Dunk Contest + Trick Stick = Good Times

User Rating: 9 | NBA Street V3 PS2
While Basketball and Streetball are essentially the same sport, one who's experienced both would have a hard time believing so. Basketball is a team game, and the ultimate goal is to score more than your opponent. Streetball, on the other hand, isn't so much of a team game, and the purpose isn't really to score more than your opponent, but to do it in style…

Enter NBA Street V3, the epitome of true Streetball. High praise, which the game definitely deserves. Its arcadey-style gameplay, combined with its emphasis on just plain looking good is what has set the series apart from all imitators from the beginning. V3 continues the tradition of being on top by substantially improving the game's overall presentation, in addition to revamping the gameplay. What results is a game that will consistently suck you in and keep you playing for a long time to come.

For those not familiar with the Street franchise, NBA Street V3 consists of 3-on-3, over-the-top, no-holds-barred basketball, played on a great variety of real-world street courts. From Mosswood to Rucker, you'll be ballin' to your heart's content, pulling off asphalt-pounding, head-spinning tricks, throwing down rim-bending, backboard-shaking, show-stopping dunks, all while amassing absurd amounts of Trick Points. Once enough trick points have been gained, you will get the opportunity to pull off a new "Interactive Gamebraker," which I will get into later.

The visuals have received a nice overhaul, one that makes the game have an overall realistic feel. The players themselves look amazing; as do the courts, and such details as leaves or plastic bags blowing across the court only serve to improve the realism. Especially impressive are the lighting effects. Some of the courts in the game take advantage of some pretty advanced lighting, which can affect the atmosphere of the game in drastically different ways.

Equally impressive to the visuals is the sound. The sound effects themselves are excellent. You will really get a sense of just how powerful your last dunk was when you hear the rim, backboard, and stanchion of the basket creak and rattle under your vicious onslaught. The music is a matter of taste. If you like the kind of music associated with Streetball, you will undoubtedly be satisfied. The same goes for the commentary. Fast-talking Bobbito Garcia, AKA D.J. Cucumber Slice returns for another game, returning with the exact same style of commentary, so if you loved him or hated him in Volume 2, you'll feel the same in V3. The commentary itself is almost never late to describe game events, something that plagues the commentary in other games. At some times, Bobbito even borders on hilarious.

While NBA Street 2 more than doubled the amount of tricks available compared to NBA Street, V3 increases the amount of tricks exponentially. This is due largely in part to the "trick stick," V3's new method of pulling off tricks. Tricks are no longer pulled off by pressing the shoulder buttons and square, but by pressing the shoulder buttons and pulling the right analog stick in any direction. Now, for every combination of shoulder buttons that would give you a single trick in V2, you have a choice of eight completely different tricks in V3. Not to mention that there are multiple sets of tricks, all entirely different from the default set.

Pulling off the tricks with the trick stick feels completely natural, and much less mechanized than the turbo + square method. The diagonal direction tricks can be a tad bit hard to do, but it's not a real problem. The tricks themselves, as always, are over-the-top, creative, and just plain sick. From wrapping the ball around your opponent's head to kicking the ball off of the backboard into an alley-oop for a teammate, it's not unheard of to simply sit in awe after a particularly nasty play and think, did I just do that? Best of all, they are very fluidly animated, and the defender's "faked out" animation always looks natural, no matter what the trick.

One thing veterans to the series will find disappointing, however, is the inability to control your dunks. Each time you go up for a throw-down, your baller will perform a random dunk based on their position to the basket and how many turbos you press. Since the other games of the series have enabled you to fully control what dunk you perform, the reason as to why you can't do so in V3 remains a mystery.

One major improvement over the previous installments is found in the execution of the "gamebreaker," a move that comes available to your team once you get enough trick points by stringing together tricks, fakeouts, shots, and dunks in various combos. Now, when you trigger the gamebreaker, provided that you're close enough to the basket, your baller will take a tremendous jump towards the hoop. Your job is to string together as many tricks as possible before the baller falls low enough to dunk it. Of course, if a teammate (or two) decides to jump up and get into the action, you can pass it to THEM and have them continue the combo, for even more trick points.

The best thing about this new gamebreaker is that it requires a little bit of skill to rack up the points. The default points awarded to your team is 2, while subtracting 1 from the other team, but get good at it and your team will be scoring FOUR points every gamebreaker, while the other team loses one.

The "new" main mode this time around is Street Challenge. You will take advantage of the game's "Create a Court" and "Create a Baller" feature right at the start, and have the option to utilize the games other "Create a" modes once you get going. You will create a court and a baller, found a team, and within a ten-week time period, build up your reputation (and skills) up by winning as much as possible. There are a variety of game types, and many courts to choose from, some of which you must get a certain reputation to access. Progressively better teams will challenge you, some with NBA players, superstars, and finally legends.

I can say from personal experience that this mode is surprisingly addicting. The various game types, such as trick point challenge and dunks only, keep the mode from getting monotonous, and as your rep gets higher and the amount of street points you have increases, you'll be able to amuse yourself even further by taking advantage of the mode's other features, such as "Create a Shoe" and "Barber Shop." While the features aren't terribly deep, they're interesting diversions from the main game.

However, the most interesting diversion is the Slam Dunk Contest. Granted, it's not as deep as some other slam dunk contests, (read: NBA Live) but it is simple enough to play and still provides some thrills. Controlling the dunks is similar to controlling gamebreaker dunks in the game, and you also have the option to use "props," ranging from a basketball rack to a full-sized ladder, in addition to being able to pass the ball to yourself off the backboard. There's actually quite a bit of possible dunks, so it takes quite a bit of time before the mode becomes stale (which, due to the lack of depth, is inevitable).

When all is said and done, if you're looking for a basketball game that doesn't stress simulation, but rather, stresses fun, NBA Street V3 is the game for you. It improves on its predecessors on almost every level, which is definitely saying something. While other ongoing series may start to decline around their third installment, V3 is still going strong. Even basketball sim fans will want to check this out. You just might get turned on to the world of Street.

Reviewer's Score: 9/10