NBA Ballers: Chosen One - hands-on

Who has time for year-long Season modes when arguably the best part about sports games is talking trash with your best friend/roommate/girlfriend? Toeing the line between the ridiculous arcade-y action of NBA Jam, franchise ballin’ and hip hop culture is NBA Ballers: Chosen One, the third iteration in Midway’s popular hoops series for the PS3 and 360. Judging by the near-finished version we sat down with, we’re confident Ballers will be the perfect pick-me-up as the NBA season winds down come spring.

Featuring around 80 all-stars, Ballers ditches the teams and pares the game down to one-on-one, two-on-two and the occasional three-way. Rather than simple dunks and blocks, Ballers puts emphasis in player control - meaning that instead of jamming on a button for LeBron’s simple juke animations, you’ll have complete power over how he moves about the court be it through cancelling your own combos or completely humiliating your opponent - of which there are plenty opportunities to do so.

Besides standard play where Shoulder buttons give you “juice” (turbo), Square/Circle steals/shoots, and the right analog stick jukes, you’ll spend time in the combo-driven “Act a Fool” mode, while charging your Super Move meter. Act a Fool enters you into a minigame with your opponent to extend your combo by quickly imputing the button command that appears at the top of the screen.

Success means the combo is extended and will nab additional points when you take your shot (3 moves give you +1 point, 4 moves +2, etc.). It’s risky since your opponent can beat you to the button command, effectively ending your combo and almost always resulting in a turnover. We were able to pull off a few combos, yet found it challenging to extend them.