NBA Hoopz


Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 8

Sound: 7

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 8


Out of ideas to push the series, Midway 'jumped the shark' video game style with NBA Hoopz. The addition of a third player on the court for each team reeks of desperation, yet when the game is this much fun, it doesn't really matter. Building upon the previous years NBA Showtime (with its wasted NBC license), Hoopz may be the same on the court, but off the court is where it makes itself worthwhile.

nbahoopz1.jpg (45820 bytes)After a disastrous start in 3-D with NBA Jam Extreme, Showtime picked things up with a faster, yet more controlled pace. Hoopz slows everything down, even slightly, and it ends up being easier to play. The addition of an extra player does crowd things just a bit and passes don't always go where you want them. Those are the biggest downsides of the change.

In an effort to add a little control to the otherwise wild proceedings, fouls are now called. This prevents someone from constantly pushing someone to the floor and swiping the ball. It was too easy to abuse in the past. Now, whenever a specific player goes over the limit or the team, the person pushed gets a free throw worth three points and the ball back if they make it. It would be nice to have the option to turn this off if you prefer the older style of play.

AI is still cheap, especially on the harder levels. Plan to miss many fourth quarter shots. It also seems to get into passing fits, throwing the ball back and forth, even when wide open under the basket.

Strategy now plays a small role, as players need to dig a little deeper into the expanded rosters. They need to make the substitutions at half time more carefully with the injury feature created for NBA Jam T.E. fully realized. If your team isn't deep, you're going to have problems.

nbahoopz2.jpg (39402 bytes)Defeating all of that is the ability to edit player's attributes. While you can earn bonus points for winning games to assign, you're also able to take points away from one category and put them into another. It's far too easy to create a super player using statistics of another. All it takes is one dead on three-point shooter before it becomes impossible to lose.

Hoopz separates itself from the usual arcade mode, adding in full 82 game season play, playoffs, and a wealth of mini-games. While none of these are complete (there's no stat tracking during a season, odd for a game so focused on stroking egos), they're still a blast. The mini-games can kill an entire day, just on the three-point shootout alone. Around the World, 2-Ball, and 21 only add to the fun factor.

Even with an extra model on the floor, there's no loss of detail anywhere. The frame rate stays smooth and there doesn't seem to be a polygon missing. Slowdown occurs when a player puts up a shot when on fire, but it otherwise stays at its normal speed. The somewhat garish textures are the major complaint, turning each NBA player into a bodybuilder, complete with popping veins. With all the time spent rendering the faces (still some of the best ever put into a video game), you would think the rest of the model would match up.

Tim Kitzrow still spouts off his classic lines as he's been doing for years with Midway. He can occasionally be annoying, especially when the action gets too quick for him and all he says are names. Music during the game is catchy, if overshadowed by the crowd and sound effects. It doesn't quite match the classic NBA on NBC theme of the previous game, but not much does.

Next to NBA Hangtime (and probably Jam T.E.), this is Midway's best entry into their arcade basketball series, even if it doesn't do anything completely original. It's been refined enough to make it to this point without losing any of the fun factor, while adding in some small sim-like options to appeal to a real NBA fan. It may be considered a classic like the earlier games; that doesn't mean it's not worth playing.


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Last updated: Friday, September 09, 2005 04:33 PM