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  PlayStation 2
  Release Date:
  March 5, 2004
  Midway Sports
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NBA Ballers
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On the defensive end, your moves essentially range from shoving the opponent to intercepting a pass attempt made between your opponent and a player on the sidelines (when there's one available). Just don't get too carried away with the fouls, or you'll end up giving away free points to your opponent.

The game's biggest draw is its ability to allow players to create a fictional character - similar to NBA Street 2's Create a Legend mode. Features from facial hair, complexion, and body type, right down to shoe color can be customized. Once you've distributed the attributes, it's time to test your player's abilities on the court. At first, your skills are going to be pretty weak as a bunch of generic Ballers will proceed to dunk and trash you before you can say "Boomshakalaka."

Fortunately, you'll soon learn a few new moves on your own and that's where the TV show angle comes in. You probably wondered what that introduction sequence with MC Supernatural was all about, huh? It's basically like this: Ballers is actually about a reality television show looking for the next basketball sensation (psst, that could be YOU!). This is where the adventure begins. Rags to Riches is the true meat and potatoes and is where the true addiction lies. As you advance through the ranks, you'll be rewarded with more cash, which in turn can be used to purchase houses, cars, . . . ladies. It's everything you could ever hope for, being a big upcoming player like yourself. Eventually, the mode starts taking a life of its own, feeling a lot more like an RPG almost, and less like a jam session on the courts.

Structurally, Ballers offers a relatively high degree of flexibility and replay value, offering an extensive selection of moves, players, and of secrets tucked away. (Don't worry, the trademark Big Head mode is here in full effect). The production values are some of the best showcased by a Midway title since MLB Slugfest. Unquestionably, this past year was well spent and it's pretty evident from the moment you power up the game that Midway put forth a great deal of effort to deliver the most polished game possible. And on a quick note, the music, though somewhat low-key, will have you bopping all over the place - that is, if you can appreciate rap music. Props to DJ Rocky Rock . . . can someone get me the official soundtrack, please?

Our only complaint is that Ballers should've tossed in some actual trash talking amongst the players. Though to be honest, Supernatural does enough of that on his own. It's a minor quibble that won't diminish your enjoyment in any way. With over sixty NBA players to choose from and a bevy of unlockable content ranging from character outfits to full-motion video clips, Ballers takes replay value to the next level. And even after you've evolved to the caliber of a Michael Jordan or Jason Kidd in the single-player mode, don't pass up the endless opportunities to school the competition online. Overall, if you're looking for impressive product simply on the fun factor alone, we can't think of a better game worth spending time playing with.

Article originally published on The Next Level


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