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.


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


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


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.