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Platform

Xbox 360

 

Genre

Sports

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

EA Canada

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

February 20, 2007

 

 

- Noticeably improved graphical performance, including lifelike players

- Improved and easier-to-learn controls really make NBA Street Homecourt the penultimate streetball game

- Revamped Game Breaker and all-new Trick Remixer push the gameplay into legendarily excellent territory

- Eliminating the sideline MC with his irritating trash talking and oftentimes-inane commentary is a most welcome change

 

 

- Took away all the old-school ballers from previous games, so now I can’t play with my Philadelphia 76ers hoop heroes of my youth: Oh, where have you gone, Dr. J, Moses Malone and Charles Barkley?

- Since I grew up in the 80s, I have (or should I now say had?) an affinity for Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit” song that plays each time the Game Breaker is activated, but it starts to get nails-to-the-chalkboard annoying after hearing it for the 100th time

 

 

Review: NBA Street V3 (XB)

Review: NBA Ballers (XB)

Review: NCAA March Madness 07 (360)

 

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NBA Street Homecourt

Score: 9.5 / 10

 

Each and every National Basketball Association player has a story to tell about how they made it to the pros. No matter if they played throughout the U.S. of A. on the East Coast, West Coast, deep down South or the Midwest, or even in far-away Europe , each has a homecourt where they learned the game of basketball. These origins of the NBA’s best are the inspiration for the newest NBA Street title from Electronic Arts’ BIG Sports NBA Street title, NBA Street Homecourt, on the Xbox 360. This is the fourth rendition of the franchise, and it certainly is the best, taking the exciting and enjoyable over-the-top baller action of the previous three NBA Street games and injecting many new gameplay features, tighter and easier-to-implement controls, and stellar new graphics via the Xbox 360 including 60-frames-per-second animations.

 

nba street homecourt          nba street homecourt

 

There are plenty of players involved within the storylines of NBA Street Homecourt (including a handful of WNBA gals), each with their own homecourt tale to tell, from Rasheed Wallace in Philadelphia, to cover-athlete Carmelo Anthony in Baltimore, to many, many others too numerous to mention. Previous NBA Street games have been over-the-top, arcade-style titles, with unrealistic physics at work that admittedly produced incredibly amazing NBA Jam-style gameplay that thrilled the basketball-gaming masses. Yeah, that same gameplay still’s the predominant feature that one would expect, but there’s also an unanticipated feature, too. NBA

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Street Homecourt really tells an amazing tale throughout. The stories of NBA players are told at an almost documentary-quality level, so you’ll see how that after these players have made the “bigs” they’ve never forgotten where they came from or the homecourts the mastered their court craft on. I didn’t expect this from playing a video game, but I now have a new respect for many of these players after listening to the narrator talk about how many rose from very, 

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very humble and sometimes-downtrodden beginnings to rise to the lofty heights of a professional basketballer, while giving back to the very source of those origins.

 

Upgraded significantly is the graphical presentation of NBA Street Homecourt from NBA Street V3. Much more realistic-looking players (although they still have a shiny plastic glaze appearance once again) and highly detailed courts are really impressive using the next-gen power of the Xbox 360. I haven’t personally been to any of the courts that are represented in NBA Street Homecourt, but I would imagine that if I did visit them, they would be instantly familiar based on simply playing NBA Street Homecourt.

 

Gameplay is also upgraded, or it could just be that this time around it’s much easier to perform tricks and Game Breakers with an ease that wasn’t always a part of the gameplaying experience of previous NBA Street titles.

 

The controls have a much further responsiveness, moving away from the button-mashing exercise that it used to be to a more defined control schematic on offense that makes it much easier to actually understand what actions will result from your button pushing. Defensively, it’s too easy to disrupt your opponents dribble and get plenty of steals and too many shots can be blocked by hovering under the basket, wait for the shot to go up and leap high above the backboard to block it. Using two trick buttons, the new Trick Remixer makes it a lot more fun to play NBA Street Homecourt, as you’ll throw all kinds of funky court moves your opponents way, leading to the Game Breaker, again another vastly improved feature.

 

nba street homecourt          nba street homecourt

 

Game Breakers are more easily activated now once you build enough points in the Game Breaker meter. By going to center court into the glowing circle and tapping the “Y” button, you’ll activate the Game Breaker, which allows you to trick out your game and score big points. You can also “steal” Game Breakers from your opponent who has activated it and get the points for yourself (you’ve got to be on guard for your opponent doing the exact same thing to you, too, though).

 

Dunks, which are the very backbone of your scoring opportunities, can be simply amazing, and you can even use one of your teammates as a springboard, rolling off their back from the foul line and skying high toward the basket to net a rim-rattling “did-you-see-that?” dunk. There’s also incredible double and even triple dunks that have your player dunking the ball, flipping through the air around the backboard, catching the ball again, and slamming it a second time (or third, in rare instances) for double (or triple) the points. These total-disregard-for-physics dunks are breathtaking and adrenaline pumping, that’s for sure.

 

Quite a few different modes are available with different types of games, with the main mode being the Homecourt Challenge. You’ll need to pick (or create) a baller from meager beginnings and go from court to court downing teams of NBA stars on your way to becoming a homecourt legend. Games come with different rules, from dunks-only to shots-only, to first to 30 or first team to be leading by three points. There are even tournaments to play in to prove your balling mettle. By mixing up each game’s requirements, the gameplay dribbles away from total repetitiveness. Xbox 360 gamers will also be able to play online via Xbox Live, and are given a bevy of achievements to unlock.

 

Narrating these tales of each particular NBAer is a magnificent and silky-smooth-voiced raconteur that sounds just like acclaimed actor Laurence Fishbourne. If EA ever decided to collaborate with the NBA on a documentary on the story behind each player’s homecourt, I would pay full-price admission solely for this storyteller’s amazing and captivating recounting skills. That couples with the elimination of the sideline MC and his irritating trash talking and oftentimes-inane commentary from NBA Street V3 to instantly improve NBA Street Homecourt in regard to the audio component.

 

Hitting the hardwood along with the great narrating is a spectacular sound component. From the squeaking of the sneakers on the hardwood floors during indoor games to the creaking and screeching metal of the rims, backboards and supports of each court under duress from the unbelievably powerful thunder dunks, to the on-court chatter between the players, NBA Street Homecourt is completely engulfed in pleasingly ear-tickling sounds.

 

Musically, NBA Street Homecourt sticks to its urbanized roots, with plenty of hip-hop taking center stage. However, the old-school Herbie Hancock “Rockit” song that plays during each and every Game Breaker activation will become fingernails-on-the-chalkboard annoying once you’ve heard it play for the 100th time, even if you’re like me and actually like (or is that now liked?) the song to begin with.

 

My one lament in NBA Street Homecourt is the absence of old-school players from eras gone by that appeared in earlier NBA Street titles, so no longer will you be able to see the likes of Wilt Chamberlain or Oscar Robinson or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar hit the hardwood and asphalt. Today’s younger-generation gamer might not care, as they’ll be playing with the stars of today’s NBA, but for older gamers like myself, now I can’t play with my Philadelphia 76ers hoop heroes from my youth: Oh, where have you gone, Dr. J, Moses Malone and Charles Barkley? Although there’s still a Jordan factor involved, as equipment upgrades in the form of Jordan shoes and wear help you increase your rating even quicker.

 

Swish it from way downtown or slam it home with a physics-defying, high-flying double or even triple dunk. Whatever way you score it, NBA Street Homecourt is the best streetball game around, bringing a whole new level of energy and exciting gameplay to the NBA Street franchise.

 

- Lee Cieniawa

lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(March 12, 2007)

 

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