After one of the most tumultuous releases in recent memory, the new and improved “NBA Jam” has finally made its way to the HD consoles six weeks after landing on the Wii. The Xbox 360 and PS3 versions offer little in the way of new gameplay, but they do include one unfortunately missing feature from the Wii version; online play. While most of my original review still holds true, I wanted to revisit the game, and see whether or not the changes that EA included help improve on an already enjoyable experience.
Nothing’s changed from my Wii review, except the addition of the online features, and achievements/trophies and the subtraction of motion controls.
The obvious selling point of this version of “NBA Jam” is online play, and that’s pretty much all it is. You have your choice playing against one or three other people in competitive or co-op games mimicking the same experience of local multiplayer. In addition to the standard games, you can take any of the Remix modes online, from 21 to Smash. It’s a nice addition, and offers as similar to the home experience as possible.
Much like “Call of Duty” and a host of other online multiplayer games, “NBA Jam” allows you to create a personalized online card to house all your player information. It’s not nearly as robust as “Black Ops,” but it still features unlockable backgrounds, names and icons that should give players some incentive to invest some time online.
Yes, it’s on the lows side as well. The online isn’t perfect, but when it works it’s great. Finding a match usually takes more time than it should, and then once you’re connected staying that way wasn’t always a guarantee (mostly because there’s no penalty for dropping out of a game you’re losing). While those are the standard complaints for any online game it’s proves that “Jam” is no different. Also, watch out for the ally-oops online, they’re impossible to block.
In place of motion controls the new versions of “Jam” come with optional analog stick controls. Essentially, the entire game can be played dual-analog style with the different directions taking the place of the face buttons. Thankfully it’s just an option. “Jam” doesn’t require the precision that a racing game might, but pressing an holding the X button to shoot is still way more reliable than pulling back the analog stick to get set and then pushing it forward to follow through with your shot.
This version of “Jam” is essentially the same as the Wii version, just with an online component layered on top, but that’s enough to make it the definitive edition. However, it needs to be stressed that the online play is no substitute for playing someone in the same room. While it offers another human being to play (virtually) all the time, hitting that buzzer beater from half court to take the win just isn’t as satisfying when you can’t see your opponent’s face.