NBA Jam is a game that set all the standards for arcade basketball games to follow in the past few years. It has been quite sometime since I had last played an NBA Jam title. In fact the last NBA Jam title to hit the consoles was four years ago on the N64. So that should come to show that it has been a while, but now Acclaim is back with its prized franchise with NBA Jam for the PS2.
A lot has changed since the last time NBA Jam was on the consoles. Games have gotten more and more precise and quite frankly gamers have become more and more picky about their games. Back when NBA Jam was at its prime, people really enjoyed the simple, yet enjoyable games. Now, we are all looking for depth, more game modes, and more new features. So can NBA Jam pick up its act after a four year break, or will it end up failing?
When you load up NBA Jam it is like a walk down memory lane, because all of the menus really look like they did back in the day of the old games. The game consists of an Exhibition Mode, Jam Tournament, Legends tournament, and Jam Store. There really isn’t a true main mode to the game, but each mode has its own unique feature it has to offer which tries to give some depth to the game, but unfortunately we all wish they had tried a little harder!
The basic premise behind the NBA Jam series is still in tact, and it shows with the three-on-three style basketball and many of the powerups are still the same as they were back in previous versions. The famous lines of "he’s on fire" are also still intact, and after three good shots you will be engulfed in fire. For those of you who haven’t heard those magic words, then be prepared because NBA Jam says it a lot. Basically if your player becomes on fire, his stats will be boosted to the max, and his turbo unlimited, and that my friends is being "on fire".
NBA Jam isn’t still all old school and in fact they have added the new Jam Meter which is quite simple make a few jams, fill the bar, and then you get a "super dunk" which is actually quite cool. The addition doesn’t do a whole lot for the game but at least there have some new modifications rather then in the old series.
Another really great feature that Acclaim has added to this version of NBA Jam is the ability to create your own "baller". So if you don’t feel like playing with the legends or the new age basketball players, then you have the option to create your own. This is one mode that I really found both necessary and a lot of fun. You have quite a bit of options when it comes to customizing your character and it ends up being a very solid addition to the game.
The controls of NBA Jam are quite simplistic yet effective, and are quite easy to learn. The game plays exactly like most basketball games, so for most there will be little to no learning curve for this one.
In so many ways I really wanted NBA Jam to be a great title, with all of the great memories I have experienced with the game, I just wanted to relive the glory of the old days. Unfortunately NBA Jam has some issues that just cannot be overlooked and really hurt the game. Probably the most noticeable and important is the gameplay, which just feels outdated when compared to other arcade-style basketball titles, especially the far superior NBA Street Vol. 2. It would have been nice if they had done more to enhance the game. The other big problem is the lack of any new game modes or anything interesting. We are given a rather straightforward and boring set of game modes, and this really ends up hurting the replay value. As much as I wish NBA Jam had performed better, the game is just a few years behind the rest of the pack.
NBA Jam has never been a series known for its graphics but always a game that was driven by the gameplay, and this holds true once again in this version. In this day and age, graphics have become more and more important to the gamer (right or wrong it has).
NBA Jam has so many problems in the graphics department, which it really isn’t worth mentioning them all. To put it quite simply NBA Jam is just a plain ugly game that is really depressing to look at. The character models are oddly shaped and really end up looking deformed. The lack of detail is apparent in the arenas and on the characters and unfortunately you just don’t get much from the game’s graphics.
Overall NBA Jam really could use a facelift in the graphics department, and hopefully if Acclaim takes another go at the series they put some more effort into the game’s graphics which are really hurting.
NBA Jam does have one thing going for it, and that would definitely come up in the fun factor section. Whether there are only a few modes or not, this is still a really fun game to play. The gameplay is still fast and furious and if you had a good time with the old ones, then it is always fun to relive some of the great memories the previous titles had brought.
NBA Jam fails to recapture the glory that previous versions had brought the gaming world. Although it was nice to see Acclaim bring back the series, and hopefully they can improve upon this version and come out with a better one next year. Until then if you are having cravings for some NBA Jam action then you might want to get this one. If not, it is worth the rental.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.