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NBA Ballers Review

NBA Ballers is Midway’s newest one-on-one basketball game to bring you the unique NBA lifestyle that is officially licensed by the NBA and NBA Legends. So lace up your shoes and let’s go shoot some hoops.

As you start NBA Ballers you see a number of game play modes including Quickplay, Practice, 1 vs. 1 vs. 1, TV Tournament, Rags to Riches, Versus, and Inside Stuff. There are 5 difficulty levels from Pretender to NBA Baller; Got Skills the middle of the road setting comes as default.

Quickplay allows you to just jump into versus game. You select how many people are playing and the game automatically selects players and venues. With Practice you pick a baller and an opponent and you can practice until the cows come home. This is a great way just to learn all the moves and how to perform tricks. This game goes on forever, there is no end, you can run the score up to a million if you want to. 1 vs. 1 vs. 1 is the 3 player mode. All 3 players pick a player then select an arena. The first one to 11 wins. You can also play against 1 or 2 CPU players.

Prior to Versus and 1 vs 1 vs 1 you can enter special codes just before the match for Big Head (1-3-4), Paper Ballers (3-5-4), Unlimited Juice (7-6-3), and Baby Ballers (4-2-3). In order to do this you must press the Y button, B button, then X button as many times as stated. There are plenty more codes besides these.

In TV Tournament you unlock NBA players by winning tournaments. When you win a tournament you unlock the player at the top of the ladder in that tournament. Each episode has its own set tournaments, opponents and prizes. TV Tournament has 19 different level tournaments with a ladder of players that you must beat with 4 to 7 players per tournament. With your winnings you can buy unlockable items like new friends, rides, cribs and more to make you the big man of the game. You get to pick from the whole stock of players when you play this mode. One thing I did notice with this mode was the first 4 or 5 tournaments are somewhat easy but after that it gets a lot harder and you only get so many tries to finish each tournament before you have to start over again.

Rags to Riches is NBA Ballers career mode where you can create your own baller and play games to earn credits and prizes. You create a player with a ton of options ranging from hair, skin color, height, weight, outfit, and nickname and then distribute some attribute points for shooting, defense, rebounding, steals, put backs, dunks and so on. Once you have these all picked out, you are then dropped into the ultimate reality TV show. This is made up by the executives of the big TV network who tells how you, a no name player can become part of the big time if you’re good enough. It is along the lines of TV Tournament, except games are broken up into episodes. You must get out and prove your worth week after week. As you beat opponents each week, you get better and better and add to your attribute points each week you win. Your points will be determined by how well you do on the court. You can also add to your rewards with things like shoes, shirts, glasses, new cars, and friends. The game includes a phrase-ology feature so you can enter codes to phrases such as, “Euro Crib”, “NBA Ballers Rules” and “Dunk Fest” and unlock some other players, gear, a special movie and courts.

There are a total of 84 players you will ultimately be able to choose from with 60 current players and 24 legend players. Only 25 are available at the start of the game. Some of the big name stars are Julius Erving’s ( Dr. J ), Darryl Dawkin (Chocolate Thunder), George Gervin, Larry Bird, Wilt (the Silt) Chaimberland, Clyde (the Glide) Drexler, and Karl (the Mailman) Malone along with well know stars of today like Yao Ming, Shaquille O’Neal (Shaq), Reggie Miller, LeBron James (the King), and Chris Webber. Each player has his own specialties and attributes. Some have more speed, power, dunking, and ball handling and so on. You can pick players from the Eastern or Western division.

As far as gameplay there are some basic rules when playing NBA Ballers. Most games are to 11 and you must win by 2. There are some different games in Rags to Riches mode; if you play to 11 you only have 2 minutes to win, so it’s the first one to 11 or whoever has the most points when the time runs out. Matches are whoever wins best 2 out of 3. There is a shot clock so you just can’t sit on the ball to win. There are other games like holding your opponent to under 8, 5 and 3 points, or ‘make it - take it’ which means as long as you score you keep the ball or your opponent does until you stop him. Most of these games happen in TV Tournament and Rags to Riches. All the other games are standard games and rules. There are fouls in the game unless it tells you before the game starts. You have 5 fouls to give and then you or your opponent will shoot foul shots.

