NBA Playgrounds: Review
Throughout the brief history of video games, the NBA partnered with various gaming companies to capitalize on its brand and partner. This has not changed in 2017 with the creation of NBA Playgrounds. NBA Playgrounds can be played on all of the major video game platforms and is both affordable and accessible. Retailing online for $19.99, it is an entertaining game with great value for the price.
The gameplay style is exactly what you would expect. It is an NBA game with an arcade feel to it. Developed by Saber Interactive of Millburn, New Jersey, NBA Playgrounds is the first sports game for Saber Interactive, but the company has some noteworthy titles, such as Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Halo Online to name a few. Needless to say this was a risky venture taking on an NBA title.
In the past, similar NBA style game series like NBA Street and NBA Jam brought a unique perspective to unconventional basketball. If you look at the format of NBA Playgrounds it takes what worked from NBA Street and NBA Jam and brought them into one game. The game takes two on two basketball to the next level, with highflying dunks, special powers and the option to play tough defense. The gameplay is pretty simple, which makes NBA Playgrounds a ton of fun. There are the standard pass, sprint, and shoot controls, but a player has a special dribble and elbow controls in his arsenal. Defensively, a player is able to steal, push, and jump for rebounds. This game is not easy to master. It takes a lot of precision to make shots and perfect dunks. This makes for a fun challenge while learning the game. At first there was no shot meter to help when shooting the ball, but a recent update has an area to make it easier to figure out the proper release point.
The gameplay itself helps to build up a power-up meter. This can be increased by different shots that are made, dribbling with style, dunking and defensive maneuvers. Basically every aspect of basketball can help or hurt this meter. When the meter fills up a random power-up will appear. The Power-ups are as follows, 2x in the paint, 2x 3-Pointer, Speed Boost, 12” Timer, Star Shot, and Electric ball. Each of these is different in its own way. These power-ups are essential to beat the opponent.
There are two other important aspects of the game. NBA Playgrounds has adapted the card system for players. This means that when you play the game you will receive packs of cards to collect to unlock new players. It is similar to what most other sports teams do for their ultimate team mode. This is a fun way unlock players because the packs are random, well at least the game makes you think they are random. To unlock the packs in NBA Playgrounds, you must win games either online of in the tournament mode.
The tournament mode has six different locations: New York, Tokyo, Paris, Las Vegas, London, and Shanghai. Each tournament consists for four matches against the computer. If you win those matches you can unlock more levels and more packs. The tournament mode can be played in single player or two-player mode. Just pick two guys and get to work taking on some of the NBA’s best players and legends in fun outdoor basketball courts. This game even has legitimate announcers with Ian Eagle taking a break from doing Brooklyn Nets games to lend his voice to the game and EJ “The Mayor” Johnson who the commentator at the famed Rucker Park in New York. Normally, announcers on sports games are dry and boring, but these two make a great team and actually are fun to listen to.
Overall, this is another great installment of playground basketball. The price is right, the game is fun and players can push each other. Those are all things that are true of actually playing on an outdoor basketball court. Of course this game is not realistic, but that is the beauty of playing an arcade style basketball game. The dunks are ridiculous; there are power-ups and just the right amount of violence. If any basketball fan or gamer out there is looking for a fun, cheap entertaining video game, then NBA Playgrounds is the game for you.
Check out the trailer for the game here