NBA Street V3
Let’s not beat about the bush: NBA Street V3 is far less enjoyable than its predecessor, and is therefore in great difficulty from the start. Volume 2 was a benchmark in the Street series, as it was enjoyed by both serious and casual basketball fans alike; now it seems like all that hard work has been undone in favour of a few flashy moves.
When it comes to videogame adaptations of US sports, basketball titles are easily the most enjoyable – the action is always fast-paced, end-to-end stuff, rather than the stop-start play of American football and (shudder) baseball. Perhaps this is where NBA Street has finally tripped over its own shoelaces, hit the ground and knocked out one of its gold fronts.
NBA Street V3 has focused squarely on looking great rather than offering the player much in the way of an actual game. Thus, the main appeal of the series has been bullied off the court. What made Volume 2 so exceptional was that its gameplay was so slick and tight, allowing the player with the best skills to shine through. Now it’s stuffed so full of fancy animations and daft trick combinations that the responsiveness has been totally ripped out of the game. V3 is all about eye candy, presentation and bling; because of this, it becomes an absolutely soulless and frustrating Xbox experience.
Oh yes, the game does look incredible, with the over-the-top players shimmying neatly around the detailed courts with the grace of ballet dancers. While this is great to watch, the heavy emphasis on looking great takes a real toll on the action. Indeed, all the game’s other features are rendered completely pointless because of the simple fact that using them only leads back to the same, substandard gaming experience. Street games, dunk contests, style battles – all totally flawed because of the fact that they exist within the new NBA Street game engine. The AI may well have been honed to perfection in order to suit each player’s actual style, but this means absolutely nothing when the game has pretty much decided what will happen in every encounter, long before the player has had the chance to hammer any button.
Looking for other positives within the game seems like an exercise in futility. Nevertheless, NBA Street V3 has some of the most advanced creation technology available in a game. EA has clearly not wanted to rest with letting players insert their own likeness into the game; now players of NBA Street V3 are given the option to build their very own court, choosing floor types, backboards, and all manner of crazy background knick-knacks. Gamers can even create their very own trainers (sorry, “sneakers”), which we assume are knocked out quickly by a virtual Chinese sweatshop full of ten-year-olds hidden deep with the game disc.
Unfortunately this, and all the rest of the sugar coating that the game is drenched in, still can’t hide the fact that when it comes to gaming, style is nothing without substance.