Not much of a realistic simulator, this one is rather a funny arcade, both for basketball fans and casual players. But still, it has gained much popularity and deserves your attention.
Though as cartoonish as can be, the game shows off its licensed content (what do the basketball stars think about being “the game content”? well, they signed up for this). The cards represent real players of all times, though a little caricature, but quite recognizable. The designers added the most fabulous elements of style (like Oscar Robertson’s sideburns to Magic’s shorts. The most favorite tricks are also replayed in the stars’ movements.
The best about the sound is the game’s OST. Full of rocking music, it adds the drive to the game.
With no intention to recreate real matches, the game offers 2v2 stands in a casual playground (though your teammate and your rivals are, as we said, real stars). The player you control is highlighted by a circle that also displays the player’s stamina. Tricks consume energy, so you’ll have to rest a little before showing something extraordinary. The rest is about timing and reading your opponents’ actions.
To randomize the match, there are elements like Lottery Picks that provide you with some incredible bonus when they fill. But the AI can also have some random ace in its sleeve, so it’s a two-sided coin.
The way you collect your team to select players from is organic: you receive an initial set of cards with some stars, and then get more packs as the prizes.
There are three basic modes: Exhibition (quick separate matches), Tournament (of four games each) and Online Match. The latter needs to be unlocked in Tournaments, so the quicker you succeed in this, the sooner you’ll play against human rivals.
As you play on PC, you can use both a controller and a keyboard. But we must warn you that a keyboard (even if you’re a very experienced key presser) won’t give you even half that drive you get with an Xbox controller.
At your tutorial, the hotkeys are displayed at the bottom of the screen so that you can learn them by heart (or rather by hand). On the keyboard, use the WASD to move your character, and the given keys to play basketball tricks (elbow, dunk, dribbling, shots and steals, and so on). Interactions between players, like alley-oops, are also controlled by special hotkeys. They are distributed all over the keyboard, so you can use both hands (for example, dribbling moves are set to numeric pad).
And what about the mouse? There’s no country for mice in the playground. You even navigate the menu with a keyboard. It’s just easier to imply unified controls this way, it seems.
Replay Value: 5
Even after you mastered the game, it’s still got a lot of unplayed cards in its sleeves. You may try all the pair combinations, or change your style, or just watch and learn the animations of AI players. That makes the replay value of NBA Playgrounds virtually infinite.
The great return of arcade-style basketball games is a fact. It has some flaws that will be surely fixed in updates. But it’s already playable and enjoyable (unless you haven’t got a controller for your PC!)
- Graphics 4.5
- Gameplay 5
- Controls 5
- Replay Value 5
Impressive graphics, something unserious but elaborate
Nostalgic arcade style on a new level
Too many unreadable random situations
A bit overpriced