Every baller started somewhere. Whether they played out west, in the east, or in another country, every pro has a starting place, or in this case, a homecourt. This fact is the basis for EA’s latest NBA street title, NBA Street Homecourt. I can safely say that this game is the best Street title to date. It takes the previous versions and builds on them with new features, better gameplay, and great controls, not to mention the brilliant visuals and animations on the Xbox 360.
Homecourt’s roster of players is the biggest and best yet, and each of them has their story included within the game, which makes for a much more immersed gaming experience. The main man is Carmelo Anthony, whose homecourt is in Baltimore, and there are many, many others. And apart from the standard, over-the-top gameplay you’ve come to know and love, this game does an excellent job of telling the stories of the players through cut-scene type movies. It traces their humble beginnings all the way to the pros, and it really is fun to watch. Surprisingly, playing this game will actually cause you to respect some of these players more, after hearing their stories about their trips to the NBA.
The gameplay in Homecourt will absolutely not disappoint. EA has taken their proven system from the previous versions and implemented it in a great way. It is easier and more fun than ever to pull off crazy tricks, dunks, and gamebreakers. The controls are now much more intuitive and responsive, and you’ll actually have to think rather than just mash buttons. You’ll have to choose your moves carefully to avoid getting the ball stolen, and the moves you choose will have a direct effect on the outcome of the play. Dunks are obviously the main way of scoring, and they are completely off the wall. You can spring off a teammate’s back from the 3-point line, jump off the rim and do multiple flips, and much more. Hold the button too long though, and you might get caught and bust it on the rim. It truly is fun. Don’t get this game for realism, because you can expect to be flying 20 feet in the air. Defense still seems to be a bit too easy, but I suppose it’s supposed to be that way. By standing under the basket, you can easily block any jumpshot that comes your way. The steal mechanic has been improved however, as you now must time your steals, and there is a risk-reward factor that goes along with it.
Gamebreakers are the highlight of any game you’ll play. Once your point meter fills up, you simply get inside a flashing circle and hit “Y,” and you’re off. All the tricks will be cooler, the dunks bigger, and the more cool stuff you pull off the more points you’ll get for the bucket. Get the ball stolen, however, and your opponent can steal your gamebreaker points (you can do the same thing to the computer).
The visuals of Homecourt are a big positive for the game. The players are very realistic, and the courts contain great detail and design. You can tell that the power of the Xbox 360 is being well utilized. The game runs very smoothly, and you won’t find any hiccups hitting you in this game.
As far as game modes, you’ll have several different options to choose from. The main mode is Homecourt Challenge, where you’ll take a baller from a humble beginning all the way up to the top of the Street world. You’ll have to play games with all kinds of rules, like dunks only, shots only, etc. You’ll spend the bulk of your time here. There is also the pick-up, quick play mode, where you’ll pick teams and go, a practice mode, and Xbox Live. Xbox Live gives you plenty of achievements to unlock, and you’ll find that it plays very smoothly.
The sound in Homecourt is spectacular. From the excellent narration of the players’ tales to the on-the-court trash talk, the sound is awesome. The sound effects fit the genre perfectly, and the music stays true to basketball with plenty of upbeat hip-hop most of the time. The game is a treat to listen to.
If I have one complaint, it is the lack of classic players that were present in earlier Street titles. You won’t see Dr. J or Wilt the Stilt in this game. Too bad, but when that’s the only complaint, we’ve got a winner.
I recommend NBA Street Homecourt to any basketball fan. It’s a great game with fantastic gameplay and top-notch visuals and animations. The stories of the basketball players are a huge bonus, and will have you immersed before you know it. EA has another street winner, and as far as Street’s transition from last-gen to the 360? Success.