Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy
May 3rd 2004

Introduction:Have you ever dreamed of taking your love for a sport and turning it into a million dollars? Well Midway has made a game for all those b-ballers who think they got the skills in 1-on-1 action, and gives them a chance to experience fame and fortune by sinking a few hoops.

The Game:Midway has done a wonderful job of tuning this generation's urban styling and dreams into realities in NBA Ballers. NBA Ballers is an arcade paced 1-on-1 basketball game where you can become champion of the court and make a few bucks while doing so. The focus of the game is on the "Rags to Riches" mode which builds up your nobody wanna be baller into the bling bling master of the court. You don't exactly go from rags, but from your street clothes to beyond simple riches into fame, money and all the trappings of success.

Aside from the Rags to Riches mode NBA Ballers offers other standard modes (Practice, Quick play, versus, 1 vs. 1) and the outstanding "TV Tournament" mode. In the TV Tournament mode you use NBA star players and play quick tournaments to win in game credits and unlock special features. The TV Tournament matches range from standard scoring to customizable rules and help break any monotony from the regular play. Playing through a few TV Tournaments is a great way to get a grip on the game mechanics so you can take over in the Rags to Riches part.

The controls are pretty easy to grasp and will only take a few tries to learn the basics. The game is similar to NBA Street Vol.2 where you gain extra points by using style to score points. There are a number of different tricks to execute while you juke and alley-oop you way to the championship. When you create a custom character you will get so many points to distribute which will add to your player's skill. You can focus your player towards any attribute like stealing and 3 point shots.

NBA Ballers should be appealing to casual and hardcore basketball fans. Midway went over the top to deliver a game that is fun as well as fairly in depth. You can easily play the game without spending too much time with it, but of course those diligent to learn will discover the big style tricks which generate major greens.

Graphics & Sound:The graphics in NBA Ballers are top notch. The character models are excellent and have placed allot of attention on detail, which is a good thing. You have to check out some of the NBA roster to appreciate the high level of detail that they put into duplicating the real life players. Midway has also spent an abundance of time on spicing up the extra's and its shows in the variety of wardrobe options. Its not picture perfect, but NBA Ballers surprises us with its detail and quality.

Can you guess what the music is like in the game? Yip you're right! Hip Hop, Hip Hop and more Hip Hop. Even though the game is great if you're not a fan of beat driven rap you'll be turned away non-existent selection of tunes. It shows that music and sports are closer then ever with the players today. If you play the sport you most likely have a Tribe Called Quest cd in your collection. Overall Midway does an excellent job with the music selection and the use of MC Supernatural for commentary.

Innovation:NBA Ballers surpasses the all other sports games with there range of rewards and sense of accomplishment. I never thought I would play a game trying to buy cribs, cars and friends. Playing NBA Ballers might change someone's perspective on the old saying "money can't buy happiness?" Because these pro b-ballers don't look too sad. It's an innovation and one that has been slowly arising in today's sports games. NBA Ballers brings the bling to the next level.

The other innovation I would like to mention is the great balance of game modes. NBA Ballers has added just enough to keep anyone satisfied. The TV Tournament and Rags to Riches modes are priceless and trust me you will be busy for hours on end sinking hoops. Ballers doesn't give you too much rather a good serving while leaving room for a sequel. The overall gameplay isn't the most innovative, but Ballers rounds the edges nicely.

Mojo:Someone said get the crystal! Its time to drink one on Midway. NBA Ballers has the mojo and should be driving the mojo right to the mothership! You have basketball games, and then you have NBA Ballers. Where isn't the mojo hiding? Safe bet that I am down with NBA Ballers and just where other sports games end, Ballers takes off. The options are great and the one on one, Rags to Riches concept is awesome. Blingin' out with all the big NBA stars is also a treat and landing the Canadian pad of Vince Carter is a dream come true.

Lowdown:NBA Ballers is the type of game that won't be out of your machine for very long. It's over the top style and impressive variety will satisfy gamers need for b-ball action. NBA Ballers should not be overlooked.

Gameplay: 9, Graphics/Sound: 7.5, Innovation: 8, Mojo: 9. Final: 8.5

  • Lifestyle One-on-One Basketball. Only the freshest of the NBA and NBA Legends ball for cars, houses and, most importantly, the reputation as the top NBA baller. Compete in one-on-one tournaments hosted by some of the biggest NBA stars. Compete against multiple competitors in one-on-two, one-on-three and special rules matches.
  • Online B-Ballin' (for PlayStation 2 only).Play as your favorite baller and take on the world in online tournaments and ladder challenges as in-game cash, cars and glory await the victor.
  • 60 Current NBA Stars and 24 NBA Legends. Take control of your favorite players such as Vince Carter, Allen Iverson, Chris Webber, Shaquille O'Neal, Jason Kidd, Kobe Bryant and more. NBA Legends featured include Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Julius Irving, Bill Russell, Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain among others.
  • Realistic Player Attributes and Skills. Each NBA baller and NBA Legend has more than 10 different off-the-hook skills, which determines their player rating, creating a genuine representation of each NBA superstar's mad skills.
  • In-Depth Create-A-Player Mode. Ball as the best! Personalize the game by hooking-up a player with the skills and attitude to take on the best ballers in the NBA. Select from multiple hairstyles, body types, on-court attitudes, gear, shoes, jewelry, planes, cars and your own posse to construct the ultimate one-on-one baller.
  • Stunning Player Art and Animation. From cornrows to afros, one-on-one gameplay allows unparalleled player animation sets, delivering an incredible level of detail and nuances not found in other basketball videogames. Watch players' realistic reactions to intense dunks and amazing blocked shots, whether they perform the move or get embarrassed by it.
  • "Welcome to NBA Ballers! The show takes you inside the spectacular lives of the players as they battle to determine, in intense one-on-one authentic gameplay, who is the best baller in the world."
  • Multiple Game Modes. Take your player from "Rags to Riches" by building your own mansion with winnings, or battle through a ballers tournament to unlock your favorite NBA star and discover his moves, or try to make it through a season in the league, or survive "Last Man Standing" team mode.
  • Featuring in-game commentary by champion freestyle rapper MC Supernatural and on-the-court beats by the renowned DJ Rocky Rock.
  • Explosive Soundtrack -- Features hip-hop, R&B and a hip-hop/rock mix.
  • Amazing 3D Player Models. Set to each player's height, weight, body size and athletic ability based on real life. New 36-point Facial Animation Technology. The most accurately detailed player faces and expressions.
  • 6,000 Poly-Count Player Models. The highest number of polys of any basketball videogame available.
  • Exclusive Midway Sports Asylum Fantasy Lifestyle Courts Fully detailed and structured with beautiful lighting effects and images. Animated sideline characters react to the action on the court in real-time!
  • Lifestyle courts include: Play at Vince Carter's "Toronto penthouse," Jalen Rose's "luxurious Lake Michigan yacht," or Tim Duncan's "pad in the Virgin Islands."

NBA Ballers
April 2004