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NBA Street V3: PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, PSP (Street Showdown)

NBA Street is back

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

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NBA Street V3

NBA Street V3

Rated: E for Everyone
NBA Street V3 brings back the series after a two year break. The first game was a knockout, the second made minor improvements, and the third... well, NBA Street V3 does nothing but bring greatness to the series. For those of you unfamiliar with the series, think NFL Blitz, but basketball.

The game features over the top three-on-three street basketball. This year online play and the new 'trick-stick' add depth and re-playability to the game.

Slammin' and Jammin'

As much as I enjoy sports games, basketball videogames just haven't been the same since NBA Jam bowed out. The big heads, flaming feet, absurd shot blocking, it was what videogames were supposed to be, fun. Now don't get me wrong, the level of detail and the design of games like NBA Live is superb, but they lack that 'pick-up-and-play' that NBA Jam offered.

NBA Street V3 brings the 'game' back to basketball. Three on three is fast and easy to control. I get to play with NBA superstars or with my own avatar, who looks eerily like me, but with corn-rows. I get to soar and score. I get to perform ridiculous monster dunks over huge defenders. This is what I want in an action sports game, action and lots of it. Luckily, NBA Street V3 delivers the goods.

Looks will take you far in life

NBA Street V3

Spectacular Dunks are the Key to Earning Respect

NBA Street V3
Graphically, NBA Street V3 is solid. The menu and interface have a seventies urban flair to them. Lots of orange and brown. The courts themselves have a similar feel, especially at night. The haze effects and ambient lighting add a sense of atmosphere that I didn't expect from a basketball game where five-foot tall women dunk with the best of them.

The character models are not nearly as exaggerated as the NFL street series, and for the most part, they move fluidly and look sharp. Unfortunately, the amount of shading can make details hard to make out and without consistent uniforms it can be easy to confuse characters.

On the sound front, EA BIG serves up plenty of licensed music, accompanied by excellent sound effects. The clang off the backboard while the Beastie Boys is blaring is pure aural joy. Unfortunately, the Chris Rock wanna-be commentator is annoying at best. Once my shot was referred to as 'delicious as whole grain bread'... yeah nothing gets me pumped up like whole grain bread does... except maybe raisin bagels, I sure do love raisin bagels. Additionally, he can get quite repetitive, after the fourth time, I quickly grew tired of being told to 'give it up for the DJ'.

Keep your eye on the ball

The biggest improvement this year is the Trick Stick. Like many of the sports games EA has put out in the last year, the right analog stick is now used for tricks, steals, and blocks. Previously this was handled by a variety of buttons, and you still can use square and triangle, if you prefer. Honestly thought, once you touch the Trick Stick, there's no going back. It gives you eight tricks, and that is double and tripled depending on your use of turbo.

Normally, I find having dozens of tricks available daunting, but the Trick Stick made incorporating slick fakes and fancy ball handling feel natural and they were a much bigger part of the game for me this time than in previous versions.

Of course, what would a 'Street' game be without Gamebreakers? In NBA Street V3 once you charge up a meter by performing tricks, steals, blocks, and anything special you are entitled to a Gamebreaker. Once you activate your Gamebreaker (usually an amazing dunk) you gain points and your opponents lose a couple, you also play better and have more turbo. Unlike NFL Street, activating a Gamebreaker does not necessarily mean you will dominate the court, but it is a tremendous help.

Basketball a la mode

NBA Street V3

Customizing Shoes... Finally Live Out Your Foot-Locker Fantasies

NBA Street V3
Another improvement in NBA Street V3 is the variety in game modes, in addition to online play the Street Challenge (think franchise mode) has been drastically overhauled. You have a set number of days to take your created player to the top. The places you can play is limited by your reputation. Additionally, games are not standard. Most games offer 1 point for dunks and shots, and 2 for long distance shots. There are also races to see who gets a Game Breaker first, in addition to a variety of other modes.

Of course the character customization has been overhauled and is deep and fun. More impressive is the ability to customize attire and build custom shoes. I spent an hour design some sick Adidas high-tops.

At the Buzzer

NBA Street V3 is not only an amazing basketball game, but a solid game period. The level of detail, sheer number of customizable features, and addictive gameplay have earned NBA Street a spot near the top of my stack of games. The only real fault I have with the game is load times. I know there is only so much that can be done, but I hate waiting for my action. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go show Kevin Garnett what's what.

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