The anticipated sequel to EA BIG’s first over-the-top street basketball game delivers all the same fundamentals that made the original installment a promising product, while adding new features and new tricks to give the sequel an accomplished and polished feeling.
Street Basketball has been on the rise in popularity with the growing exposure of street basketball organization documentaries such as the ‘And 1 All Stars’ frequently making appearances on ESPN and ESPN2. Arguably, NBA Street was the first widely accepted street basketball game in recent memory, as the game ‘Street Ball’ was nothing more than a bomb in every aspect. NBA Street Vol. 2 does the series a great amount of justice with improvement in almost every area. The graphics have received a small overhaul to give the players a more identifiable appearance, and while the detail is nothing compared to most basketball simulations on the market, the game’s arcade look serves the players well while still being able to provide enough detail to give them noticeable qualities. Small player details aside, however, the courts don’t have much of an impressive feel to them, but it fails to detract from the NBA Street Vol. 2’s nature considering that the game is fast paced enough to not notice lack of detail on street ball parks. However, what it lacks in minor detail, it makes up for in quantity. Several featured parks are located in some of the world’s more renowned street ball-oriented cities. Philadelphia, Boston, and New York are just a few among a decent selection. Even though detail is lacking in a lot of areas, there’s still enough to give the parks a unique feeling, but not by much.
Vol. 2’s motion capturing is slightly better than in its predecessor, but while everything looks smooth and lush, the player movements happen very quickly (matching the pace of the game), which makes for a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ sensation. The sound has been upgraded, but mostly through the games commentary. Commentary always has a redundancy issue in any sports game, but providing the announcer with specific things to say about specific players adds to the variety of dialogue you’ll hear during your playing time. Still, though, if you play the game long enough, the commentary will start to become redundant. Howver, you’ll most likely still play the game long after the commentary becomes repetitive, which says a great deal about the game itself. The sound throughout the rest of the game works well, it’s all typical arcade effects. The dribbling and dunking have a more over-the-top and thundering appeal than you’d tend to find in a simulation; this counts for everything including passes off the head, the foot, and the ball rebounding off the rim.
Vol. 2’s game modes are thin on the ground, which makes the game better served for multiplayer purposes. The lack of a franchise mode, season mode, or even a tournament mode, hurt the game, but, in a way, make sense considering the nature its arcade qualities. However, the most basic game modes are still present: Pick up, NBA Challenge, Trick Challenge, and a tutorial mode. The NBA Challenge allows you to travel from conference to conference with a single team in a bid to defeat every opponent, and the game offers three basic difficulty settings to go along with it. The only true reason to actually play through these modes more than once is to unlock the legends and the courts, and there’s nothing sweeter than playing as Larry Bird who, very unfairly, is quite unstoppable behind the arc.
NBA Street Vol. 2 is a great multiplayer experience, and another small perk is the ability to keep track of your basic stats over the course of your games. Wins and losses, winning percentage, blocks, steals, dunks, and trick points. Again, this system is lacking in a very minute manor as it doesn’t keep track of your assists, or your two-point shots. The basic form of stat tracking works for what it is, though, and it helps give the multiplayer feature a higher replay value than it would have had. It’s fun, it’s fast paced, and it’s surprisingly addictive. Fans of basketball will enjoy this title thoroughly, and if you’re not a fan of basketball then such a title might alter your perception of the sport–or it’ll at least persuade you to be a fan of the video game. Sure, it could have used a few more features and some extra detail, but every game could use just a little bit more to help it along. NBA Street Vol. 2 succeeds in many important areas, not least gameplay, and it succeeds convincingly.