Street Hoops - PS2 - Review
There is a fine line between those who play for the sake of the game and those who dream about being nothing more than rich superstars. Those who play on the black asphalt show intensity rarely seen and Street Hoops wishes to capture this style of basketball in all its glory.
Gamers take the game to the streets in five playing modes that showcase a bend-the-rules style of playing that is wholly universal. The main mode is World Tournament that takes a player through a number of games throughout the US as well as exotic locales such as Athens’ Acropolis Park and London’s very own Queen’s Park. In Lord of the Court, you defend your turf against any team that challenges you. And the Full and Half Court Pick-Up modes allow you to select your team and park to pit opponents in one-on-one to three-on-three games.
The controls are simple and to the point and since the rules are interestingly altered to match the rules set by the street, the game allows players to get away with such things as slapping a ball away from another player or even pushing him. Technical fouls are also cast aside; making for a game that hardly breaks to catch its breath. Yet this is also where the game fails. Not only can you easily trick players using repetitive moves but the opponent AI is set on only attempting to make slam dunks rather than intelligently attempting to thwart your attempt to score. In other words, where is the defense?
To make matters worse, the graphics are also unappealing to the eye. Sadly you can see how the game’s graphics could have been something else. The basketball players do move wonderfully and their movements are so life-like that you can’t help but admire it, but other then that the player up close looks unreal. Thankfully the parks are a better sight than the players with all the genuine details that you would find in a court.
The sound is also something the game does right and the game is filled with all sorts of background noises that range from admirers cheering to passing planes overhead. You can also hear other players taunt you or praise themselves for having “slammed one in your face.” And the soundtrack is filled with hip-hop tunes from DMX to Xzibit, which does manage to immerse the player in the right atmosphere.
Of course, no basketball game is complete without a good multiplayer option and this is where the game shows its true colors. Eight players, using the Multitap, can be on the screen at once in any of the game’s playing modes. Imagine teaming up with four friends to go up against four other friends in a full court in a game where the rules have gone bye-bye. Enticing, isn’t it?
However, after all is said and done, nothing is more disappointing than knowing that a game like Street Hoops could have been much better . . . or more fun, for that matter. All the right elements are here and are not put to full use, but there are a few things to like . . . such as the multiplayer mode and all those courts and players. Unfortunately, this isn’t enough to satisfy sports fans.
#Reviewer's Scoring Details
The game’s weakness lies in the controls that--while easy to learn--can seem so irritating clunky when trying to defend yourself. Blocking shots, for instance, is easy but on occasion gamers might experience a momentary delay after having pressed the button. The result is getting dunked on, of course.
There is also gambling--which I am sure will raise eyebrows from concerned parents thinking their child will pick up the habit--and a number of ways to alter your player’s appearance in the many stores available such as the local FootAction store or even the Barbershop. Of course, you have to win games to win money or else you couldn’t be able to buy that gold chain to go with your Snoop Dog t-shirt.
The graphics are also one of the game's many weaknesses and sadly they are sometimes too hard to ignore. It’s not so much as the courts and their surroundings--the backgrounds are done rather nicely with awe-struck spectators watching in the wings and passing traffic across the street.
It’s the players that don’t look quite right and that is shameful considering that many of the players are well-known street players like AO and Hot Sauce. They move with such realistic grace that gamers will be amazed and their outfits look great since they come from actual clothing designers, but their expressions never change and you can’t help but be disappointed by the jagged edges found throughout their bodies.
The game makes full use of Dolby Surround and those fortunate gamers that have hooked up their consoles to a decent sound receiver will be amazed by the quality of the sound all around. An interesting hip-hop soundtrack plays throughout the game and you can change it at any point in the game. It features such artists as Cypress Hill or Master P.
And the atmosphere overwhelms the senses with chattering from spectators, squeaking sneakers and the unflattering trash talk. You can hear everything from vehicles driving past and honking their horns to the sounds of some really impressed ladies in attendance. And there is an announcer, but thankfully he keeps his clichéd comments towards the end.
The problem with Street Hoops is that there is no real challenge no matter what difficulty setting you choose (Scrub, Balla or G.O.A.T.). The fault is in the opponent AI that relies heavily on attempting a slam-dunk every time they are in possession of the ball. All a player really has to do is have defender lounge by the basket until said opponent goes in for a slam-dunk and block the shot. And they almost always get the ball knocked out of their hands.
For some reason, the one-on-one game proves to present a much broader challenge that does a three-on-three half quart game. In fact, playing a one-on-one game will give you an indication that this game could have been something completely better if they kept the game with this type of intensity.
Being able to play in street courts all over the world is a rather appealing idea and this game takes you all over the United States from the streets of New York to French Lick, Indiana. There’s a create-a-player option too but it is really not worth mentioning since it lacks a better assortment of details to add to your created player.
Adding gambling to the mix does spice things up a little and gives the gamer the proper amount of motivation to win since you can bet a large amount . . . and once a bet is place you can’t take it back. You can also go to the store and purchase new gear with your winnings or get a tattoo or a new haircut or jewelry. You’ll be spending a long time deciding which jersey goes with your new gold chain.
Thanks to the Multitap--really a great PS2 accessory to own if you love playing in groups--up to eight players can team up in pairs of four and play any of the five playing modes . . . at the same time! It is interesting to see all your friends assume the roll of each basket ball player and be on the screen at the same time. Really, this is the game’s strongest feature.
Street Hoops fails to grasp the raw intensity of a basketball street game or offer something that comes close to a challenge. Fans of basketball will be surely disappointed with this offering and that’s too bad, really, considering there are enough playing modes to choose from. I suggest skipping out on this one and investing it in the much better NBA Street.