NBA STREET VOL. 2 for PlayStation 2, XBox, $80. Rating: NNN
GRAPHICS: Old school to the core, down to the giant afros and hightop shoes.
ADDICTIVENESS: For a Raptors fan, anything is better than reality.
ANTI-SOCIAL FACTOR: Go one-on-one.
PROXIMITY TO THE REAL THING: When was the last time you saw Tracy McGrady playing in a parking lot?
Toronto hoops fans have plenty of time on their hands these days. With the team in the tank, the playoffs long gone and several million bucks going to two coaches who don't work here any more, options are limited. Best to stay indoors and simulate what could have been.
Basketball games have always been hugely popular, arguably the most successful sports sims, alongside football. A handful of different b-ball games are released every year, most of them virtually indistinguishable. All take place in stadiums and feature all-star players doing all-star moves. Fun, sure, but also very safe.
NBA Street was anything but. Taking the game out of the arena and back to the concrete, it replaced the delicate play of the NBA with the bump and hustle of street ball, complete with oversized dunks, flashy dribbles and booming hiphop beats. A sequel was inevitable.
NBA Street Vol. 2 is more of the same, with a few additional twists. NBA and roughneck street players still tangle in parking lots and school gyms, skinning each other with outsized fakes and monster jams. This time around you can also bring in the old school, setting up dream clashes between, say, Allen Iverson and Larry Bird, or Shaq and Wilt Chamberlain.
This is also one game where the soundtrack is as important as the action. NBA Street Vol. 2 is like hiphop culture come to life, with patter from legendary DJ Bobbito and a code that allows you to bring artists from the soundtrack, including a band-aid-wearing Nelly, onto the court.
Is it an improvement on the original? Not really, but it's the concept here that's most interesting. This is an idea that could easily be translated to other sports.
How about backyard rink hockey? Flag football? Sandlot baseball? Suddenly the streets have never sounded so sexy.