Thursday, March 22, 2012

NBA Ballers

NBA Ballers
NBA Ballers
by Midway Entertainment
Platform:   PlayStation2
4.2 out of 5 stars(52)

Buy new: $9.99
120 used & new from $0.01

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This isn't just a game about basketball. It's about the NBA lifestyle and the pursuit of becoming rich and obnoxious. Through a mode dubbed Rags to Riches, gamers will make the journey from no-name street baller to the king of the NBA court. Whether you're dropping dimes at Kevin Garnett's residence, breaking ankles on Scottie Pippen's yacht, or making legends look like punks at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, you'll gain respect and the ever important bling bling that comes with it. By winning tournaments, you'll procure cash that can be used to purchase clothing, tattoos, and vehicles.

Going into this review, I really didn't know what to expect from this lifestyle angle. Truth be told, I was convinced that it was going to be one of the cheesiest things I've ever laid eyes on. Thankfully, Midway went out of its way to make this experience thoroughly engrossing, highly interesting, and above all, rewarding to the player. Not only does it give you a glimpse of the players' lives, it delivers a story (yes, this is a sports game with plot), and brings out the collector in you. The number of unlockable items isn't nearly as extensive as I would have hoped (especially in character and crib customization), but you usually find yourself unearthing things of value – like hidden players and videos that give you a behind-the-scenes look at the NBA.

The action on the court is equally as impressive. Basically take the setting of Julius Erving and Larry Bird Go One-on-One and insert the high-flying gameplay of NBA Street into the mix. The controls are silky smooth, the computer opponents prove to be extremely skilled, and the moves that you can perform would make a Globetrotter stare in amazement. Not only can you bounce the ball off of your opponent's face (which gives you a split second to break for the hoop), you can use their back as a springboard, and toss the ball to a friend stationed courtside to set up an alley oop.

From a technical standpoint, I absolutely love how the ball cursor is used for rebounding. The realism that accompanies stealing is equally as handy. In other hoops titles, I always find myself jamming on the steal button to try to knock a ball out of a player's hands. In this game, loose balls are not randomly decided. If you get your hand on the rock at the opportune time, you'll strip it free. On a negative note, I don't like how the Act a Fool dekes are randomly produced. I often found that the moves my player would perform would go against my drive.

All told, my complaints are few and my praise is high. NBA Ballers is a fresh spin on the NBA that brings great depth, dynamic gameplay, and fevered multiplayer to the video game court.

The Edge

Both versions of Ballers excel in different ways. Online gameplay is exclusive to the PlayStation 2. Given the intensity of the one-on-one play, talking trash through the headset is sweet thing. While the Xbox lacks online, it lights up the screen with amazing HDTV support. It's a beautiful game to begin with, but viewing it in 480p or 720p is truly a sight to behold.

Combine the grit of street ball with the flash of MTV Cribs to create a unique and rewarding one-on-one basketball experience

A visual slam dunk that features realistic character models and unbelievable animations

An excellent collection of underground rap tracks and a catchy theme song by DJ Supernatural

Finely tuned, perfectly balanced, and incredibly responsive. Ballers' gameplay is right where it needs to be

It's a great multiplayer experience, and the bevy of unlockable content gives single player legs


Rated: 8 out of 10
Editor: Andrew Reiner
Issue: May 2004

2nd Opinion:
I must admit that I was a little wary of a b-ball game that only featured one-on-one play, but Midway's NBA Ballers is surprisingly engaging. The play mechanic is solid, with silky smooth controls that offer great battles against both human and computer opponents. I would have liked to see some more variety in the move set, and more depth in the lifestyle content (tours of the homes or yachts you play at would have been nice, and I wish I could have designed my own MTV-worthy crib), but what's here is more than enough to please most NBA fans. The lack of online play for the Xbox version is a complete bummer, but in the end it doesn't really matter, as the online play isn't as engrossing as I had hoped. If you have to choose, go Xbox just for the high-definition support, but either version will entertain.

Rated: 7.75 out of 10
Editor: Andy McNamara

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NBA Ballers delivers the pure essence of basketball, with the excitement of playing against the game's greatest - and the thrill of living an NBA star's life! Play wild one-on-one games with world-famous b-ball stars, and earn money for the hottest homes, cars and clothes.

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