Released in the mist of the NBA Playoffs, game developer Midway comes with the arcade style b-ball game, “NBA Ballers: Chosen One,” following up their two previous releases — “NBA Ballers” and “NBA Ballers: Phenom.”
With its first release on the next gen consoles — Xbox 360 and PS3 — the revamped visuals look great, but aside from a few vamped up gameplay mechanics, it’s just about the same game. Why wasn’t more added? Well the first version of the game was all about basketball fun, so maybe they thought it worked in the past, so let’s stick to it. However, that sentiment is not always true, as video games constantly evolve.
As you begin the game, you create your own Baller, just like past versions. And just like past versions, this feature isn’t as deep as I’d like, but works nonetheless. Once created, you take to the game’s single-player story mode, where you basically take your character through a televised tournament against stars of the NBA, to become the sports next great sensation, or … The Chosen One. Along the way, Public Enemy’s Chuck D plays host.
Right off the bat, you notice the faulty-ness of how the game allots attribute points to your player. In theory, point values, in each area (including dunks, three pointers, etc) are distributed according to the way you plan. However, it doesn’t quite work that way. While playing, I noticed no matter how I played — if I won the match entirely with dunks or if I blocked every shot at the basket — the points added to my attributes do not seem to match. For instance, one match, I won by dunking at will over Kevin Garnett. When the match ended, my dunking attribute increased by one point, while my speed increased by four — all other categories, regardless of how you performed increase by one as well. This is definitely a flaw. If you character is supposed to progress depending on how I play, then my player’s skills should reflect that. If I choose to do nothing but rain down threes, my player should be an excellent three point shooter, and be weak in other areas. It doesn’t happen that way though. Oh well.
Story mode itself is not bad. Your player must navigate through six episodes and a set of games per episode to move ahead, while — as mentioned previously — Chuck D guides you along, from a Sports Center style studio. Unlike previous Ballers titles, this version has a few differences. One is that you are no longer restricted to strictly half-court one-on-one play, and get to experience some full-court team action at points during the game. Also, during some matches, you are thrown different rules to win — such as no ball clears — but by the first two episodes, you are familiar with the different things the computer throws at you.
The no ball clears, or clearing the ball beyond the three-point line if the other player has hit the rim, gets annoying at times and makes for unskilled play. You are subject to just waiting under the basket, hoping to catch a rebound or get the ball back after scoring so you can repeatedly throw it down for a score without the other player even getting a touch. For example, one match I played, I scored the first basket, then the computer controlled baller, got the rebound and dunked it over and over again to win the match without even leaving his position directly under the basket.
On the upside, the game’s controls are easy to catch on and work well. And the combo moves are great and fun to watch. To land a combo movie, you activate it with a combination of buttons, when you are hit with button prompts to move through the different moves, but if you opponent hits the button first, he breaks the combo. It’s cut and dry, and as I mentioned fun to watch, but gets a little repetitive, and ultimately takes away from game play experience.
Then there are the super moves — a super steal, dribble, block, jump shot, and dunk. Throughout the game, if you’re able to score repeatedly, land combos, etc, you earn energy towards these moves. Doing these moves is where it becomes a problem. When you perform any of these super moves, you are sent to a cut scene, which cannot be skipped or bypassed, and is the same one every time, lasting for just about six seconds. After seeing it once, you’re done with it, and would like to just go on playing, but no, you have to watch it every single time, and it’s cheesy at best.
While the graphics have been improved, and most of the game play is like previous versions, I expected a lot more. After playing the first two versions, I got kind of bored with the game. However, the game is fun, just not as in single player mode.
So once you get your Baller’s attributes up, take him online to play against others or friends, and that’s when the most entertaining part of the game is experienced and will give hours of enjoyment. The competitiveness of the online game will overshadow the many flaws mentioned in this review.
In conclusion, “NBA Ballers: Chosen One” is essentially the same as previous titles, with upgraded graphics that aren’t so awesome at times, and some new features that didn’t quite work. However, like I said, multi-player is fun and may be the only factor to draw in potential ballers. You’d think Midway would have upped their game for this release, being it’s the first for the nextgen consoles, but they didn’t. This could have hurt the franchise. They’ve got to go back to the drawning board for the next one, if there is a next one.
Our Rating: 2.5 out of 5.0