NBA Jam is possibly one of the most remembered sports games ever, and for only one reason - over the top dunks. Acclaim and Midway hit gold when they released it to the arcade and home in the nineties. Recently it was revived in a fairly impressive game but lately EA has had the wood on the game with their street series. Coming out every other year, EA has managed to build up an impressive arcade title that still retains quite a few simulation aspects. NBA V3 is the best street balling game period, and that is impressive considering the highly competitive market it has been thrown into. So why is it the best? There is no need to look past a combination of EA's vast fortune and licensing, and some fantastic game mechanics.
Street ball for those unfamiliar with the sport is completely different to the traditional style of basketball. The first change is that it's three on three rather than five on five, but the court remains the same size meaning players get tired quicker, alleviated by the fact fatigue is not a factor in V3. The general aim of the game is to reach 21 points before the other team but there are rule changes - points outside the circle are worth two points while those within only worth one meaning the game is longer than some might expect. Now that street ball 101 is over lets get into why V3 is so impressive.
In terms of game modes the game comes across as quite lackluster, only offering three. It's once you delve past the initial options that a lot of depth begins to shine through. The main game mode is a street conquest where you are given seventy in game days to prove you're the best baller team around. Usually time limits in game's detract from the overall experience, but in Street V3 it seems to be balanced quite well. It is not a case of having to skip tournaments to make the deadline, and there is a variety of rule changes to keep the game fresh such as dunks only which offers up some eye candy for the player.
The other game modes basically break the street conquest into individual game types of dunking, street ball and practice where you can tune your moves. The best type is the dunk mode, which is far more impressive than it was in NBA Live 2005. They seem to have really worked on what they had in Live and created perhaps the best dunking competition ever. You jump in the air (with or without obstructions) and use the right analogue to perform crazy, but realistic moves before a dunk and are then marked on creativity. The dunks are the signature move of the game as you would expect with arcade games with the NBA players and legends having signature moves during gamebreakers, which work much like they do in NFL Street, and can destroy an opponent's chances in a single dunk.
The game itself plays in a fast paced manner compared to Live and the court is a lot more open with only three players. The right analogue stick in a game situation is used to perform a number of tricks which builds up the gamebreaker meter. This is balanced by the fact that ball control during these moves is restricted, so players can jump on a loose ball quicker and turn the ball over. While the game doesn't really differentiate itself from many other baller games, it just seems to flow much better. Perhaps it's the presentation of the game and graphics but it just seems to take it to the next level when compared to something like NBA Ballers.
The game contains multiple licenses despite the fact it's not a simulation of the sport. You will find the stars of the NBA featured to play in exhibition games as well as legendary players which you unlock with points earnt via your reputation. The characters animate extremely well, pulling off their moves in a believable fashion rather than going over the top and taking the game into a true arcade spectrum. The courts however are not licensed, but with the court creator you can make your own for your team. There are a lot of custom options in the game such as changing the rules, changing looks of players through to making your own style of shoes.
The visuals of the game are perhaps one of the best aspects of the game with a cartoon style used to animate the players with the courts looking a bit more realistic. The style has come off extremely well with the game looking impressive with not many graphical problems or pop up to speak of. The commentary is provided by a non-professional commentator and you will either love it or turn it off, there is no middle road. Players grunt and call for the ball sometimes but most of the time you will be listening to music, once again provided by EA Trax.
NBA Street V3 is the game that NBA Jam probably should have been last year. EA has really created the best balling game thus far with a better storyline than NBA Ballers and better gameplay than NBA Jam. If you want the best, then NBA Street V3 is no doubt that - with its conquest mode and significantly improved dunking competition, it features everything a street balling fan would want.