NBA Street V3 - Xbox

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NBA Street V3 (Xbox)
Also for: PS2, GameCube
Viewed: 3D Third-person, floating camera Genre:
Sport: Basketball
Media: DVD Arcade origin:No
Developer: Electronic Arts Soft. Co.: Electronic Arts
Publishers: Electronic Arts (GB)
Released: 18 Feb 2005 (GB)
Ratings: PEGI 3+


One IP-widening mutation piloted by industry third party giants Electronic Arts in recent years has been the 'Street' franchise. Part of the EA Big umbrella brand introduced to include the new franchises of SSX et al., the 'Street' moniker has spread to versions of EA’s NFL/Madden portfolio, and a FIFA version is soon to be released. But it was as a variant of their long-running NBA-licensed series that the subtitle first debuted. And unlike the rather more frivolous NFL Street, NBA Street is grounded a little more in reality.

Street Basketball, or Streetball, is a real and equally popular, if less official, version of the sport. In New York basketball mythology, Rucker Park in Harlem and The Cage in Lower Manhattan are every bit as famous as Madison Square Gardens. Big Streetball games at any of New York’s famous courts have been known to draw bigger crowds than some Knicks games. Just as Michael Jordan is a league-personifying hero to NBA fans, ‘The Goat’ is an equally legendary figure for Streetball devotees. On the opposite coast of the USA, Los Angeles has a Streetball scene to match New York’s, and Atlanta and Miami are big centres too.

But why do flashy basketball spin-offs from EA look like NBA Street V3 now, when in 1994 they looked like NBA Jam? Streetball has been getting more mainstream exposure and this has not escaped the notice of the marketing svengalis at EA. Basketball-only sneaker company And 1 has recently popularised the culture with a series of Mixtape Tour DVDs. These in turn started when the company’s owners saw then streetball legend Rafer Alston play and wanted to get him exposure. The plan worked and Alston now plays in the NBA. Other NBA players known for their streetball prowess and who still play in the off season include Stephon Marbury (street name: Starbury) and Allen Iverson. To this day, Jason Kidd and Gary Payton insist they couldn’t hold a candle to their childhood friend, Streetball player Demetrous ‘Hook’ Mitchell, just released from prison. The And 1 Mixtape DVDs have done a lot for Streetball, to the extent that some players are now even getting paid.

Building on the success of the highly praised series, NBA Street V3 has definitely advanced in terms of content and features. It is still 3-on-3 play, with the ‘gamebreaker’ and tricks that featured in previous games. The way tricks are controlled has been changed – instead of the more limited method of button presses, the right analogue, or Trick Stick is used. Used in conjunction with the usual two Turbo buttons, the eight directions on the stick give players access to more tricks than ever before. Similarly, the gamebreaker mechanic has been given the treatment. You must charge up the gamebreaker by stringing combos together, but once unleashed your player takes to the air and you team-mates get involved as well.

The game boasts 25 NBA players, favourites from past games, the Beastie Boys (who as well as supplying one of the EA TRAX also appear as a playable team!). If that’s not enough, players can also create their own players choosing from more than 1,000 customisable assets. The same philosophy applies to courts – on top of the 12 authentically modelled courts, players can build their own, choosing the location, surface, backboard and net styles. Like this year’s NBA game, there is a dunk competition thrown in too. DJ/streetball player/trainer connoisseur Bobbito even provides the commentary, which also lends some authority to the proceedings. And on Xbox, online play is available for the first time. If you like basketball or basketball video games, NBA Street V3 looks a pretty sure bet.