"One of the best arcade basketball games ever is set for a return"
Way back in the SNES days, there were a few games on that system that truly stood out for me, NBA Jam being one of them. Personally I'm not the biggest fan of basketball but NBA Jam was just too much fun to play to ignore. Later this year, it returns on the Playstation 2 and Xbox and from what we can tell it hasn't lost any of its charm.
NBA Jam will have some significant differences the older games. Instead of being two on two basketball, three players form each team and this will obviously affect the flow of the game. In the original fast breaks were common but with three players, a more strategic standpoint will have to be employed. The franchise is now also using a full 3D engine giving significantly better graphics, as is to be expected given the other games are almost a decade old.
NBA Jam will feature all the current NBA teams, players and arenas. In the original NBA Jam, each game was played in a generic arena, but in this updated version, you play in arena's such as the Staples Centre and Madison Square Garden. As well as the current players, fifty of what the developers deem to be the greatest NBA players of all time will be included for a Legends Tournament.
Legends Tournament will be one of the major drawcards for NBA Jam . Players will begin in the 1950's (including details such as old style clothing, music, hairstyle and commentary) and progress through to the 1990's each time playing against legends from that specific period. Acclaim hasn't revealed who the Legends are going to be but its an odds on bet that both Larry Bird and Michael Jordan (who both have their own games on older consoles) will be included. As well as the Legends tournament, other modes will include the NBA Jam tournament with today's current teams and various mini games to hone your skills.
700 new animations have been included and players can expect the over the top gameplay to continue on in spades. Dunks include, flipping over, flying through the air, as well as many others including an alley oop dunk which is looking absolutely fantastic. Veterans of the older games may recognise a few of the dunks, but Acclaim has thrown in some brand new ones to keep the series fresh. From what we have seen it appears that the air the players gain has increased ten fold, some of the dunks are absolutely insane.
Two staples of NBA Jam have always been "he's on fire" and no fouls and again will deliver. Everything that was good about the old games has been retained with new improvements. As expected NBA Jam will feature a bevy of unlockables including, characters, and various modes to affect players such as big head mode. One new option for is the Jam store where players buy upgraded attributes for their team. So unlike the original games, as you progress further in the tournaments your players will increase in skill.
As mentioned before NBA Jam will feature all licensed courts from the current NBA Teams. However as well as this street courts have been included which mix up the environments a little more then other games such as NBA Live (however it must be said that Live is going for realism over the arcade gameplay of NBA Jam). Players can now also put themselves into the game with the create-a-player mode which will no doubt help the longevity of the title especially when playing against friends etc.
Graphically the 3D engine looks to be doing justice to the lofty heights many gamers hold NBA Jam in . The dunks are looking incredibly over the top and the animation of the players is excellent. Effects such as "he's on fire" have returned with updated graphics (the fire is a lot more pronounced then in previous versions).
On the sound front Tim Kitzrow, the original commentator has returned. Players can expect "boom-shakalaka" and from downtown belting out their speakers during play. Getting the original man back for the sequel means that the game, whilst trying to bring it to a new generation, is keeping to the historical roots which made it so popular. NBA Jam will be online on Xbox Live, and hopefully it will become one of the most popular titles on the service as its just easy to pick up, play and have a quick game with friends.
NBA Jam looks like it will continue the tradition well and give fans exactly what they want. It's been a long time between drinks for the franchise, and it looks like the developers have done justice to the franchise. Excuse the puns but NBA Jam is "heating up" and should be "on fire" at release. NBA Jam is scheduled to ship later this year on the Xbox and Playstation 2 consoles.