NBA Playgrounds is an arcade-style basketball game with colorful and cartoony graphics that, at first, seems to be the spiritual successor to the beloved NBA Jam franchise. Does it succeed at this? Read our NBA Playgrounds review to find out!
The game is the great starting point for someone who is looking into playing an NBA game without having to go into the complex control schemes, long matches, and micromanagement you’d find in other NBA games. You can play either offline or online and try to collect all the available players in the game – the more you play and the better you do, there more players you’ll have available!
To earn the cards you must perform specific in-game feats, and then at the end of the match, you will get a pack of cards to open to add some new cards to your collection. At the start of the game you get three packs to open, and then after the tutorial game is over you will get another pack, so you will have a good selection of players to pick from early on. This does mean that most players are sorta “locked” away and must be earned, which might be a deal-breaker for some of you.
The Exhibition mode has eight locations which are unlocked as you win games. You start off in New York, and when you win that game Tokyo will be unlock for you to play. After this, you’ll end up opening Paris, London, Shanghai, Las Vegas, Seattle and Venice Beach!
As I mentioned before, the first game you play will be a tutorial match. It is here that you can learn how to block your opponents, dunk, pass the ball, and more. It is a great starting point because of the two on two formula, so you are not thrown into the deep end. You can gradually learn and practice before tackling the Tournament modes. The gameplay is surprisingly accessible due to its more arcade nature.
As for the game’s graphics, I certainly digged them! Each player is a bit of an exaggerated caricature of the real deal, which does add some extra charm to the game. Each court has been created to match the selected art style, making every scene a lively one. The music selection certainly fits each setting and helps to complement the gameplay.
The commentator is very funny, and he will crack jokes and make fun of the players on the court. He will have you laughing as you play, but if you ever feel that it is too much for your taste, you can just turn off the commentary in the options menu if you’d rather without the wisecracks every step of the wahy.
NBA Playgrounds is a very basic Basketball game for amateurs and beginners alike, so it features rather bare bones 2 on 2 Exhibition and Tournaments modes. You can play in single player with AI opponents, locally in multiplayer or even only online if you want to show your skills to the world.
My one gripe with the game is that every now and then, the controls would feel off. I’d be playing and doing great, and then the opposing team would steal the ball and my player was way out there off screen and wouldn’t run fast enough to defend. The blocking is also another issue since it didn’t trigger properly even after I followed the instructions perfectly. Hopefully the game is patched soon to improve these two things.
This NBA Playgrounds review is based on a PS4 copy provided by Saber Interactive.