We recently had a chance to check out new builds of the Xbox and PlayStation 2 versions of NBA Jam 2004. On the surface, the development team has tried to retain the overall look and feel of previous NBA Jam games. For example, the players are slightly deformed, the camera flashes from the crowd are still there, and much of the gameplay revolves around driving to the basket for spectacular dunks. However, a few changes have been made to the gameplay to make it a little more dynamic.
In NBA Jam 2004, you'll be able to score jam points, which fill a meter at the top of the screen. When this meter is full, a target will appear on the court, indicating a special dunk spot. When you actually perform this over-the-top dunk for the first time, you'll automatically score three points, but as you continue to fill your meter and perform these dunks over the course of the game, that value will increase up to five points and then seven points. This really encourages you to dunk as opposed to taking outside shots, and it can be incredibly useful for building a sizable lead during the game.
All the traditional gameplay features are still intact. You can use turbo to get a quick boost of speed, and when the boost is used in tandem with another button, you can perform various juke moves. On defense, performing the same combination lets you knock down the ball handler, which usually causes him to drop the ball. There are still alley-oops, and players have the ability to catch on fire when they hit three shots in succession.
Unfortunately, the current build of the game has only two options--an exhibition mode and a tournament mode featuring three of the best players in the history of professional basketball. But from what we've seen so far, NBA Jam 2004 definitely tries to stick closely to the original NBA Jam recipe. We'll have much more on the game before its release in October.