Reviewed: July 28, 2006
Released: June 6, 2006
AND 1 has done for street hoops what the Harlem Globetrotters did (and continues to do) for hardwood hoops. Both “teams” focus more on style than scoring, but then again, you seldom see these players miss a shot. AND 1 blends stylish moves and fancy footwork with the underlying goal to shame their opponents with those very same moves.
For those who have never heard of AND 1 and don’t know the difference between an Ankle breaker and an ankle biter, you might find the library of 130+ moves a bit daunting, and that’s before you even start exploring the create-a-move feature. And with more than 60 real-world ballers included in the game, you’ll be able to sample just about every aspect of the AND 1 style of basketball.
AND 1 Streetball features a modest story mode that focuses on you and your custom-created player who lives for the daily sessions of hoops down at the park and dreams of the day he can join the AND 1 team. It just so happens that the AND 1 tour is in town and they are recruiting. Can you make the cut?
The AND 1 Mixtape Tour is the core mode for this game and once you join the team you will get to travel around the country participating in various events in each city. You have Open Run where you go up against local amateurs as well as Side Games that are really nothing more than ongoing tutorials to keep you up to speed with the latest moves. In additional to scoring 11 points first, these games might also require certain secondary goals, almost like Tony Hawk challenges.
The final mode is the Main Run where the best of the amateurs play the AND 1 team and the best of those players move onto the next session in the tour. As you win each stage within each city you’ll earn cash that you can use to upgrade your skills, clothes, and bling. You can also spend your excess cash to unlock real movies of the real AND 1 players in action.
As cool as all this might sound, the story just doesn’t motivate you to play and you have no real desire to accomplish any of the side missions. They are merely fodder to flesh out an otherwise lacking career mode. There are some multiplayer modes included for local and online play for up to four gamers. It’s all pretty standard stuff, but due to some poor controls and dismal gameplay on the court, you’re likely not going to tolerate the game long enough to explore half of what is here.
AND 1 takes a unique approach to street hoops, perhaps even more unique than Midway’s NBA Ballers series. The game is all about the “moves” and the tutorial will try to ease you into the complicated system of chaining multiple levels of setup, showboat, and anklebreakers. I’m usually pretty quick to pick up on these games, but for some reason I just couldn’t grasp these funky concepts. Thankfully, this was due more to some dysfunctional controls than my own skills.
AND 1 revolves around respect and dazzling the crowd with your flashy moves. To than end you must perform and ideally chain multiple levels of moves as you zig and zag your way to the hoop. It’s all about building up the crowd meter then putting the ball in the net to cash in those points. If you screw up or lose the ball you lose any points you might have built up.
Fans of other extreme hoops games like NBA Jam and even NBA Street will see several familiar concepts at work here, but none of them really attain the same level of excellence in this game as they did in their original titles. Sadly, this again boils down to glitchy gameplay and poor controls.
AND 1 uses the analog sticks to initiate moves. To pull off a level 1 move you push the right stick in any of eight directions. This is followed by the left stick, the same stick you move with, to combo into the second move. Then, if you haven’t screwed it up yet and want to instigate an anklebreaker you need to use both analog sticks and the right trigger. Yes, it’s as confusing and dysfunctional as it sounds and totally ruins the game.
And to make matters even worse, there is a strict timing element in play here that requires you to chain these moves together with precise timing, but you have no on-screen indication, either with a meter or even player animation, to indicate when to chain a move or when it’s too late to try. Ultimately, you’ll be trying to perform step 2 of a 3-step combo, but will have missed the “window” and your player will just be running around in circles because the left stick is no longer doing tricks but merely moving your player.
And just when you think it can’t get any worse you can toss in some problematic collision detection and animation glitches that are so bad it can actually hamper the gameplay. Players pass through other players or get hung up on unseen courtside objects and even the ball can pass through solid objects. Some of these glitches are as humorous as they are puzzling – glitches like players facing one way and shooting the other.
Considering how long this game has been in development this is a sad state of affairs for quality assurance. It’s almost as if Black Ops was more focused on the AND 1 license than it was in making a quality basketball game.
Aside from all the aforementioned glitches, AND 1 is a rather remarkable game, or at least it has its moments of brilliance. The characters look good and animate well and the environments are engaging with nice lighting and visual details to bring these urban courts to life.
Menus and setup screens are functional and the in-game HUD is minimal so you can focus on the gameplay. The game supports both 480p and 720p, which keeps things smooth and jaggy-free for players with HDTV’s.
At its core, AND 1 has the standard sounds of Streetball. Unfortunately, these are overshadows by endless and repetitive smack and trash talking, which I suppose is a part of the “humiliation” aspect of this cultural phenomenon, but if you are going to be dishing out one-liners every ten seconds, you need more than a dozen of them. I was so sick of the “random” trash talk that it became painful to play the game.
For those who enjoy urban hip-hop and rap music you will love the soundtrack from DJ Green Lantern. If you don’t, then the game does support custom soundtracks so you can insert whatever tunes you like.
I’m guessing here, but I’d say you can probably finish the Mixtape Tour in 12-15 hours if you enjoy glitchy gameplay and impossible controls. The multiplayer doesn’t fix any of these issues and going online only serves to introduce some significant lag when you try to chain those moves together, only making the timing issue even more problematic.
I’ve never followed AND 1 before this game and I probably won’t follow it now. I respect what those guys can do with their feet and with a ball, and I think this game does them a huge disservice. It’s an ambitious project and including 130+ moves is a great idea, but only if you give me a control scheme where I can do at least a fraction of them without tossing my controller through a wall.
I’d typically say this game was rushed out the door but it’s been in the works for at least two years now, so that can’t be the case. And when you are coming in on the coattails of Midway’s Phenom game, you need to grab the gamer hard and fast. This game just smacks you around and leaves you dazed and confused.
Unless you are a huge AND 1 fan, please avoid this game, otherwise find some cheat codes and unlock the movies. They are the only thing worth public consumption.