Controls for NBA Ballers are not bad once you get the hang of them. Left stick moves, right stick jukes. Right and left triggers are your juice or turbo and special move buttons. The A, B, X, Y, white and black buttons on the controller are for shooting and special moves. Each controls shooting, alley-oop, blocking, rebounding and trick moves as well as backdown moves and passing the ball to your friends on the sidelines. Combine any button except the shooting button with your juice triggers, and you’ll pull off special moves including playground moves such as fake outs, ankle breakers, special shots, and taunts. If you do use the juice buttons with your shot buttons you have a higher chance of making the shot.

These moves are used to build up points in the jackpot; the jackpot is given when you or your opponent scores. With these points you can buy things for your baller cars, clothes, house and so on. As you work your magic of moves you can string more and more moves together getting more points and building your House meter. When the house meter is full you can do a special move Bringin’ Down the House and end the game right there. The main reason the game ends is because you break the backboard. In some games in Rags to Riches it is the only way you can win and end the match.

If you make three shots in a row you will be on fire. The only way you can stop someone from being on fire is if you score. When someone is on fire they don’t miss very often. One of the most powerful moves are called ‘act-a-fool’ which allows you to do all kinds of street-ball tricks such as dribbling the ball back and forth between your opponent’s legs, throwing the ball up behind your back and over your man. If you anticipate your opponent’s execution of one, you can press A button to counter the move, and you can steal the ball.

Graphics in NBA Ballers are hi-res textures with an in depth amount of customization and a wide variety of smoothly animated street moves. The player models and courts are great also. The players move smoothly even when doing dunks and playground moves. Players sometimes look a little out of proportion but they still look real and are smooth and authentic. When you pull off ‘act-a-fool’ moves the game zooms in close to the action and applies slow motion with a blur effect. Player’s faces are realistic and very detailed. You get a close up look at the detail when you pick a player in the menu. The courts you play at are just as detailed as the players. Most of the courts you play on are at the homes of NBA players. NBA Ballers also supports 720p HDTV. During the game I saw no loss of frame rate. Even before the game starts you see some high quality photographs of the NBA stars which continue as you move through the menus.

Sound is also just as good as the graphics with the use of Dolby Digital 5.1. MC Supernatural does the main theme for NBA Ballers and is your host for the game. He does all introductions of the players and calls all the play-by-plays. The comments become repetitive after sometime but there is only so much you can say, so this is a minor bad point. The soundtrack has a ton of hip-hop big names like Jelly Joe, Buck, Big Gov, Kenny Knox, Jax, and a host of others, 19 in total, but there is no way to selectively remove tracks from the rotation. Basic sound effects include dribbling, bumping, and dunking which all sound realistic. The sounds put you into the game with the crowd cheering and chattering from the sideline and camera shutters going off whenever a player pulls off a big move.

Final Verdict

There is only one downside I see to NBA Ballers; no Xbox Live support. This would have been great to take your created player online to take on some other ballers. The game gets a little frustrating at times and you just have to walk away. NBA Ballers requires some patience in the tournaments. The computer could ease up a bit, it is very hard at times. It can go on a run without missing and stops you from scoring to come back and win. It reminds me of NBA Jam. NBA Ballers looks great and plays great also. Overall, NBA Ballers offers a great gameplay for fans of the NBA with some streetball culture which adds a lot of replay value and fun. Midway did a great job combining a street style with great game play and a ton of unlockables for a very unique basketball experience.


8.5 out of 10

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Related Information

Posted by: z36
Date: June 16, 2004
Publisher: Midway
Developer: Midway
Release Date: 04/05/2004
Genre: Sports
Number of Players: 1-3
ESRB Rating: Everyone
System Reviewed: Xbox

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Categories: Xbox Reviews, PlayStation 2 Reviews, Xbox, PlayStation 2

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