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NBA Street Homecourt Reviewed! 8.0

Some great changes that are unfortunately matched with the loss of things we're come to love in the Series. The NBA Street series is definitely one of the best within EA BIG, however, the newest installment of this beloved series feel a bit watered down. If you're new to the franchise you'll be blown away and since you're unaware of previous features you'll undoubtedly love this game. However, if you're familiar to the NBA Street series you'll see some things have come and gone, some of which should have never left.

Character creation is the first feature that has seen the most severe change. Forget all the tweaking we once enjoyed on previous versions of this title. You're given the ability to select a position - Forward, Guard or Center. Then within each position you're given the ability to select a player type. Each selection give you a small description ie. "plays is like Lebron James or Kobe Bryant", etc... Next you'll get to select your face from a list of pre-set faces, maybe 15 in all, I didn't count though. From there you can morph the head you selected with that of two other NBA players, very strange and unless feature IMHO. Then its onto naming your character and your "homecourt".

Next is the basics...All the mechanics are back, X and Y do tricks, while A passes and B shoots. Each shoulder button modifies the above mentioned action and some results are incredible, others are nothing new.

The best feature in NBA Street has always been tricks and dunks and In similar fashion to previous titles your player can pull of all kinds of insane and eye popping moves, however, this is also one of the next noticeable features that has been stripped down. Again we return to the arena of customization - Unlike in NBA Street 3 which had a laundry list of dunks and tricks you could unlock. Homecourt has ZERO. Yes, you heard me right... zilch, nada, nothing...
The dunks and tricks your player has will stay the same throughout the game. (However, and this is a BIG redeeming quality that saves the game from being a frustrating downgrade. ) The other NBA players you recruit throughout the Homecourt Challange mode have varied tricks and dunks, but still nothing that shows the variety that has been in previous versions.

Now we'll step away from the bad and downgraded to the fully enhanced and impressive realm. The graphics on NBA Street Homecourt are just plain fantastic. The player models look incredible and the court and environments are equally as impressive. I played at 1080i which yielded a clear and crisp picture while the animations remained clean and smooth. The visuals overall were much better, yes the graphical power of the 360 will do that, but EA went with a bit more realistic and grittier feel; a great change in the series.

The audio was impressive as well, but not in the usual EA Trax kind of way. There is actually very little music that fills the game. What really makes the game standout in this regard is the ambient sound. The players' talking and jabbing, their shoes, cars driving by, birds, spectators talking and even people's cell phones ringing. Very nice touch to the realism.

Another good change to the series is the Gamebreaker feature. We've become familiar with the impossible to stop gamebreaker. A feature that has always been there to show off the flashiness of the game, but really added little in the area of strategic gameplay. Homecourt changes the gamebreaker is a new way and it ended up being a great change. When the gamebreaker starts your teams works ups points by performing tricks and passes, as your score goes up as does the number of baskets the gamebreaker counts, a maximum of 5 points, but this time the defending team can steal the ball and make it into THEIR gamebreaker. Sometimes flipping possessions several times. For me this was the best change within the Street series. The gameplay and strategy really excel here.

Overall the game is visually stunning and I found myself on several occasions with a huge smile on my face as my character flipped through the air. Unfortunately, after several hours it got repetitive and the lack of unlockables and customization hurt it. It definitely lost out a lot in the depth category. I rented this title on Friday evening and by Sunday morning I had beaten the game, gotten a second character half way through the game as well as gotten all but 2 achievements. 900 out of 1000.

Great job, but maybe Homecourt 2 will show off some of the customization features that were dropped from 2 and 3.

Great rental...not worth the 60 bones to buy.

Wii - fun times for all and at a good time.

We'll start this little blog with a short, but unfortunately sad story.  We're going to go back to December 24th 2006...Christmas Eve morning, 5:14 a.m. my mom barges into the room where my wife and I are sleeping b/c my dad, who has been feeling bad for several days, was in terrible pain. 

We all pile in the car and I drive us to the hospital.  We check into the emergency room and within ten minutes the doctors are observing dad and within another 15 they've ordered a helicopter to take him to the University of Tennessee Hospital, which is about 45 minutes away by car.  Before Lifestar gets there my wife, son (16 months) and I are in the car and headed to UT Hospital.

UT Hospital is one of the premier cardiology units in the country.  Long story short, they stabilized him, took him to the stint lab, looked around and found an inoperable partial blockage and a fully collapsed artery on the posterior of the left coronary.  The collapse was old, months if not years old.  Luckily, the heart had compensated for the collapse and the EKG showed an exceptional heart beat despite this problem.  They kept him a few days and actually sent him home a day early b/c he was doing so well. 

Sadly, on January 4th 2007 at about 3:15 a.m. my father passed away at the age of 64 from a second massive heart attack.  His passing was quick and revival was impossible, per the doctors.  His passing was terribly unexpected.  He was a very active person and when he wasn't at work he spent all his time renovating their lake house, fishing, and walking

My dad was an incredible man, a wonderful father and a practicing veterinarian in a city of 27,000 in East Tennessee.  His receiving of friends was amazing with close to a 1000 people arriving to pay their respects to a great man, a great doctor and a great friend.

The passing of a loved one is never easy, but the reason for my blog is more importantly pointing to the passing of a caring husband.

My mother, who would have been happily married to my father for 35 years on this Valentine's Day, has had a terribly rough time handling his passing.  To not bore you with any more details, she has been spending more time handling the veterinarian hospital he owned than grieving and healing for herself.

She needed something to help he relax and forget about her troubles and everyday stresses.  In steps the Nintendo Wii...

