Oh no, baby.
Love it or hate it, you gotta admit that the And1 Streetball tour is a pretty incredible phenomenon. What began as a series of underground streetball VHS tapes has evolved into a lucrative touring attraction, a massive sports clothing and shoe brand and a well-received documentary series on ESPN. The Harlem Globetrotters? Still stuck on Gilligan’s Island, probably.
But And1 differs from the classy showmanship of its predecessor in one enormous way – it’s not classy. It’s gritty and dirty and puts big-ego attitude and acrobatics in the spotlight. It’s easy to wish these dudes the best because they genuinely love playing ball, but the overbearing chest-beating of the whole thing definitely gets in the way.
[image1]Well, give yourself a dumb nickname and start bricking jump shots, because the Tour’s latest stop is on the PS2 and Xbox in Ubisoft’s And1 Streetball. And just like the real thing, it’s all style and no substance, an oops without the alley.
Streetball isn’t about winning so much as it’s about mad dunks and crazy handles. And1 tries to accentuate this by introducing the I-Ball control scheme, which turns the right analog stick into a juke machine. With eight-way directional input that can be modified via the left stick and the ‘turbo’ button, there are a slew of sweet moves to bust out on the poor shlub standing between you and the basket. Performing tons of jukes earns ‘respect’ points, which are converted into ‘mics’ to enable either going “On Fire” (NBA Jam should sue) or the game’s “Breakdowns,” which require you to be standing in the right spot while pressing the trigger buttons.
If all of this sounds familiar, it’s because NBA Street does pretty much the exact same thing. Talk about biting rhymes. But where EA’s beauty excelled in its subtle complexity, And1 tosses subtlety out the window entirely.
For the most part, you’ll just sit there smashing the right stick all over the place to build up your ‘ankle breaker meter,’ then blow by your man and dunk it for a ton of respect and some easy mics. Like Street’s Gamebreakers, Breakdowns (*sigh*) are nearly unblockable and result in 3 or 5 free points. So you go big with mics, unleash a few Breakdowns and dominate like a pro, even if you have no idea what you’re doing. The rest of the offense – passing and shooting – seem like total afterthoughts.
As does defense. Other than stealing and swatting, there’s nothing to it. Considering that every I-Ball juke breaks two or three basic basketball rules, from double-dribbling, palming and traveling to the lesser-known “no stuffing it up your shirt” rule, it’s insane that there is no countering system in place. Just as offense boils down to hammering incessantly on the juke sticks, defense is little more than hammering incessantly on the steal button. A shove button doesn’t do anything at all and there are no fouls. Believe it or not, there’s less defense in this game than in a real And1 tape.
[image2]Not that any of it matters, because the A.I. is preposterously bad. Guys will just stand in front of you without doing a thing as you go crazy with jukes. They have no sense of the game clock, letting it wind down even if they have control of the ball and are down by only a point or two. There is no playcalling system in And1, which I suppose makes sense since this is a streetball game, but it only goes to show how stupid computer players are when they have no directions to follow. Zombies shamble with more initiative.
If you still care enough to actually play through the game, you’d be best served in the And1 Tour mode, which takes your created baller though the rigors of trying to make it on the And1 bus. Taking place at various cities across the country, the career follows a brutally repetitive formula; each stop has you playing in an Open Run followed by a storytelling/tutorial Side Game and culminating in the Main Run. Open and Main Runs are five-on-five affairs, while the Side Games might be three-on three or even one-on-one.
No matter how many guys are on the court, however, it’s the same shebang over and over again. Shake the sticks, earn some mics, break the game. The side games make it even more aggravating by including extra winning conditions like blocking some shots or getting some steals. It’s stupid. You’ll beat the hell out of your crappy opponent only to lose because you didn’t grab three rebounds. Why, Ubisoft. WHY.
You’ll also earn some money for winning, which can be spent on gear and stats, but it doesn’t matter if your created player scores a million points or none; so long as your team wins, you stay on the And1 bus and continue pursuing your dream of joining the squad of weirdly serious and disgruntled And1 players. They even try to tie in plot elements from the show via awful cut-scenes narrated by the actual guys, but unless you obsessed over the documentary, none of it will make a lick of sense.
[image3]Unfortunately, that’s the best mode in the game, as the only other options are Exhibition games and multiplayer. Both the Xbox and PS2 versions are online, but good luck finding anyone else dumb enough to have dropped coin on this flat ball.
And good luck stomaching the terrible delivery. The only thing the game has going for it visually are the hordes of cool juke and dunk animations, otherwise it should be benched for retarded collision detection and billions of glitches. Hands poke through bodies, heads disappear in backboards, the physics are from Mars and the models are from 1995. Check out our highlight reel! Then, check out our awesome Field Goal percentage. That’s 19 points a shot!
But before doing any of that, press mute. Quick. And1 features a looping series of hip-hop tracks that will only appeal to the krunkiest of the krunk, although you can barely hear past resident screaming lunatic Duke Tango shouting “OH BABY!” over and over again, even when nothing is happening. The players say all sorts of lame things, too, such as the filthy “I’m takin’ you to Bang City, son!” and the playground classic “Your momma!”
Oh yeah? Well at least my momma had the brains to avoid this P.O.S. And I heartily recommend gamers do the same, because other than a ton of moves, this baller has zero street cred.