After the huge success of EA Big's NBA Street, it was only a matter of time before more companies jumped on the band wagon to deliver street basketball games. While most just added the "street" element as an extra mode, the fine folks at Black Ops Entertainment under the direction of Activision decided to create a title that was all "street" from the ground up. The result is the first true street basketball game, Street Hoops. While the game offers every major U.S. street baller and an incredible soundtrack, the controls and over-the-top moves we expected left us feeling a little shallow and wanting a lot more.
The front end of the game is spectacular. Unfortunately, the in game animations could have used more work. Each of the 10 most revered street courts in America including NYC's West 4th Street "The Cage", have been painstakingly rendered right down to every detail including spray paint slogans. They are tasty indeed. The players, while looking half decent, seem as if they move quite awkwardly at times. The animation could use more frames in order to make things smoother. Additional polygons would also have made a difference. Most moves look fine but the crazy moves seen in the famous AND1 videos just do not impact here as they should have. The special moves are too restrictive and quite frankly are a chore to pull off on demand. Another gripe comes in the form of having to press the Select button in order to call a pick. It is just too awkward to utilize properly on the fly.
Activision spared no expense in gathering a fantastic line-up of hip-hop artists including Cypress Hill, Method Man and Redman, Xzibit, DMX, Master P., and Ludacris among others to lend to the game's street authenticity. The sound effects are top notch as are the voice samples that comment regularly on the game and the great and not so great plays.
While the actual control of the game could have used some tweaking, the premise behind each of the modes of play is quite engaging and will keep players busy for hours on end. There are three modes of play: World Tournament, Lord of the Court and Pick-Up Game in either Full Court or Half Court. In the World Tournament, you must travel across America to take on the best team at each court. On your journey, you will unlock the best street ballers, and gain access to more courts which include some nifty hidden areas. Along the way, you will earn cash for each win. It is with your greenbacks that you will begin to gain access to other courts as simply winning is not enough. On the courts money is everything! In Lord of the Court, you play as the Home team and the other teams will come to your crib to challenge you. As you defend different courts, you will unlock AND1 movies and some very surprising secret characters. The Full Court and Half Court Pick-Up games are multiplayer games where you can customize your game as you see fit. Winning games here will also earn you some cash. Not only does money earn you courts, but it also allows you visit the local threads shops and purchase the latest fashions from AND 1, Dada, D-UP, Ecko, Enyce, 57 Fake, Fila and more. Other ways to blow your scratch include a tattoo parlor, pawn shop/jewelry store, bookies and a barber shop. Of course no sports game is complete without a create a player option and Street Hoops does not disappoint here. Create your male or female baller and place them on a team. Use your cash to increase your player's attributes as they mature.
Street Hoops is the most authentic urban basketball title on the market. Although it is still very playable and offers a lot of replay value, one has to ponder how it would have looked and played with a couple of more months development and clean up time. Regardless, if you love street ball, this is the title to engage your friends in hours of non-stop hoops-crazy fun.