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May 13, 2008

Review: NBA Ballers: Chosen One

NBA Ballers: Chosen One
Available for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360

Like the previous games in the series, NBA Ballers: Chosen One, is a fast-and-loose basketball game with one-on-one games played on a half court instead of the usual five-on-five game on a full court. Midway also remove a lot of the rules and threw in some of their own to spice up the game.

Chosen One follows the story of an unknown, up-and-coming street baller as he works to make a name for himself by participating in a fictional, off-season basketball tournament full of the sport’s biggest names. The tournament is broken up into six episodes, each with five chapters; starting with the newbie’s introduction to the high-profile event and ending with his eventual supremacy.

Before you hit the court though, players are tasked with first creating their custom basketball player. The create-a-player system, while not as good as what you’d find in Tiger Woods Golf series, still works on nicely for the most part. You'll pick a nickname, assign an allotment of attribute points to get your career rolling, and then hit the court for the very first time. Attribute progression is handled a bit differently in Chosen One, as the game auto-assigns these points based on how you played the game, rather than let you perform your own point allocation. I personally am not great at sports games and found the auto assign feature perfect to even out my player’s skills, but hardcore basketball fans may not agree with me.

Each episode is broken up into chapters, each of which has a fighting game-like ladder of matches you must win to proceed. Most of these are pretty standard, though the game starts throwing in special rules later on, like games where you have to pull off a bunch of combo moves before you win, or games that can only be won by performing a certain move right at the end the game. While the rules keep the game interesting, your AI opponent doesn’t even trying to pull off these game ending moves, which tends to make these challenges less than, well … challenging.

My other problem with special rules games was that if I couldn‘t figure out how to complete a move and the manual didn‘t tell me how to either, I was stuck button mashing for hours just trying to figure out a move or in one example, trying to get a crowd member to pass you a ball, just so you can make a basket to finish a game. Stuff like this frustrates me and made the game more work than fun.

One cool addition to the series is baller introductions where you get to see each basketball superstar arrive in style to each match. This really adds to the fun of facing these boss ballers in the game, but unfortunately, the intros are limited to just a few players, and you only find them in story mode. Now, give every player his own intro like wrestling games do and that would be cool.

Online play is available and playing some real people actual provides more of a challenge for anyone finding the single player modes to easy, however if your opponent doesn’t know how to block level three super dunks then you might find this mode boring for you too. I know I lost to a lot pros online because I failed to block this move in time.

As far as basketball games go, NBA Ballers may not be the best game for true fans of the b-ball, but if you’re looking for some b-ball that goes a little more off the beaten path, then NBA Ballers is that game. Its multiplayer experience is perfect for a night of beers with the boys and the intro videos are worth a rental alone.

Rating 6.5 out of 10
Rent it!

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