E10+ (Everyone 10 and Up) Release Date:
Q4 2009Screenshots: LinkPrice:
Basketball is one of the most watched and played sports around the world. Whether in real life or via a videogame console, men, women, boys and girlsÖ sometimes dogs, gravitate towards the spectacle that has produced several ďhousehold namesĒ over the decades. While companies like EA, 2K Sports and Sony look towards the realism within professional basketball, a new entry prefers the glitz and glamour of high-flying games like NBA Jam. Tecmo looks to separate itself from the ladder by providing an arcade-style basketball experience, which harks back to the days of NBA Jam, while maintaining several elements which are present in todayís basketball games. Do they succeed, well there is only one way to find outÖ well two if you count buying the game.
NBA Unrivaled features 5-on-5 arcade style basketball thatís grounded within the world of the NBA. All 32 NBA team and their courts are represented within the game, as are many of the ďrules of the courtĒ. For and arcade-style basketball game, it seems kind of odd that so many elements are in fact taken from the simulation-style basketball games. The only part about NBA Unrivaled that really stands out in comparison to games like NBA 2K10, NBA Live 10 or NBA10 is the way players can perform dunks. Though some of the roots in NBA Unrivaled can be traced to the early days and NBA Jams, you will not see any half-court dunks. Picture realistic dunks, just with a lot more glitz, flare and emphasis. I guess when you go off the name of the game, NBA Unrivaled, you expect to have no rivals, when in fact the title shares so much in common with simulation-based basketball games.
Whatís interesting about the gameplay in NBA Unrivaled is that the pacing isnít on par with that of most basketball games. Even NBA Jam had fast pace action throughout. Now I know not every player will just simply running the ball up the court for a quick shot or dunk, but you can do it within this game and the computer wonít put up much of a fight. On the defensive end, you can practically stalk the ball handler, trying to steal the ball and only have to really worry about two different penalties being called; charging and reaching in. Whatís interesting about these two penalties is that they were rarely called against me when trying to strip the ball from the computer-controlled A.I. Not sure if it was just that game, or the refs are half-blind, but some of the swipes at the ball resulted in contact with the player and nothing was called.
When it comes to controlling your players on offense of defense, you donít have to worry about using every single button on the controller. All movement of the player is controlled with the left analog stick, while the A/X buttons control passing the ball and changing players on the fly. The B/Circle buttons allows you to break the ankles of your opponents with jukes, while on defense the button is used for stealing the ball. The X/Square buttons are used to shoot the ball, while used for blocking on defense. The last button you must know about is the Right Trigger/R1 button which is sued for your turbo.
Since there arenít many sports games released via PSN and XBLA, there really isnít much you can compare NBA Unrivaled to. When you compare the title to retail-released games, it holds its own, but clearly isnít on the same level of detail as those games. This isnít a bad thing simply because the game looks well polished. Players, basketball courts are all nicely detailed, allowing you to make out who is who on the floor. The high-flying dunks are handled with procession, just not on the same level as the great NBA Jam. If the player is on a hot streak, the ball will glow green, or have a trail of flickering lights when dribbling the ball down court. For a digital download, NBA Unrivaled ranks as one of the best visual pleasing sports title available for download. When it comes to the sound, itís on par with most basketball games, just lacks the commentary, which can make or break the basketball experience. Not sure the lack of commentary was due to the overall size of the game, or just wanting to release it in a timely manner, but lack of someone saying something just seems weird in todayís era of sports games.
NBA Unrivaled has three game modes: Quickplay, Challenge Mode and Online Mode. Quicklplay is looked upon as Exhibition Mode is sports games, allowing you to jump right into a 5-on-5 battle with the computer or a fellow friend. With Challenge Mode, you are essentially playing through season of basketball. Where it becomes different here, in comparison to other basketball games, is that each and every team has to be beaten by a certain number of points, which can prove challenging over time. Finally, Online mode allows you to player against your fellow friends and/or strangers in one of two modes: Ranked and Unranked.
In the end, NBA Unrivaled just didnít live up the title it was given. To true be unrivaled, you expect the included features and gameplay experiences to be better or worse than other games of a similar nature. NBA Unrivaled falls in between. It pulls features from games like NBA Jam, however lives too much within the world of simulation basketball, which limit the creativity and possibilities for a unique gameplay experience. For Tecmoís first basketball game, itís rather solid and boasts some dynamic gameplay mechanics. Hopefully if Tecmo continues to make future installments, they will learn from their mistakes and try to create an experience that all their own. For those die-hard NBA fans that looking for something different from the norm, this is your game. For those new to basketball videogames, but donít want something to cumbersome, this game is for you. 6/
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