Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Video game number three hundred and twenty seven: NBA Jam

Video game review number three hundred and twenty seven in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "NBA Jam"

No, this is not a review of the hit SNES game from 1994, there's a brand new game in town for the Xbox 360 (as well as the PS3 and Wii) and I had to try it out on launch night. This one does NOT disappoint.

One of the best things about the old NBA Jam games was that they were simple. Two on two basketball meant you didn't have to worry about passing to the right guy or setting up the proper defense. You simply picked a couple of the stars from your favorite team and had fun playing some extraordinary back and forth basketball.

The new game doesn't mess with the old formula. It's still two on two, it's still big stars (plus unlockable characters), and the goal is still to get as many baskets in a row as possible, trying to become "On fire". Once you reach that status, you can jump higher, shoot from further away...and of course, burn the basket with your fire ball. A smoke trail follows every shot. It's actually kind of awesome.

My first few games took place in the offline campaign. First, I took the tutorial and learned the new ropes. You can control the game with the sticks, or you can use the buttons. I went for the old school control, although I did give both methods a very fair try. I picked the Lakers (because they're the best team on my coast these days) and took them through the first series of 5 games. It was pretty easy to beat my opponents, although I did face a few tough moments where the computer had a lead and I had to recover. Eventually, I beat the entire Atlantic Division. There are 4 or 5 more divisions to tackle before you've unlocked everything.

I decided to try my hand at online play, but my opponent had clearly been playing the game for longer than the few hours I had spent with it, and he thoroughly kicked my ass. I was given a few "points" anyway, and my online profile was ranked up. I'll play some more offline before trying that again, but I like that there's a persistent profile to keep you playing.

Overall Score? 8/10. Easily my favorite basketball game in recent memory. It's fun to pick up and play, and to me...that's the kind of sports game I like. A lot of other games try to go the realism and simulation route, and that's all good...but sometimes, you just want to play a quick match on the couch with your buddies. That's the kind of game this will be.

Achievements? Only a few so far...but I'll keep playing.

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