Reviewed by Jimmy - 06.19.06
Street Basketball has a new player in the shape of 'And 1 Streetball'. Ubisoft puts their faith in developer, Black Ops to help them break into the tough market of street sports. Read on to find out if they can score those three pointers to be the latest big player on the court.
In the introduction I mentioned the tough market of street sports, well it's not entirely huge, but there are two major players in the basketball genre, mainly EA with NBA Street v1 - 3 and NBA Ballers 1 - 2. Both Street Ballers have their strengths and weaknesses that are comparable and stand out as good fun games. Rather then copy their formula Black Ops have tuned up their own mixture of street ball in And 1 Streetball.
And 1 Streetball is based off the real ESPN televised Mixed Tape Tours which showcases some of the best players from the street who have signed on with And 1. Although this format never reached the hype of the real ballers in the NBA, The And 1 boys have a lot heart and more style then a regular National sanctioned game. I guess that's what Black Ops Entertainment and Ubisoft wanted to capture, in a way they did, and in another ways they didn't.
For those who know about And 1 the 15 trademark players have been duplicated for our enjoyment here a few names. Maybe you've heard of "Hugh Jones - Baby Shaq", "Grayson Boucher - The Professor", or "Robert Martin - 50" All but one is in the NBA, but unless you follow the Mixed Tape Tour they will most likely be new faces.
And 1 Streetball has a number of features first off is the highly customizable create-a-move editor. If the in game moves didn't provide enough variety you can make your own. It's not really important to the game but it is a nice feature which draws you a little more into the game. Slamming my "Downtown Uptown" Slam was pretty satisfying even if it wasn't the flashest move, it was mine.
The next feature is the innovative and frustrating "I-Ball" controls. The I-Ball controls are used when you go to perform tricks. There are three levels and each level amps up in difficulty forcing you to precisely move the analog sticks. Yip, I said "sticks" Most players would be satisfied with the implication of moving on stick around for the tricks, but when you rotating both analog sticks around in opposite directions under pressure, it can get frustrating. The idea behind this system is neat and I credit Black Ops for thinking up something new, but the execution just comes off a little too hard. If you spend enough time with And 1 Streetball I'm sure you will be able to master the trick shots, although I get the feeling most gamers will just throw in NBA Street .
For the story mode your player will slide up the ranks to being signed by the And 1 MixTape Team and performing on the And 1 tour. During you time with And 1 you will visit a total of fourteen courts based on locations around the world. This means B-Ball in Venice Beach, New York , Puerto Rico, London , and so on. The courts are mainly on the outdoor cement and each has its own atmosphere lending itself to its heritage. Mainly in And 1 you will be going city from city playing game after game. Pretty straightforward, then again it's just basketball.
Besides winning games you can also complete side tasks which can help boost you characters stats, give him some fresh ink, or give you the coin to unlock extra awards. The side tasks usually have you performing a number of special shots, or blocking shots, etc... This whole ordeal is a nice bonus, but nothing we haven't seen before.
And 1 Streetball comes up a little short with making an overly complex controls (Mic Chekka) and a slightly dull career path. The coin can be flipped and there is a good side to And 1 and that's the option to play online, and the atmosphere, background history and its flamboyant players the game draws from. In the end the gameplay winds down to being average and unfortunalty not a smooth as some of its competitors.
In the visual category And 1 exceeded exceptionally well even when we had to fire up the good ol' Xbox. The attention to detail is keen down to the players their look and the courts and their surrounding environments. The court sites are really diverse ranging from the sweet sunny courts in Venice Beach, Los Angeles and Miami, to the impressive stature of the Eiffel Tower behind the court in Paris, France. It's only a blacktop, but they have done an admirable job pumped out as much flair as possible. The animations are also polished and fluid and keep your eyes moving with the amount of tricks available. For the graphics And 1 Streetball is a little above average, and does a good job in the last year of the consoles run.
I guess you can already guess the audio side of And 1 Streetball, and if you thought * Hip Hop * you're on the money. Generic? Yes. Good Enough? Sure, I guess. A few new licensed tracks from more popular artist would have been cool, but And 1 has the basis covered. Provide a beat, some fast words, and a nasty key line and you got it. Generic Hip-Hop Basketball soundtrack aside the audio does a good job punching in and out when needed for the big hits. Overall in the presentation I was pleased although the voice over work got a little old, and the variety between West, East, and Down South hip hop can get boring. And 1 Streetball is good, but it would have been more of a treat to have an enhanced pimped out version for the Xbox 360.
And 1 Streetball adds one more player into the growing genre of Street sports. Although based in a real setting of the And 1 Mixed Tape Tour, the game doesn't quite get the fluid motion of the sport to make it memorable. And 1 Streetball should be considered for a rental if you're getting a little sick of your NBA Street game, or want a new diversion for a while. For fans of the And 1 players, you can safely pick this one up. Average would be the word for And 1, but I wouldn't throw Black Ops and Ubi out of the game just yet. A little more polish, reworking of the controls and maybe And 1 Streetball II can play with the big boys.
Game: 6, Graphics&Sound: 7, Innovation: 6, Mojo: 6 Final: 6 / 10