NBA Jam Review
The classic over-the-top arcade basketball game is revived for the current generation
NBA Jam was a popular classic arcade title many years ago, and this year it’s back, thanks to EA Sports. The game was initially released for the Wii, but once the fan demand increased, the publisher promised to include the game for free with the upcoming NBA Elite 11. Unfortunately, with the title cancelled, NBA Jam was left on its own and was released as a standalone product for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Featuring a unique style and visuals, the game delivers on the classic gameplay that fans were hoping for. It also comes packaged with multiplayer and a variety of game modes. Even with these features though, the game feels shallow and may offer too little value for an average player.
The core gameplay mode in NBA Jam is a 2vs2 basketball match with 3 minute quarters. The player teams up with an AI partner to take on various real players from around the NBA. Before every game, you’re given a selection of teams to play as, and then select which player you wish to be, alongside your AI teammate. All the real players and teams from the NBA are here, though the player selection is fairly limited to the best players on each team. The players have stats assigned to various categories, though it rarely has any significant impact on the gameplay. The game’s simple premise is to score more baskets than your opponents, and the focus is to do it with as much finesse as possible.
NBA Jam, much like the original version, is focused on player domination and scoring points. On the court, players are able to shove and elbow their opponents in order to gain possession of the ball. You can shoot, fake, spin and slam dunk at will – all of which are well animated and also exaggerated. Slam dunks and jumps send players high into the air for a powerful dunk into hoop after a few flips in the air. The controls are fairly simple, and either buttons or the analog stick can be used. Once a player goes on a scoring streak, the ball and the net will actually catch fire, and the shots become more difficult for the opposition to block. The gameplay in Jam is very reminiscent of the classic, and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
To make the game more interesting, there is a full single player or coop career mode included. You select any team you wish, and begin your journey to battle all teams from each NBA division in order to win various conference trophies. Each division also has a boss battle that features two classic NBA players that, if defeated, become usable in the game. Each game follows the same scenario, 2v2 game with 3 minute halfs. Unfortunately after a while, it all becomes a bit stale as you’re grinding through opponent teams and racking up victories. There is little to differentiate one game from the next, as your opponents and the court changes, the gameplay remains almost formulaic. Matches begin to feel a tad long, and there is not enough of a difficulty curve as you progress through the career to make it more interesting.
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