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CVG
3 Reviews

NBA Jam

The fire still burns

Page 2 of 2

"You bring the peanut butter AND I'LL BRING THE JAM!" is a particular favourite of ours.

NBA Jam does everything possible to bring the adored classic up to date, then, and does it really well. The problem is that the game is a simple one - it always has been - and although that's what makes NBA Jam accessible, it harms its longevity as far as single-player is concerned.

It's tricky issue to form a definitive stance on. Back in the day, simple was the standard due to a technological ceiling, and in 2010 it's something EA Sports really has no option but to leave un-touched. To make NBA Jam any more complicated or sophisticated in any area other than presentation would be to destroy its essence.

We can't criticise the developer, but it does make us raise the question as to how much lifespan NBA Jam will really have in the world of modern gaming - especially now that it's being released as a £30 retail game rather than a download or a freebie with the canned NBA Elite 11.

Zoom

There are some attempts to shake up the single-player experience with a bit of modernity, but not all of them succeed. The Classic Campaign, for example, tasks you with beating teams consecutively, but offers little on top of a string of Exhibition matches besides a set path.

Remix Mode adds power-ups to matches providing players with extra speed, accuracy, power or invulnerability - but in NBA Jam's already over the top world, they don't add enough to really be considered a game-changer. Remix Tour is a kind of hybrid of both Remix Mode and Classic Campaign with the same issue.

Similarly, 'Smash' adds the objective of shattering your opponents backboard to win. The damage can only be done with dunks but most players will come to the game with a dunking focus anyway.

Domination provides a significant twist, though, and is a welcome addition. The aim is to win certain spots positioned around a half court by scoring from them. Since the winner is the player who dominates all the spots, this mode creates a tense to-and-fro between players and forces them to master a range of shots.

A walk-in wardrobe-load of unlockables will drive most players through the single-player modes, and the sheer novelty of basketball legends and classic rewards like a team of US Presidents make them a real incentive.

Most of the ball-blazing fun of NBA Jam, however, comes when you introduce real-life, human friends. This is a party game that people will gather around in their droves - and while the NBA Jam formula might be overly simple at times, it complements an atmosphere of fun-poking and shameless bragging.

If you loved NBA Jam in the '90s, you'll love this carefully remastered iteration. If you've got mates who share your nostalgia, you'll love it even more.

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The verdict

NBA Jam has been lovingly recreated by a team that clearly understood the appeal of the original. Get together with friends for this one.

  • Everything that made NBA Jam great brought up to date
  • Lovely, bright, shiny HD
  • Tons of smooth, crazy animations
  • Original commentary from Tim Kitzrow
  • Classic Campaign churns
  • Not all single-player life extensions work
8.6
Format
Xbox 360
Developer
EA Sports
Publisher
EA Sports
Genre
Sports

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