NBA Street Homecourt Review

Entering the next generation in style, NBA Street brings its arcade b-ball roots to the 360 and PS3 with sweetness to spare. Homecourt puts a glossy coat of paint and trims the fat of three previous iterations, resulting in a leaner, tighter experience. EA Canada (the same folks that bring us SSX every few years) has tightened up the screws which have kept the series together for the past five years, while simultaneously throwing a few choice innovations into the mix, resulting in the best game of NBA Street yet.

Homecourt puts on one hell of a show. The combination of incredible animation and the newly refined GameBreaker system results in a truly show-stopping experience. There is no basketball game on the market, arcade or sim, that presents the true style of the sport quite like Homecourt does. From the shockingly authentic mini-documentaries that introduce new courts (and the famous players that cut their teeth on them), to the downright amusing antics of its cat-and-mouse showdowns, Homecourt is a true crowd pleaser.

If you’re unfamiliar with NBA Street, the basics are simple. It’s a speedy 3-on-3 arcade experience that makes no concession to realism; the athletes may be familiar to fans of the sport (Carmelo Anthony, Rip Hamilton and other NBA stars make appearances, with a welcome focus on WNBA as well), but at its core, Street shakes-and-bakes like a modern day NBA Jam.

The presentation and art direction are simply marvelous. The clean and inspired front-end gives way to stellar looking sepia-toned beachfront half-courts, as well as sharp and reflective indoor hard courts. There is a well-rounded sense of variety that its predecessors (and all other b-ball contenders for that matter) lack. While not all of the textures and models are a slam dunk, it’s how it’s all put together that really impresses. Each of the different courts exhibit their own sense of style and personality, and really convey the feeling that they’re in diverse parts of the country. A total lack of crowds throws a wrench into this a bit, dialing back the atmosphere. Outsiders are sparse, and what few spectators the game does include look disinterested in the killer gameplay on display, often walking by without looking. Go figure.

Of course, the gameplay is nothin’ but net. An addictive and engaging combo system offers up a plentiful palette of stylish maneuvers to show-off with. Using two face buttons (and two shoulder buttons in tandem), a wide variety of fakes, shuffles, and straight-up break dances can be performed with minimal effort before the ball is taken to the rim. By faking your opponent with successful trick moves, you build a modifier that will double, triple, quadruple (and so on) their potential point value; if the defenders manage to steal the ball, all your current trick points vanish. This risk/reward style of play can be seen everywhere in the game. GameBreakers are made more interesting by riffing off this same design ethos — activate a GB after filling your meter with trick points, and you’ll be given the opportunity to take points off your opponents score and add them to your own.

The point value taken away is determined by how many trick points are earned before the ball falls through the net. Each trick performed gives you the opportunity to raise that total, but also give your defenders a chance at stealing the ball. If they do, the GameBreaker changes hands. In previous entries, the GB would simply vanish in this situation, but including this kind of back-and-forth tug-of-war innovation has made the game considerably more intense.

The options don’t end there, either. Once you’ve decided to take the ball to basket, you’ve a slew of ways to put your team on the board. Ditching the right-analog stick controlled custom trick feature seen in Vol. 3, the series goes back-to-basics with its spectacular, show-stopping dunk system. New to Homecourt is the ability to launch off teammates from the 3-point line for some truly high-flying acrobatics. Also included is the awesome ability to "double dip" your dunks for double points, if you time them right. Don’t, and the possession of the ball will assuredly turn over in a most embarrassing fashion. You can also shoot the ball, but why would you want to?

All of this translates to an exceptional multiplayer game. Played on one console with four people, this is a party game with limitless potential. The arcade style of play drifts so far from the real thing that fandom of the sport need not apply. Skillful play is rewarded here; in the same steel-wool tradition of any decent fighting game, Homecourt is easy to learn, hard to master. Unfortunately, in the games’ biggest misstep, online play merely amounts to an afterthought. While lag-free and perfectly enjoyable, it limits the competition to two players, and if you’re leaned on four it doesn’t suffice.

Another minor problem is the removal of the custom homecourt feature of Vol. 3, a perplexing omission considering the games subtitle. Customizable characters is another starkly missing feature. While modes are plentiful, they aren’t altogether that different; it would have been nice to see the development team go really crazy with their ideas. It’s not too big of a deal, though, because the core gameplay is so damn impressive.

For sportos, this should be an instant purchase. Casual fans of basketball won’t be at a disservice to check this game out either, and it’s good enough that I’d recommend it to anyone who just likes fun games, period. Easily the best entry in the series yet, the game delivers a solid package well worth its price tag.


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Myspace
  • Google Buzz
  • Reddit
  • Stumnleupon
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Technorati
Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

Leave A Response

You must be logged in to post a comment.