And 1 Streetball Hands-On

We get sick with it on the court as we check out And 1's trick controls.

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the stylish And 1 Streetball league? Tricks, right? Loads and loads of perfectly executed, ankle-breaking, jaw-dropping, cheer-inducing tricks. The developers at Black Ops Entertainment understand this as well as anybody and are working hard to make sure the upcoming hoops game that bears the And 1 name will stay true to the spirit of a sport where showmanship is just as important as the final score. It's been a while since our last look at And 1, so we were excited to see how it has progressed since then.

Pulling off the kind of b-ball stunts the And 1 players are capable of--mesmerizing dribbles, dunks, and wraparound moves--would be next to impossible for the average basketball player. Luckily, in the And 1 game, you'll be looking like a pro from the get-go, thanks to some very accessible game controls--dubbed iBall--which are tied directly to the two analog sticks on the PS2 and Xbox controllers. We got a chance to see the iBall controls in action and to try them out firsthand, and we came away impressed with just how easy it is to pull off moves that would leave the likes of Kobe or T-Mac (or at least Wally Szczerbiak) lying on the ground, gently cradling their broken ankles.

The dual analog controllers are what's key to the control scheme, and they give you instantaneous access to a host of impressive setup dribbles and fake-out moves, with nary a need for special timing or complicated button combinations. The basic setup tricks, also known as level-one moves, are a breeze: to execute a cross shuffle, simply push the right analog stick to the right; to pull of an orbital, move the stick diagonally up and to the right. Your onscreen player will react instantaneously, shifting his moves as you go, and if you hold the stick in place, the trick animation will simply loop.

Adding the left stick into the mix will move you into slightly more complicated level-two showboat skills where, again, it's simply a matter of moving the right and left stick into specific positions to pull off great-looking hoops stunts. Both the right and left sticks give you access to eight distinct moves, but when used together, that number increases exponentially, as each set of eight moves available to you on the right stick will differ depending on the position of the left stick.

Once you're tired of toying with your opponent, it's time to set him up for your finisher, the level-three moves that dictate your final approach to the basket. Making it happen is as simple as combining the left and right analog sticks with the R1 button to fully break down your opponent and make the basket. While you typically won't be able to screw up a setup move, your defender will always pose a problem to you as he attempts to get a hand on the ball and generally messes with your head. On defense, you'll be able to put the pressure on your opponent by using the right analog stick. Your foe will think twice about trying to bounce the ball off your head if your timing is perfect and you manage to pick it off midtrick. Our time with the game was too brief, but from what we could tell of the controls, they seem to be very accessible and fluid to boot--moving from one trick to the next was a cinch.

Want to move like the Professor? And 1's easy-to-learn controls will help make that happen.

So how will you use this arsenal of slick moves when a defender is right in your face? Most importantly, you'll need to keep your eyes on two crucial meters: the crowd meter, which measures the audience's response to your fancy footwork and ballhandling; and the ankle-breaker meter used in crucial one-on-one moments when it's time to drive to the hoop and make your defender look like he's standing still. By mixing up a smorgasbord of level-one and level-two moves in front of an opponent, you will steadily deplete your opponent's ankle-breaker meter. Once your meter is completely empty, an alarm will sound and that will be your signal to pull off your hottest level-three move. Time it correctly and your opponent will drop to his knees, fully humiliated by your scorching skills. You'll then be able to run to the basket and put up your shot.

The flashier you are on the court and the more hyped you get the crowd, the more you'll add to the meter, with the goal of filling it completely. Once the meter is full, you'll have three options to choose from: set the player "on fire" and give him a hefty boost to all his attributes; pull off one of your created moves for a basket that could be worth anywhere from three to five points (depending on the number of players on each team); or go into shutdown mode--a one-on-one contest where you'll have 15 seconds to put the hoops smackdown on your opponent with no other interference. Break down your opponent completely and you'll earn a mic. If you earn three mics, the game is over, regardless of what the final score is.

The create-a-move tool is designed to make your baller a hoops superhero.

Real players on the And 1 Streetball tour are known for their unique playing styles and signature moves. You'll be able to tap into that unique custom feel in the And 1 game by using the create-a-move feature. Your created player in And 1 will have room for up to 10 created moves in his arsenal, and creating these moves looks to be a cinch with the move-creation tool. By splitting the created move into four distinct areas--showboat, showboat 2, finish, and celebration--and giving you a number of moves to place in each of the four slots (and more to unlock as you make your way through the game), it's very likely that your created player will have a set of finishing moves unlike anyone else playing the game. That you can adjust the length of each move using a handy edit function doesn't hurt either. It's all designed to give you the power to create a player capable of great hoops feats, and then give you the control to make those feats a reality.

We're eager to see more of And 1, especially the story mode, which will put you in the shoes of an up-and-coming baller looking to prove yourself on the And 1 tour by putting all your slickest moves to work. And 1 is currently due for release in spring of 2006. We expect to see more of the game in the near future, and we'll bring you all the information we can as soon as it comes our way.

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