It was Superbowl weekend and a bunch of us, 16 to be exact, rented a cabin in the Great Smokey Mountains.  One of couples brought their Wii and that was the end of it.  My wife fell in love and the Wii ended up being an early Valentine's Day gift for us.

We have since taken the Wii out to my mom's house twice and both times she has had an absolute blast.  It is easily the happiest I have seen her since before Christmas.  Laughing, giggling, joking, etc... It is truly heart warming to see my mom sincerely smile and enjoy herself again.  For this I thank the Wii and Nintendo.  They have easily given my family one of the greatest gifts I could ask for...fun family time in the midst of an almost unbearable loss.

Once we find one my sister and I are splitting the cost so she can have her own. An early birthday present and late Valentine's Day gift from the ones her and dad touched the most.

I sincerely thank Nintendo for this blessing!

~Kevin

Studio 60

 Hey folks,

I feel kind of stupid posting a blog in favor of supporting a TV show - especially since I myself am not a huge TV watcher

HOWEVER!

If you haven't had a chance to see Studio 60, GO CHECK IT OUT!

If you saw an episode and it just didn't entertain you, GIVE IT ANOTHER CHANCE.

The show was created by Aaron Sorkin and is produced by Thomas Schlamme, these are the two guys that brought us West Wing and more notably from a comedic stand point, Sports Night.

If you never saw Sports Night you missed out. It was hands down one of the tightest written show in recent history. The reason for it's failure..."it was too smart"

Sadly, this seems to be the path for Studio 60.

"It's too smart" An insulting comment to us viewers, but unfortunately in the same breath people just aren't getting it.

Aside from being "too smart", I personally think, the late timeslot compounded by the unexpected resurgence of Monday Night Football has hurt it.

Regardless of the competition, past AND present, Studio 60 is currently one of the best written, best acted and best directed shows on television.

Warner Brothers, (the studio) and CBS (the network) have already reneged on their initial offering of a 22 episode first season. Last month however, they made an intelligent decision and extended the current running of 9 episodes and adding 3 more.

I happened to run across some junk on the internet Monday night that sparked the need to write this blog.

I found a few mentions of the studio and the network not satisfied with the Nielson ratings.  They had become increasingly more concerned with the number of viewers....

The show started off strong with 13.5 million viewers and over the past few of episodes has fallen off to a "meager" 7.7 million viewers and an additional decline seems to occur in the second half hour of the show. 

Why are people leaving? 

Who truly knows...I really do attribute a lot to a start time of 10 pm EST and a few Monday Night Football games that have been better than years past. 

One thing I know, it's not poor writing, or poor acting or a bad story.  The show has gotten better and better each week.  Again, it all seems to point towards the notion that the writting is "too smart". 

For those who have not heard of the show or that don't know much about it - let me grab some text from Wikipedia to fill you in....

"Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is an American dramatic television series that takes place behind the scenes of a fictional live sketch comedy show (which is called Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip), whose format is similar to NBC's Saturday Night Live. The fictional show-within-a-show is run by head writer Matt Albie (Matthew Perry) and producer/director Danny Tripp (Bradley Whitford)."

Pretty simple explanation in my opinion...No rocket science, no brain surgery, no undecipherable doctor, military, or forentic jargon.  It's based on a TV show!  Something EVERYONE knows, loves and understands.

There have been plenty of TV shows and movies that have proven a cast full of big names doesn't always work, historically it rarely does... Granted some of these actors aren't BIG names, but they are people you are familiar with. 

Jordan McDeere (Amanda Peet)

Harriet Hayes (Sarah Paulson)

Tom Jeter (Nate Corddry)

Simon Stiles (D.L. Hugley)

Jack Rudolph (Steven Weber)

Cal Shanley (Timothy Busfield)

Martha O'Dell (Christine Lahti)

Jeannie Whatley (Ayda Field)

Alex Dwyer (Simon Helburg)

Dylan Killington (Nate Torrence)

Samantha Li (Camille Chen)

Ricky Tahoe (Evan Handler)

Ron Oswald (Carlos Jascott)

Wilson White (Ed Asner)

Lucy Kenwright (Lusy Davis)

Darius Hawthorne (Columbus Short)

Andy Mackinaw (Mark McKinney)

IT'S GOOD TV PEOPLE :)

Well, that's all I got in me right now...the work days coming to a close and I need to work.  I'm sure I'll be posting again as it moves closer to January 8th. 

Go check out this show.  It's great, but I think you know I feel that way already....

GO!

~Snack

Casino Royale

Bond believers and non-believer alike will enjoy this long over due refacing .

This past weekend I was finally able to get out and see this flick.  Casino Royale has been out for two weeks and has gotten rave reviews. The critics have voiced their praise for Daniel Craig as the new Bond, the new feel and the new direction the series appears to be headed.  However, through my own personal hyping of Casino Royale, I was affraid the movie would fall short of my expectations. 

After sitting through 2 hours and 24 minutes of Bond, which passed very fast I might add, I have to put Casino Royale up at the top as one of the best Bond films of all time.

The new change are incredible and lean toward a more realistic outlook on the Bond universe.  Its grittier, its rougher and is much more down to earth.  The past 4 or 5 films in the series have been WAY too over the top and the studios and fans alike have taken the series far from serious.  Whether it was dialog, action, direction or feel the recent Bond's have just been plain bad.

Casino Royale is not a perfect movie, but a solid 4.5 out 5. 

This is a movie you need to make time to go see. 

It's good to finally have a movie out that's worth the time and the money!