Street Hoops Review (Xbox)
When you think of the game Street Hoops, you should think of the And 1 Mix tape or the Rucker. For those of you unfamiliar with the And 1 Mix tape, it’s a video that features highlights of some of the best street ballers in the country set to hip-hop music. The Rucker (or the Entertainers Basketball Classic) is a tournament that features some of the best street ballers and some NBA players such as Kobe Bryant and Baron Davis. Street Hoops features many of the players from the And 1 Mix tape, like ½ Man ½ Amazing, Booger Smith, Headache and Hot Sauce (who I am ashamed to say embarrassed me when I played against him at Run and Shoot in Atlanta) The tape shows a different kind of basketball. It’s just a bunch of players doing one on one moves and it shows a bunch of moves that you will never see in an NBA game. So the first thing you should do when playing this game is to forget about the NBA. This game isn’t about pick and rolls and triangle offenses. It’s just supposed to be basketball, the way it’s played at the court down the street or at your local gym. No plays, no fouls (Unless you want to turn them on in the options). Just basketball.
Now a few games have tried to bring street basketball to video games. One in particular that I remember was Charles Barkley’s Shut Up and Jam, which was horrible. The best street basketball game I have ever played was NBA Street. Some of the game play was over the top and unrealistic but that didn’t matter because it was fun and it wasn’t meant to be taken seriously. So here comes Activision with Street Hoops. A game that attempts to be more like actual street basketball then NBA Street but at the same time have the same fun factor. Does this game accomplish this? Let’s see.
The game features courts from all across the country. All of the courts look a lot like their real life counterparts. The Rucker Park and Run and Shoot courts are very faithful to how they actually look. In the background there are people watching the game, cars driving on the streets, and scenery like buildings and trees. The courts can be drastically different. For example, when playing in French Lick, Indiana, you will be playing on a dirt court. That may seem a little strange but I have to give a lot of credit to Activision for the authentic look of the courts.
Now the player models are a whole other thing. There seems to be no real difference in the looks of the players. Sure they have different heights, weights, and hairstyles but there really does not appear to be much definition on the faces. Also, all of the faces seem to be rather dark and undefined. In other basketball games you can clearly see the difference between players, but in Street Hoops it’s hard to tell the difference between certain players. The problem with the player models is something I can’t place my finger on, but they just don’t look right.
This part is pretty easy to review. If you like hip-hop, you will like the music. If you don’t, you wont. It’s that simple. The game includes 15 songs from various hip-hop artists like DMX, Master P, Xzibit, and Cypress Hill. Its not original music but it features some of their more popular songs and after about 50 games I really didn’t find myself getting tired of it.
The in game sounds are basic but good. The trash talk and the sound of the ball while dribbling and coming off the rim are particularly good.
Street Hoops features four modes of play World Tournament, Lord of the Court, Full Court and Half Court pickup. In the World Tournament mode, you pick a team and you travel to different courts around the country facing different street teams. This is the meat of the game. The more games you win, the more money you earn for your team and the more players and courts you can unlock. However, once you unlock the new courts or players, you have to pay to place the new players on your team or to play on the new courts. This may require you to play more then one game at some courts to build up your finances.
In between each game you are given the opportunity to go shopping. You can take your team to Foot Action to buy some new clothes, the tattoo parlor for tattoos, the pawnshop for jewelry, or the barbershop for a haircut. You can also place a bet with a bookie on your team in order to make some quick cash. I have read some reviews that had a problem with this aspect of the game but I didn’t have a problem with it at all, and I actually see it as an asset. This part of the game increases the game’s longevity because it gives the gamer the goals to reach for.
Already unlocked all the courts? Make a couple of bets so you can afford to put AO or the Future on your team. Already unlocked all the players? Keep winning so you can go to the pawnshop and buy that platinum chain for $20,000. It may sound stupid but there are many people who will keep playing this game for months just to see if they can put gold and platinum chains on their players and this alone increases the longevity of this game
In Lord of the Court you play as the home team and try to beat as many teams as you can in a row. By winning you unlock highlight videos from the And 1 Mix tapes. Full Court and Half Court Pickup are self-explanatory. Another positive is that this mode is fully customizable. You can play 5 on 5, 4 on 4, or 3 on 3. You can play a timed game or to a set point limit. You can earn money in these modes by placing bets also.
Now the game offers a solid game of basketball. The game features all of the options that make a good game of basketball. Players have the ability to post up however, the moves are limited. When you are in the post you have two choices, shoot a fade away or spin towards the basket. It’s easy to run the fast break and the AI runs it well also. Because of the fast paced action in this game, you will find plenty of opportunities to run the break. The dunk animations look great and are numerous. When playing against the computer, the AI makes smart decisions and always is looking for an open shot.
There are still a few problems with the game play. Fouls only occur under the basket, so nothing prevents someone from constantly reaching in. The game has late game AI by looking for three pointers when they are down late in the game, however the computer refuses to intentionally foul when it is down late in a game. Another negative is that everyone can dunk. Now this is a small thing but it annoys me to no end. Women and players under 6 feet (like Booger Smith) can dunk with authority. Now, I have played and seen plenty of street ball and it is rare that I see women and short point guards dunking over players 6’7 and above. This is a small thing but it takes away from the games authenticity.
The bottom line is that Street Hoops is a solid basketball game. It offers a lot of features that will keep a street basketball fan interested in this game. Still, if you aren’t into street basketball or not a big basketball fan, I can’t suggest giving this game more than a rental.