• You have got to admire EA Sports and their passion for mass production of sports games across all formats… only this mass production and never ending choice from EA of late with the Xbox 360 can create a negative response and has left a lot of their titles being slated for their ease of play, and ease of gamerscore points. EA can also be accused of continually producing games that are just more of the same and only making slight differences coupled with slapping a new year on its game title. Games like Madden and Fifa being huge examples of this, but yet… still they manage to hold onto the fan base and we just sit back and lap it up year after year. NBA Street Homecourt is certainly not the exception here and is the fourth game in the NBA Street series. Having made its debut on the PS2 back in 2001 it now makes its first time appearance on the next generation Xbox 360 and PS3. NBA Street Homecourt as the name suggests is a basketball game but moves away from what you might expect and is all about a three on three showboating affair with huge trick shots and an aggressive style of play.

    Gameplay modes come in a few flavours on NBA Street Homecourt. These modes include multiple quick play modes, the homecourt challenge which in essence is your main offline game career and the game also offers full Xbox LIVE Multiplayer support with both ranked and unranked games. Without doubt the majority of your time will be spent running through the homecourt challenge, and as such taking a rookie baller and two team mates through to glory and turning yourself into a legend.

    The control set up in NBA Street Homecourt is a very neat and simple to understand affair. One face button is assigned to passing with another for shooting. Right trigger gives you a speed burst and the two remaining face buttons namely X and Y are used for dribbling the ball and when combined with either shoulder button to pull off the crazy, always fun to watch trick moves. Off the ball, face buttons will control switching player, shoving the opposition out of the way and pulling off blocks and steals. It takes no time at all to learn what everything does and within five minutes you will be playing like a pro… it really is as easy as that.

    NBA Street Homecourt

    When you start the homecourt challenge you need to pick from a small list of available ballers, each having slight distinctive differences but all being very low ranked players. Once you have made this choice you can add some slight customisation to your baller, picking a different face but this is in no way leading you towards creating true likeness to yourself. Having satisfied your creative talent you then will name your homecourt and get to choose two teammates from another list of limited players. Get all this slight tweaking and building out of the way and you are presented with the main homecourt challenge screen and given a number of different game types to choose from. These games will include playing a dunks only game to a certain score, shots only, pick up play and a gamebreaker battle. Now the way the system works is as you progress through each of these challenges new and fresh challenges will pop up and every time you win a game, you will increase the skills of your baller and as such level up. Hit certain levels in the game and you are rewarded for having done so, including new clothing and shoes, and also when you do hit certain level markers you are presented with a tournament and getting through all these will eventually end your game and give you the legend status.

    Now while some of the above might leave you wondering, “huh… what did he just say”? It really is a pretty simple and straightforward affair of just constantly completing challenge after challenge and reaping such rewards for having done so. This however does create a downside in that the homecourt challenge does become a tad repetitive, as the variety in what you are doing is not wide enough in scope and when you have reached mid status in your career you will pretty much never lose a game and as such can be a bit mind numbing with carrying on. That said it’s the showboating element that creates the foundation for this game and that element that makes you grin like a crazed lunatic when playing.

    In terms of physical gameplay, NBA Street Homecourt is in the main a very fluid set up. Players move with ease and pass quickly with impressive execution. Two pointers while a bit hit and miss with your skill set at first are pulled off with style later on in the game, (my advice here is simple – use your ‘freak skill’ on shooting). Performing a dunk is also a wonderful fluid motion and just requires you to accelerate into the key and hold down the shoot button. When you do this a power meter starts and the longer you hold it the better the dunk, however hold it down too long and you will miss the dunk with the ball bouncing back out of the hoop. Double dunks are performed using this motion and requires you to hit a perfect 13,000 on the meter in order for you to dunk the ball catch it with your feet and then dunk again for a two pointer. You can also pull off what are known as jump off dunks by holding down on the D-Pad to get a team mate to crouch and then allowing you to run at your crouched team-mate and jump off his/her back performing so rather lovely hang time moments. But by far the greatest moments in the game are those when you pull off gamebreaker shots/dunks. Every time you score you build up your gamebreaker meter but you can accelerate your meter by pulling off fancy dribble moves with either the X or Y button. Do this next to an opponent and you will hit multipliers which in turn increase the speed of the bar filling up. Gaining a full gamebreaker bar then allows you to hit the centre spot of the court, hit the nominated button and perform what can turn out to be a huge scoring shot. To do this when in gamebreaker mode just requires you to dribble and show boat building up another multiplier and then slamming your shot home. The gamebreaker triple dunk was by far my favourite move but then so was slamming home a five pointer. This is entirely what this game is about – it’s about showing off and looking good while you do it, the variety of shots are pretty slick and allows you to change your shot style with using either shoulder combined with the shot button and putting these together one after the other makes you feel like a basketball God.

    The problem areas with the physical gameplay and why I used the term “in the main” with the fluid set up is that defensively the game is a bit frustrating. Blocking shots is easy enough and just requires you to hold onto the face button long enough to do so, but pushing players out of the way and steals are hit and miss and worse still combined with the fact that you have to be directly in front of the player. Bear this in mind when you remember that this game is about showboating and the CPU players will be moving around a lot and as such causes a hit and miss affair in taking the ball off them. Add to this that when you do get the ball all players seem to have a problem actually picking the ball up so your frustration sometimes mounts when you have stole the ball only to find you have butter fingers and leaves the CPU free to re-collect the dropped ball. My advice for you here is to seriously considering using your ‘master skill’ reward on steals and as such increasing the likelihood of you getting the ball with ease and without having the mash the steals button all the time.

    There are sixteen achievements in NBA Street Homecourt worth one thousand gamer points. Only two of these achievements are tied to the Xbox LIVE Multiplayer support, however that said the trick shot specific achievements can be gained through either career mode or Xbox LIVE play. Outside of the shot type and multiplayer win achievements the rest are gained by simply finishing the game and will pop up as you hit certain stages. Nothing here is hard and this game should take you no longer than ten hours to complete and coupled with a LIVE buddy who also has the game and playing and winning ten private matches will leave you with the full hit of one thousand.

    Speaking of Multiplayer, you can of course choose to search out ranked or un-ranked matches using the various game options as the one you want to play, or you can choose to host a match and as above play a fully set up private match where just you and a friend can battle it out for fun or to settle some scores. There is nothing complicated with Multiplayer and you simply set your game type up, pick your team and go for it. My only frustration with the LIVE set up is that every time a match is over you are both transported back to the main menu and replay requires you to re-create the whole match again. A bit of replay would have been nice but hey-ho such is life.

    Overall NBA Street Homecourt is a pretty damn fine game. Graphically all looks nice and shines in the right places, audio presentation is good and is blended with lots of well, placed music tracks and the game certainly plays as it should. There are the repetitive issues tied into the game and could be classed by some as a bit boring after a while, plus of course with the issues effecting gameplay with defensive moves… But these are minor issues in my opinion and as short lived, as NBA Street Homecourt could be for some it really is a blast to play. I would say this is probably better as a rental unless you are a die-hard fan but do need to say this is certainly not one to be ignored or missed.

    Score: 8/10

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