ECTSNBA Hoopz Hands-On

First NBA Jam, then Showtime, now Midway shows off the latest in its arcade-hoops series.

Midway had the PlayStation 2 version of its upcoming arcade-style basketball game, NBA Hoopz, on display at the ECTS show. The major difference between NBA Hoopz and last year's NBA Showtime is that there are now 3 players on each team. This adds a welcome dynamic to the game. While maintaining the game's exaggerated arcade lineage, NBA Hoopz introduces some rudimentary basketball strategy with the three-player option. The passing game is more advanced than previous games in the Midway series. Instead of hogging the ball all the way down the court, if so inclined, the player can pass it down and involve their teammates. There are cool new passing animations in the game to encourage this further, including the sweet 180 behind-the-back dish.

Otherwise NBA Hoopz is almost identical, in terms of gameplay, to NBA Showtime: NBA on NBC. The game plays best in the multiplayer mode where players are flying around the court, executing unrealistically massive dunks and monster blocks. The game even moves at a similar pace, as the action constantly transitions from one end of the court to the other.

Graphically, NBA Hoopz looks solid, yet unspectacular. Fortunately, the game is early in development and Midway has plenty of time to push the polygon counts further and smooth out the player models. The visual style is similar to NBA Showtime or NBA Jam. The players are proportioned unrealistically, with larger than usual heads and ripped physiques.

Naturally, there should be some outrageous peripheral options added into the final version of the game - perhaps the ability to play as a horse in NBA Showtime. NBA Hoopz for the PlayStation 2 will be released sometime in 2001.

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