesting addition to the NBA Street formula is the alteration in the way that dribble moves are performed. For probably the first time in gaming history, the player has direct control over the dribble moves, including the rhythm as well as the actual moves. The technique involves a dribble button that causes the baller to dribble between his legs when the button is pressed. Pressing the button repeatedly causes the player to dribble between his legs multiple times, and the speed of the button presses determines the speed of the dribbling. The player can even move while performing this quick dribbling maneuver. In addition to this, pressing and holding the button will cause the player to perform a hesitation move, which can be thrown spontaneously into the crossover. These moves will vary depending upon how long the button is held down. In addition to that, the bumper (or trigger) buttons can be used as modifiers to the dribble techniques, allowing the player to get even fancier. Finally, there is even another trick button, for moves more elaborate than the simple crossover. All of this give the player unprecedented control, as the practiced player will always have control over the dribbling and will never have to worry about their player going into any canned animations. To make sure that the player can perfect their moves before they take it to the court, there is a practice mode to try out the different dribbling moves.
Don't expect everyone to be able to complete a chain of crossover moves however. Each player is rated depending on his ability with the ball and will belong to one of four classes. The first class belongs to the awkward big man like Shaq or Yao, who will only be able to perform simple crossovers. Mediocre dribblers will be able to perform crossovers and a few trick crossovers. Good ballhandlers will be able to perform almost all of the tricks, but the master handlers like Allen Iverson or Nash will have exclusive skills, some of which are only available to other players during their gamebreakers.
Visually, Homecourt doesn't disappoint. The character models all look great, although their skin seems a little shiny. Despite that, all of the players are recognizable on sight, with highly detailed figures that animate with lifelike precision. The detail paid to re-creating the environments shows as well, as all of the courts seem photorealistic. The developers took extra care to include the area surrounding the courts as well, creating a living and immersive gameworld in and around the basketball game.
NBA Street Homecourt is the fourth NBA Street game but the first next-gen version, arriving on both Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3 this spring. With its controllable dribbling, beautiful graphics, and revamped gameplay, Homecourt might be the sporst title to keep an eye out for.
CCC Assistant Site Director