NBA All Net is a new online-based management game for iOS and Android. Like most games in the free-to-play sports game genre, you’ll be collecting cards and bumping stats in order to (hopefully) win games. Also similar are the strong social networking integration, timers as a way to elongate play, and numerous micro-transactions. So, what sets NBA All Net apart?
First, NBA All Net has a really slick interface, which works well even on a smaller iPhone screen. It’s functional, and puts your starting line-up front and center. Portraits of your players look clean against a relatively dark bank drop, and a color coding system helps define levels and ranks.
In-game action looks really good as well, with animated plays and effects indicated dunks, streaky players, and percentage shots. The games can run at full-speed, double speed, or skipped altogether. I tend to skip most games, since there isn’t much to do in-game but watch; however, they aren’t bad game animations.
On the management side of things, there’s a lot do to (more on that later). Players can level up, transfer XP to other players, increase team chemistry, wear equipment, etc. You can challenge others to ranked matches or take on a ladder of legendary players. These challenges follow the career path of a recent NBA star, though the team you face seems to be relatively arbitrary.
As mentioned above, there is a lot going on in this free-to-play game, and in some ways, it’s a detriment to the overall experience. This crazy mix of options and strategies feels endless: do I want to rank up or level up my newly drafted star player (yes, those are different things). And what exactly is the difference between training, development, and evolution?
I can’t answer that one for you unfortunately, because so much of this game unlocks as you level up. This can be seen as a positive: the game gently eases you into this wild complexity. Or, you can view it as another hook to get you to keep playing. Tutorial screens do help somewhat, but unless you are willing to devote time to managing XP and at least four different types of resources (gold, diamonds, topaz, energy), you might not stick around to find out what everything does. What’s worse, the energy meter, in typical free-to-play, limits how much you can play in a day.
These types of games, presumably growing out of Facebook-style games, are fairly common. NBA All Net is one of the better looking ones that I’ve seen, and carries all of the licensing of an official NBA product. There’s a lot going on, making it one of the more complex free-to-play games I’ve experiences.
Yet a lot going on doesn’t equal good. This game seems to throw all of the free-to-play tropes into the mix; what comes out is just too disjointed and busy for me to enjoy.