NBA Street Homecourt Review (PS3)
NBA Jam started it. Back in 1993, Midway released an over-the-top basketball game featuring professional players, and it instantly became an arcade hit. Fourteen years later, we’ve seen these action-packed games, featuring unrealistic gameplay, for every major sport. However, it’s no longer Midway’s NBA Jam that dominates the genre, it’s EA Big’s NBA Street series at the top of the hill, and they’ve held that spot for several years now. With their latest installment, EA Big makes their debut on the Playstation 3 with NBA Street: Homecourt.
Outstanding graphics and character models have become a trademark of the NBA Street series, and EA Big delivers yet again. I’d argue that they’re the best you’ll find in any sports game, period. Also, in a game that features outrageous crossovers and electrifying dunks, it’s important that the animations are strung together flawlessly and NBA Street: Homecourt doesn’t disappoint. With fluid animations and a solid frame-rate, the action is fast and furious from the opening tip to the rim-rattling game winning dunk.
As impressive as NBA Street: Homecourt looks, it’s equally impressive in the gameplay department. The responsive controls are easy to learn, yet don’t leave you feeling limited in what you can do. In Homecourt, EA Big introduces the Trick Remixer, which gives you different options for performing tricks. The square and triangle are the trick buttons, while the L1 and R1 buttons are your modifiers. For instance, tapping the square button will perform a fast crossover. If you were to hold the L1 button while tapping the square button, you’ll pull off a crossover between your legs. Holding the R1 button while tapping the square button will execute a behind the back crossover. It’s simple to grasp, and makes ball-handling incredibly fun. As exciting as that sounds, putting the ball through the hoop is the objective, right? Well, EA Big has presented us with several ways to do that. Tapping the circle button performs a layup, while pressing it executes a basic dunk. However, pressing and holding the circle button pulls off a rim-hanging dunk. If you hold the button until the last possible second, you’ll execute a double-dunk that counts as two points. As with the Trick Remixer, you can use the L1 and R1 buttons to modify your dunks. Combine L1 with the circle button for a windmill dunk, while R1 combined with the circle button performs a 360 degree dunk. Pressing both modifiers, as well as the circle button, unleashes a signature dunk. As you can tell, there’s plenty of substance to go with this beauty.
NBA Street: Homecourt’s feature mode is the Homecourt Challenge. The goal is to take your custom baller from the depths of obscurity and put his name, and homecourt, on the map. The mode starts on your homecourt with a variety of custom ballers to evaluate. You’ll have to settle on one to captain your team. Picking a player that best suits your playing style is crucial, so choose wisely. EA Big threw an interesting twist in the player creation mode for NBA Street: Homecourt. You pick a face to start with, then pick two NBA pros. The game puts all three faces at separate points on a triangle. You find a spot within the triangle, which acts as a slider, that blends all three faces to your liking. It's different, but also something you could achieve in any game without an extensive player creation mode. After you’re finished with the player creation process, your quest begins. You start as a player with limited skills, but are able to level up these skills with Respect Points earned by completing challenges against other teams. Both winners and losers earn Respect Points, but obviously the winners earn more, so it’s important to pick players that complement your custom baller best if you want to increase your skill-set faster. Aside from earning just respect points, you can also garner gear rewards for clothing or shoes. Wearing these rewards earn you additional Respect Points to help increase the rate at which you level up. Along the way, you’ll face teams of other custom ballers or teams featuring NBA players. The challenges vary. Some games only register points for shots made, while others only count dunks.
NBA Street: Homecourt is packed with several other game modes. The Game Breaker Battle only registers baskets scored within Game Breaker mode. The Trick Battle mode awards a point to the first team to fill their Game Breaker meter and make a basket. As expected, these modes are heavily based on the amount of tricks you can pull off, as the goal is to fill your meter the quickest. In the Back to Basics mode, well, you’ll be quite familiar with this. It’s basketball. No tricks, no Game Breakers, just plain basketball. There’s also a Custom Game mode that allows you to tweak specific rules like the shot clock, how fast the Game Breaker meter fills, and the point system used per basket. As you can see, there’s plenty of options to choose from, which will help keep this game spinning in your system for months to come.
When it comes to EA games, I’m starting to sound like a broken record when discussing the online portion of their titles. As expected, the online options disappoint again. We’re limited to a Quick Match mode, and Leaderboards. That’s it, nothing else to see here. A game like this flourishes in multi-player, yet we’re left with next to nothing in that area online.
Overall, NBA Street: Homecourt is probably the most entertaining and enjoyable sports game available for the Playstation 3. While the Homecourt Challenge mode gets monotonous, the offline multi-player is where this game truly shines. It takes you back to the days of those “BOOM-SHAKA-LAKA” NBA Jam dunks at your local arcade, only now you can enjoy it in the comfort of your own home.