STAFF REVIEW of NBA Street Vol. 3 (Xbox)

Thursday, February 17, 2005.
by Yankeez

NBA Street Vol. 3 Box art I suppose I could write thousands of words that would cause jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring reactions that would lead you all to rush out and pick up this game. I could write poetic lines about how amazing it is to play a game like this. I could take a thousand screenshots of every trick and every Gamebreaker. I could stand outside a store and yell made up chants about how every person walking buy should pick up a copy of this game. I could even beg you to buy this game and experience for yourself what its like, but I?m not going to do that. Because there are just four words I need to say for you to get the point. This game is SICK.

The previous versions of NBA Street were mildly amusing to me. I could pick one up, play it for a while, and then throw it away like yesterday?s donuts. Not Street 3, though. This is truly a huge step up for this series, making games like NBA Ballers look useless. Rarely do you see so much improvement in a series in just one installment, but EA Sports Big has definitely defied convention here. This game has got me captivated. There is a lot more depth to this than recent versions, which keeps it always new and interesting, and never getting boring. You?ve got your classic pickup game, (with people leaping over defenders and flipping the ball like a fish out of water, this isn?t exactly something you?d see around the courts of America, but the style is the same), the Dunk Contest, which is pretty basic, and the Street Challenge, which is by far the most interesting mode. The Street Challenge comes off as a comparison to franchise mode in other games, making it just as fun and interesting to play as NBA Live, something that rarely happens in non-realistic games such as this. When you put those in-depth options with the straight up crazy gameplay that has never really been seen before, you have one excellent game mode.

The first step to street challenge is creating a baller (which is accessed from a different menu, but you must create a baller to actually compete in the street challenge). You can pick basic attributes from a list, with a limited point set (based on points you can earn by winning games in the later stages, so that your baller?s ability will expand), such as agility, quicks, and dunks. As you purchase more points, the cost increases so that it becomes more difficult to turn your baller into a superstar. As you up the points in different categories, your baller becomes a specialty player in whatever area you pick him to. Give him height and up his power and dunks, you?ve got a dunker. Make a short guy with some shooing skill; you?ve got yourself a 3-baller. You may then select the physical attributes, and change the baller in a variety of ways, such as head type, skin color, and a portrait for your baller.

But no baller is ready for street play without a team, so the next options are teammates. You can pick two from a list of male and female ballers, each with their owned assigned specialty. Need a 3-ball man? They got it. Need a shot blockin? dunker? They got it. Need a quick, agile, pointmaker? They got it. As time moves on you can pick up more ballers so that you can rotate the lineup, using different players for different opponents. That?s a great fact about this game; you can better prepare for different opponents. So many games leave you with a simple, unchanging lineup, but Street 3 allows you to rotate to best assure the victory. In the beginning, you pick the two players you best think compliment your baller, and then move on to the court creation.

Your court can also be customized in several ways. You can change the surface of the court, the time of day, and even the type of baskets. Get all this done, and it?s on to the competition, where you can play on your own court or several others around the country, including New York?s famed Rucker Park. The games have several different rule settings; NBA scoring is just a regular NBA scoring game, while there are other games such as pick up games, where the rules are unique to the game, and the trick point game.

Tricks are probably the best part of the game. You use the right joystick (the ?Trick Stick?), to flip the ball around like you were a member of the Harlem Globetrotters. Each move is worth a certain amount of points, and that decreases each time you do it when you have the ball, then resets on the next possession. Trick point games have a certain number of trick points you must get, and the first to that number wins. Baskets count for nothing, unless they are part of a trick, in which you are awarded more trick points. When you earn enough trick points, you?ll be eligible for a Gamebreaker, in which you go up for a shot and, if it?s a dunk, you can pass the ball around as many times as you want so that you can build up the trick points, making the Gamebreaker devastating to any trick game, often ending it. This is different than the Gamebreaker in former versions, because now the user is more involved. You don?t just get a shot that will go in for sure, or a cool dunk. No matter how many tricks or passes you manage to pull off, if you don?t time it right, you can miss that dunk. Nothing is for sure, which is what makes it interesting.

That being said, the point of the street challenge is to play up to two games a day for 10 weeks to up your rep. You have a selection of games each day, so that you don?t always have to play the same style, and then there is always another selection of games at night. This is where the aforementioned game types come into play, such as the Trick Point game, the game to 7 by dunks, or the game to 21 with street scoring. You can even play in the NBA Summer League with some of the greatest to grace the pro courts. As your rep increases, so does the number of courts you can play on. Add to that the fact that after each win you can take players from the other team, including NBA Players and you have plenty of motivation to keep getting better.

Dunk Contest is an original entry for this type of game. You can pick up to 8 dunkers from current NBA Top Dunkers, NBA Legends, or any team you like. Next it?s on to the match, where all the players you picked go at it head to head, on a variable number of dunks. If you pick three dunks, then each player goes three times, and the two best dunks are used for his score. This is where the Trick Stick is used most. You can pass the ball to yourself off the backboard, leap from the three point line, or do any number of tricks to up your score. Each dunk is worth up to thirty points. The contest is interesting, but sadly doesn?t hold up to street challenge. This would be a great mode for a party, but for basic gameplay, it gets old quickly.

Finally, you have the classic pickup game. There are several game types, all of which are available to play in the Street Challenge mode. This mode and the Dunk Contest really seem to just be practice for the Street Challenge mode, as they lack anything original outside of that mode. They work well for practice, but as far as gameplay goes, playing with no real point gets old quickly.

This game does have one other major benefit that you wouldn?t expect. It uses the NBA Live engine to create better player models, and gameplay. The faces are so realistic that it?s almost impossible to not know who someone is from the first second you see them. The player models look much more detailed and polished up in this years version compared to previous years. The controls are excellent, and quite simple to master, especially with the innovative Trick Stick, that they might as well make them the standard setup for basketball games from here on out. The player models are also outstanding, giving this game an amount of realism you wouldn?t expect from something unrealistic. This game was just flat out designed well.

Something that all fans of the NBA Street series badly wanted was online play through Xbox Live, well this year their dreams have come true. EA has integrated this year?s game with Xbox Live and did a great job, just like previous EA games that support Xbox live you will be playing on EA servers. I honestly didn?t mind, in all the game I played I rarely ran into any lag issues. One thing that some people might not like is having to create a new player for online play, that means the only way to develop your up and coming NBA Street star is to beat real life players from across the world.

One of my few complaints for the game would be in the sound department. The hip-hop tracks aren?t bad but not being able to import your own tracks is a real disappointment considering in other 05 EA sports games you had this option, the same goes for commentating as Bobbito?s voice gets old real fast, after just a couple of games I found myself just putting the game on mute and turning up the stereo. This is the part of the game where I think EA has to really work on for the next version of Street.

EA Sports has really scored big here. This game really is the best of all the street type games I?ve played. The varying gameplay keeps from ever getting old. The Street Challenge gets addicting. You?ll find yourself playing this nonstop, wishing that you could leap into the game and be the one to slam the ball home. You will most definitely want to add this game to your Xbox collection.

Overall: 9.6 / 10
Gameplay: 9.4 / 10
Visuals: 9.8 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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