Homecourt isn't really basketball. Oh, sure, technically it is - there are lines on the court, a couple of rims, and a round, bouncy thing that the players all want. But this isn't basketball - it's an epic sideshow of seemingly every stylish way a supernatural meth-binging freak could manipulate a ball, hoop, and backboard.
Yes, the gameplay remains almost unchanged from the way the corporate gods decreed it when Street first bombed us on the PS2. This yields an instantly accessible, nostalgic, and clock-eating title perfect for tournaments with your super-pals. But the game lacks the evolution (sorry Kansas) that would elevate this properly into a next-generation amazement-fest you’d continually sacrifice your hygiene for. Besides the new animations and upped polygon count, your sputtering PS2 could have handled this gameplay upgrade, resulting in fun that’s polished but too familiar.
But then you go up for a dunk and miss the timing, an act which results in your player sticking his leg through the rim and getting caught, hanging upside-down from the rim until it breaks away, dumping him into an ultra-athletic heap on the ground. You laugh your ass off in all directions and remember that this is still one of the best-playing sports games anywhere.
Beyond the pyrotechnics of the dunk and ball-handle, it for once feels as if EA was not trying to rape the oppressively glamorized urban motif for the mass-gobbling by hordes of gangsta-pop-brainwashed suburban sheep. There’s even a perceptible push to authentically portray the culture and exude a vibe of positive significance.
Firstly, a head-nodding soundtrack submerges it all in vintage basketball soul. Retro break-beats from RJD2 and Z-Trip mix seamlessly with 70s era funk from The Bar-Kays and The Commodores. Then there are the almost poignant cut-scenes of pros relaying their most grandiose battles as rising hometown heroes. And there are even brief cinematic biographies of legendary courts like Franklin Park in Chicago, which lend a perception of basketball as an oasis of optimism in inner cities generations entrenched in poverty. Though the presentation is sometimes hackneyed, it’s still enough to make 2K7 and NBA Live look utterly Hollywood.
For all the retro and pseudo-socially-conscious revamp, this is largely the same game you've played before. That said, Homecourt is a scientifically fluid refinement of upgraded graphical sheen (PS3 has a slight edge over 360) and unprecedented stylish madness that will harvest some of your most enthusiastic hollers. It's still got ridiculous skills on the court, especially for multiple playahs.