Aussie Ninja spins the spinner and calls the shots
Sat, 7 July 2007
by: Australian Ninja
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Sports games (I'll admit) are not my preferred choice when gaming. There are a few exceptions of course. The occasional motor sport game or perhaps some NBA Jam or on occasion a bit of wrestling perhaps. Certainly nothing too serious that involves paying attention to meaningless things like referees, points or rules. More at home in the fields of Hyrule than I am on the basketball court, firing up AND1 Basketball would hopefully result in some mindless slam dunking to while away the afternoon. But that was not the case…
Now, I don't know what this AND1 business is about - and frankly I don't care enough to look it up on the net - but from the games intro it appears to be street basketball made into an actual sport. I assume it plays on an American pay-TV channel or some such thing, as the game is filled with real life players from this niche sport (streetball), where the players have hip-hop style nicknames.
The players, or should I say 'playas' are full of attitude and the gimmick of the game appears to be fancy showboat moves that require dancing around like a monkey on Prozac. So in a nutshell it's a licensed basketball game based on the real life AND 1 Streetball sport, with flashy moves and ghetto attitude.
The first playing AND1 I thought I'd get some of those original NBA Jam visceral thrills. The kind of excitement generated by spinning impossibly high into the air in a kamikaze dunk that smashes the backboard. You know, crazy shit that nobody could really pull off in real life without a trip to the local hospital ER. Anyway, none of this kind of fun was to be had with AND1.
|Forward passes to center, center passes to forward, holds it, holds it, HOLDS IT! |
While the physical skills of the real life players and their videogame counterparts are most impressive, the actual gameplay and controls are not. The convoluted control scheme and button combinations required to put together the skillz that pay the billz are more of a chore than fun to perform.
In the game, you have your standard career, quick game modes etc. Then you have the create-a-character which is limited and a bit crap. None the less, creating my very own obese African American homeboy with his giant size 'peanut-butter-wig-with-jelly-sideburns' (© Ninja) Afro haircut was my personal highlight in my time with the game. There are some genuinely cool moves (like the self alley-oop) but most of the time when attempting them you mess up and lose the ball to the opposing team.
The showboat moves that make up the core of the game are just pointless and needlessly frustrating to perform. The game is true to it license, but if anything it's at the expense of scarifying simplicity in the gameplay department. The ideas in the game are great, I like it on one level as a concept, but in execution it falls down as being boring and frustrating to play. It's all about image, not playability.
Basically you can try and play the game like any other basketball game, and you may just win here and there. The showboat moves - activated by the likes of pressing the right analogue in a direction, while holding another button, then waggling your left analogue stick like a madman and avoiding the opposing team - without these the game would play more sensibly.
|There was no defense against the armpit odour power move |
But then it would not be true to the spirit of the AND1 sport or whatever it is. The inclusion of the gimmicky moves is a solid idea, I just feel it needed refinement to simplify the controls that way the game would flow smoothly in-game like any good sports game needs to. At the end of the day, even such a great company as Ubisoft turns out a stinker now and then.
To sum up, the career mode has some interesting challenges, and the overall theme of the game is implemented nicely. The things I most enjoyed in the game were the cool animated intro, create-a-character and the music. The soundtrack is quite reasonable, with the typical Hip-Hop / R&B kind of tunes that keep the game vibe flowing between menus, gameplay, options and load screens. I just found the core gameplay mechanics too frustrating and distracting. Give me the same game with simpler controls and I'd still be playing it. As it is, I couldn't wait to move onto reviewing another game; that's never a good thing, (when you have to struggle to pay attention).
There's nothing wrong with it that you can notice - it just wasn't fun for me to play. While I have a bias in not following any sports, I do have a soft spot for Basketball games and no matter your console of choice, there's never going to be a lack of basketball games, so do you really need this one? For the niche audience that may actually know what AND1 represents - or even what the sport of streetball is - you have a game that is faithful to the license and is very playable. It's just that so many other games have already done what this game does, but better. (E.g. Barkley: Shut Up and Jam, NBA Jam, NBA Live etc)
by: Australian Ninja
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If you want to play an average basketball game, then look no further