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Published: Saturday, 5/24/2008

Game review: 'NBA Ballers: The Chosen One'


During my teen years I spent uncounted hours on a steaming hot asphalt basketball court several blocks from my house. The trash-talk and testosterone were thick enough to cut with a chainsaw.

I learned quickly that you don t step on to the court unless you brought mad skills, a self-inflated ego, and some really thick skin. There s something thrilling about screaming You can t handle this! in a buddy s face after a well-executed slashing move to the hoop.

Fortunately, Midway once again has captured that feeling, only in video game form.

Like its predecessors, NBA Ballers: The Chosen One, allows players to assume the identity of their favorite NBA star and take on players from around the league on a court of athletic justice. Ballers can play one-on-one, two-on-two, or one-on-one-on-one, and the play is similar to other street basketball games on the market.

What is different this time is that Midway added a story line game called the Chosen One, where you create a player and take him through a series of match-ups to become the Chosen One of basketball fame. As you advance in levels, you unlock

certain devastating moves, super jukes, shots, and dunks.

The Baller I created looked like me, acted like me, and played like Lebron James. After several hours of getting used to the game play (it s been a while since the last Ballers release) I was able to advance several levels fairly quickly. And the more I

played the faster the levels came.

To shorten your learning curve, readthe instructions before jumping into the game.

Typical of NBA Ballers, there are a number of flashy moves to flatten your opponent. Act-A-Fool moves let you show off your skills whether it s a behind-the- back dribble, an ally oop dunk, or a pass off the backboard.

There are also moves I ve never seen before. Although most of them would be impossible for a real player on a real court defended by a real opponent, they make the game fun and remind me of some of the moves we used to try.

The graphics were stunning and the players had a real look but not feel. Like many sports games, the players seem to be skating on ice and running at a slow trot.

Jump shots and dunks were well done, and the sound effects of the rim and squeaking shoes were right on target. The sound track was another plus. It has an urban, hip-hop feel to it that goes well with the game play and the flashy moves.

Animations were weak, however, as all the Ballers generally have the same celebratory taunts, which get tired after awhile.

Overall, the game isn t a slam dunk but it provided a few hours of nostalgic entertainment. I found myself trash-talking to my friends once again, this time from the couch, as I called my moves ahead of time and followed through with a super dunk to end the game, finishing with You can t hang, son! I m the Chosen One!

Contact Tom Fisher at: tfisher@theblade.com or 419-724-6148.

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