One-on-one basketball is ritual humiliation. Bounce the ball off your opponent’s head, wave it in front of his face, snatch it away, fake him out and leave him crumpled on the floor, but don’t slam it into the basket until you’ve told him at least five juicy facts about his mom. We’ve played GTA, Manhunt and that naughty Mass Effect, but no videogame has filled us with such murderous rage as NBA Ballers did. It’s the most infuriating thing ever.
The game is amazingly frustrating and unfriendly. It’s basketball as a beat-’em-up with a completely unbalanced set of moves. The aim is to string together combos before dunking the ball, which will fill up your power meter that lets you rip out a special move so humiliating, your victim’s family will be forced to change their name and move to another state.
Which means ‘quicktime events’, and interactive cut-scenes - arguably the worst gameplay innovation of all time - both resurrected in a sports game. And if you’re too slow, you fail the move. In something that’s supposed to be a test of pure skill, the best part is reduced to your ability to memorize the buttons. Although there are other moves available, including throwing the ball to a friend in the crowd, then hoping he’ll lob it back to you, it’s slow and unresponsive. The inadequate practice mode will be of little use to anyone who missed out on the previous Ballers games. Besides, this is completely inferior in every way to the infinitely more enjoyable NBA Street Homecourt.
Apr 22, 2008