reviews\ Aug 28, 2002 at 8:00 pm

Street Hoops - XB - Review

There are two ways of playing b-ball: one is in a stadium setting with dozens of rules to answer to and the other way is playing in the street with all the NBA regulations thrown out the window.  Street Hoops takes the game to the asphalt where the real kings of the court play.


Street Hoops features five playing modes: Quick Start, World Tournament (the main mode), Lord of the Court and Full Court and Half Court Pick-Up Game mode. World Tournament takes you all over the globe while Lord of the Court has you defending your court against rival teams.  And the Pick-Up Games allows you to mix and match teams and players anyway you see fit.


The game’s controls are not as complicated as one would expect and this is a good thing considering that the game is played using street rules. There are no substitutions or technical fouls here and no one is ejected out of the court if they foul too much.  Although total chaos does not rein supreme, the lack of NBA regulated rules feels liberating.


Still, even with this freedom the game looses control.  The computer-controlled opponents are not a lively bunch and often fall prey to the same tricks.  You can also just as easily swat the ball away from them and run down the court with little resistance.  And while some teams are a bit more challenging, but the challenge feels tame compared to games like NBA 2K2.


Winning a game rewards player with money they can use to purchase brand name clothing and gear in the FootAction store. You can buy things like shirts, shorts, headgear and even sunglasses (who plays b-ball in sunglasses?). You can also blow your money in the tattoo parlor and the barbershop (where the most expensive hairdo is an Afro) and there’s even a pawnshop where you can purchase gold chains and wristwatches.  You won’t believe how elaborate things can get when you’re given so many choices.


The game’s multiplayer mode allows four gamers to play together in the five playing modes and the best part is that you can choose to play on the same team against the computer opponent or play a two-on-two game.  The fun part is going through World Tournament mode as a team, going up against all the opponents and earning cash enough for you and your friends to alter the players.


At a glance, Street Hoops has graphics that are decent enough but, in the long run, could have been a lot better.  The courts are designed so scrupulously that anyone that has seen these courts and cages would instantly recognize them.  Backgrounds contain people watching the game with great interest as behind them clothing endorsement banners flap with the breeze.  And the players, many of them known street stars such as Booger and Half-Man Half-Amazing, do look good while slam dunking or putting their fancy feet to work.


The game is saturated with a lively soundtrack composed mainly of hip-hop performers like DMX, Xzibit and Ludacris and the music does work.  You can also change the songs during the game in the Pause menu so you can choose from the dozen or so songs.  The background sounds are filled with loud chatter and fierce trash talk that is dished out to you or you can dish it out with the press of a thumbstick button.


Street Hoops is a game that had a lot of potential but somewhere along the line it totally lost track of the reason gamers and sports fans like myself would like to play basketball to the extreme level.  Still, the game has its share of fun moments and could be worth your while until something better comes along.


#Reviewer's Scoring Details


Gameplay: 7.0
The controls are the kind you pick up and play and its easy exhibiting all those fancy moves such as Teabag (dunking over somebody) or any of the various dunks.  There’s even a button to taunt your opponent or celebrate (which is seen as a funny in-your-face gesture). Yet flaws in defensive plays are noticeable and that brings this game down.


Still it is difficult to capture this intensity but Street Hoops made a somewhat worthy attempt.  The game allows players to knock a ball away from an opponent or bump him aside--all things that would be considered foul moves had this been a game regulated by the NBA.  Although you still can’t completely play the game without some rules and this mostly applies to out-of-bounds calls or infractions like holding on to the ball too long.


Graphics: 7.3
Visually the game could have been a little better considering the Xbox’s accelerated graphics capabilities but compared to the PS2 you’ll find the game is slightly more polished.  The courts are all nicely done and amazingly so much like the actual courts such as the one in Venice Beach, California and Shakespeare Park in New Orleans, Louisiana (and since I’m from there I can clearly say that they captured the court down to the last detail).


The players do move realistically and many of them look good . . . although you can’t help but feel that they could have been a lot better. The replays of the slam-dunks, however, are something to admire, though. And oh boy are you HDTV owners in for a surprise when you find out this game makes brilliant use of this visual technology.


Sound: 8.0
A wide assortment of hip-hop tunes are at your disposal and if you like Cypress Hill and Method Man and Redman then the soundtrack will definitely please.  However, if the soundtrack isn’t your kind of thing, you can lower the volume and raise the volume of the ambiance, the crowd and the trash talk.


There’s an announcer in the game (the most prominent voice being that of Los Angeles morning radio personality Big Boy) but no running commentary for the game . . . a sort of blessing in disguise since all the announcer does is break out in stereotypical phrases that are heavy on the slang. It sounds forced and unnecessary.


Difficulty: Medium
Street Hoops isn’t as challenging as it should be and blame can be placed on the shoddy AI of the opponents.  They seldom make mistakes and rarely miss the basket but the frustrating thing is that they all fall for the same tricks over and over again.  Knocking away the ball is like stealing candy from a baby . . . a really tall baby.


Yet all is not completely bad, the game picks up the further you advance in World Tournament mode and the one-on-one and two-on-two in the Full Court or Half Court Pick-Up mode proves to be more challenging in terms of playing style.  In a simple on-on-one, it’s all about putting your defending and attacking style to work.  You can also change to difficulty setting from Scrub to Balla to G.O.A.T (Greatest Of All Time).


Concept: 8.0
Those who don’t think great basketball is being played in the streets hasn’t been to a game in the courts of Venice, Beach. They haven’t witnessed the enthusiastic energy and amazing footwork of those players that play the game for the love of it rather than for ultimate fame and fortune.  Many of the street players can put many of today’s NBA stars to shame.


The Create-A-Baller mode isn’t as elaborate and while you can’t choice race or alter a player appearance dramatically, you can choice the gender, height and playing style.  Integrating your player is simple but it would have been fun having more choices available to you during the creation process.


Multiplayer: 8.3
Up to four players can play through the five playing modes and slam on one another or team up against the computer-controlled opponents.  Either way, this is where the game truly shines.  Teaming up is always a great way to involve all of your friends to participate as a fully functional team playing against the odds.


Overall: 7.1
While not an entirely bad game, Street Hoops misses the mark completely and doesn’t fully capture the passion of an authentic street game. Still, the Xbox version does offer tighter graphics and a slightly smoother frame rate so the game doesn’t stutter and slow the action down.  This one is clearly a rental so I suggest you do so before thinking about purchasing it.


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