reviews\ Dec 10, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Street Hoops - GC - Review

Extreme basketball games have been a hot commodity ever since the release of NBA Jam in the early 90s.  NBA Jam was the first of its kind, featuring faster, innovative gameplay, very few rules and some of the coolest slam-dunks ever seen in a video game.  Jam also led the way for extreme hockey, soccer, football and baseball games.  Years later, EA BIG Sports topped Midway's masterpiece with NBA Street, a highly-addictive street baller with cool, fictitious players, real street courts and a number of impressive play mechanics.  Now Activison is attempting to top EA with Street Hoops.  Have they succeeded?  Let's just say that if both games were battling it out on the court, Street Hoops wouldn't be able to jump high enough to score.

Street Hoops is essentially a watered-down, rule-filled version of NBA Street.  It's played from NBA Live's perspective with more players and a set of standard basketball game camera angles, but the gameplay is very NBA Street-ish.  Or at least it tries to be NBA Street-ish.  That's the main problem with Hoops.  From the very start it feels like it wants to be something that it's not, completely forgetting its own identity.  For this reason alone, Hoops is less appealing because it lacks anything new to draw the player in.

But that's not the only thing that's bad about Hoops.  Unoriginality is acceptable every now and then if the gameplay is as good as the title that "inspired" it.  However, Hoops not only copies other games, but it plays slower then them, too.  I don't mind if simulation sports titles are a little slow, but extreme sports games should never provide anything less than a fast, over-the-top, exciting experience.  Hoops fails to deliver in that aspect, trading speed for the complete opposite.  Much to my dismay, this results in a very mellow game playing experience.  Being mellow isn't necessarily a bad thing, but here it definitely isn't a good thing.

Then there's the rules.  "Wait a minute, did you say rules?"  Yeah, I sure did.  Street Hoops has too many of them.  Some can be turned on or off, while others, like "out of bounds," are pre-selected by the game and cannot be changed.  I know it'd be unfair to hog the ball, so a shot clock seems logical, but isn't that what street play is all about?  In real street games there are no refs, giving the players the option to make up whatever rules they want.  Another thing I could have done without is the "out of bounds" rule.  Why should I be forced to give up the ball just because I shot it past the line?  This is a fantasy video game where anything goes.  Or at least that's what it's supposed to be.

Polygon replicas of real street courts, such as Rucker Park (in New York City) and Venice Beach (in Los Angeles).  Although not nearly as pretty as most other GameCube games, the courts get the job done without displaying any ugly material.  Players, on the other hand, look as though they were created using a 3D modeler for the Dreamcast.  They don't look bad, per se, but they don't look very realistic either, and the animation is not always smooth enough to handle the complex movements of a street baller.

Street Hoops does have one advantage over the competition: a four-player multiplayer mode.  Granted, the gameplay isn't impressive enough to make the game worth purchasing, but this is the only extreme basketball game available that allows four players to ball out their differences simultaneously.  If you've got four controllers and at least three friends, Street Hoops is a good way to kill a weekend or two's worth of time.

Reviewer's Scoring Details

Gameplay: 5
When two beautiful people have a child, it is assumed that that child will grow up to be beautiful.  That is the theory behind Street Hoops' gameplay.  If NBA Live and NBA Street had a kid, the results would be magnificent, right?  Not in this case.  Street Hoops plays too much like a simulator where it shouldn't (slower speed, too many rules, etc.), but fails to deliver the depth that a simulation sports game can offer.

Graphics: 5 
The main problem with Street Hoops' graphics is that they don't look entirely like a next-generation game.  They were dated enough on PS2, but they look even older on GameCube, a console that contains around 30% more power than Sony's console.  That extra power was not used to enhance the game's visuals in any way.

Sound: 4
Street Hoops features a licensed soundtrack from many popular artists, including Ludacris, DMX and Xzibit.  Good if you like rap, bad if you don't.

Difficulty: Easy
There isn't much of challenge involved here.  Just steal the ball, slam-dunk and repeat the process until the game is over.

Concept: 4 
Street Hoops would be a lot better if it wasn't such a "BIG" rip-off.  EA BIG Sports took the genre to a new level, and it's a real shame that this game couldn't take it even further.

Multiplayer: 5.9
Street Hoops' saving grace isn't quite graceful enough to raise its status, but it makes it worth a rental.

Overall: 5
If you like your basketball games to be a bit mellow, Street Hoops would be a nice addition to your collection.  But if you prefer a street baller that actually plays like a street baller, there are better options out there than this.


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