EA's successful Fifa Street series on the PS2 has come to the PSP, but rather than emulate the popular footie game here, Electronic Arts has introduced the same formula to the world of basketball.
The game is broken down into a number of areas; Quick Play, King of the Courts, Party Play, and Head to Head. Additionally gamers can check their overall progress and stats in the My Street area or opt to learn a bit more via the NBA street showdown FAQ.
Choosing Quick Play gives you just that and here you have three further options; Pick Up Game, Arcade Shootout and Shot Blocker. The first lets you pick any team from the NBA and challenge any other team from the NBA against the computer.
Arcade Shootout sends a player to the arcade to see how many baskets you can score in a set time and the Shot blocker sees you, as the name suggests, trying your best to block as many shots in a set time. The earlier or more frequent you block them the higher your score and levels are based around blocks and points.
The main crux of the game is the King of the Court career mode, where most of the meat of the game lies. The task ahead is to battle it out across 11 courts, each with their own mini games and levels to complete. There are three difficult levels so beginners can ease their way into the gameplay and tasks vary depending on the levels ahead.
Those tasks can be to score a set amount of baskets before the other team or even to perform a certain amount of trick shots. There is plenty of variety and it's certainly one of the strengths of the title. One minute you're vying for that deciding basket the next it's making sure you block so many baskets in 60 seconds.
The gameplay on the court is fast-paced and action-packed. Like Fifa Street the game doesn't stop for anything and it's all about scoring baskets and performing tricks. To help you in your quest to become King of the courts you can have three players on the court at once (two less than professional basketball) and these players come with a range of skills. You might have a good slam dunker or a stealer and building the right team is the key to success. Once you've beaten an opposing team you can rub it in further by stealing one of their players (ideally their best player) to play for you and you can have up to five players in your team roster at any time.
If you're not busy stealing players you can upgrade them as well with the experience points you earn from completing elements of the game. Additionally you can unlock courts, players and tricks as well. The greater skilled your players the greater their ability to perform mind blowing tricks and after a couple of games you can already begin to notice a difference in your team's performance.
Failing the computer, you can look to other PSP players for action as the game supports wireless head-to-head play.
NBA Streets for us is what all pick-up-and-play games should be. The action and gameplay is great fun and easy to master (eventually). If we were to have any complaints it's that there isn't a tutorial to walk those seeking instant gratification without practice through the tricks available. They are explained somewhat in the accompanying manual, but who wants to play and read at the same time? (Hey, that's why you bought a PSP right?)
Couple the gameplay with smart sharp graphics and a soundtrack that gives you that NBA vibe and you've got a great game that we just can't put down.
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