If there is one hoop game Midway is good at, it’s NBA Ballers. The last time we had fun with their franchise was on the Playstation 2. We are amazed to see the same level of high-energy fantasy street ball still lives in the present, and you’ll find it in Midway’s latest offering NBA Ballers: Chosen One. The game is all about elaborate tricks, flashy ankle-breakers, and outrageous dunks, which have been the trademark that made the franchise a reputable one. But more importantly, it’s the storyline of starting from rags to riches that appeal to many hoopsters, living that dream of fame and luxury. And the road to stardom doesn’t always mean facing wanna-be NBA athletes but going up against the pros of today’s NBA.

You’re going to love what the new NBA Ballers has for you. First, Midway did an amazing job with creating your player, giving you access to practically everything, from designing your nickname to choosing hundreds of cool apparels, including shoes, shirts, and jewelries to name a few. Second, the story mode has been tweaked a bit with basketball courts spread out among a number of crazy locations such as an airport hanger, penthouse suite, and the likes. But the number one goal of this year’s NBA Ballers is to be the “Chosen One.” To do that, you need to get into the story mode. The story mode is made up of six episodes, each having five chapters. The way the story works is that each year the top NBA players in the league compete in a tournament. Whoever wins that tournament is crowned the Chosen One.

The game plays a lot like its predecessor. You’ll spend most of your time in one-on-one battles with a specific objective to complete, such as pulling off a particular special move, playing 21 instead of 11, or aiming for a sweet spot in a soft drink commercial. These episodes are introduced in ESPN style segment with Public Enemy’s Chuck D as your host. Moreover, the game lets you pump up your skills as you win each match. The skill points are based on your performance from the previous battle. Using the shoulder buttons with the face buttons, you can extend your level of performance by executing flashy ankle-breakers and hitting those hot spots that fill up your juice meter, sort of a game-breaker in NBA Street. The meter has different gauges in which each layer serves a different purpose that either guarantees you with a block, a steal, a long distance 3-pointer, a successful juke, or that game-ending monster jam!

It’s nice to see those super moves are of great use, unllike in the previous installments, they were more of a nuisance than a collaborative tactic. You should take advantage of filling up your meter quickly! Your opponents don’t stand a chance once your meter is full. With so many ways of blowing out your opponent, you’re practically guaranteed a victory! Midway stays true to its arcade roots, which makes NBA Ballers: Chosen One relatively easy to pick up. But don’t expect any easy boards. The game may have been built for casual gamers, but going for rebound is sometimes impossible. One of NBA Ballers’ outstanding features is the act-a-fool combos. It’s initiated by holding a shoulder button and face button together, then the button icons appear on the screen, and you have to press them as quickly as you can.

What’s amazing with Chosen One is the superb collection of NBA superstars in the game. There are more than 65 licensed players! You have a hefty lineup of legends, which include Dr. J, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, and many more! In the gameplay department, there are a few issues that need to be pointed out. At certain part of the game, the controls become somewhat unresponsive. And we did notice minor clipping problems with dunking. Fortunately, they are not rough enough that it would affect the flow of the action on the court. The one aspect that we would change in this year’s NBA Ballers, however, is getting rid of the goal tending and charging; they don’t belong in this arcade setting.

Graphically, NBA Ballers: Chosen One is the best looking one in the franchise. The cut scenes are incredible and you could easily see their prominence during the introduciton of big-time athletes. Players are lifelike and move like their real counterparts. With respect to animation, the developer just went overboard in that department; you’ll find no shortage of great-looking dunks, crazy crossovers, and cheap alley-oops from someone standing by the baseline. The basketball courts have their own interesting funky designs to them and outrageous locations like playing at a rooftop in Dubai or on a remote moutain in China. In terms of physical play, running, diving, and shooting the ball are very smooth in this game.

In the audio front, the play-by-play commentary from Chuck D is pretty good and we’re just glad that he doesn’t repeat the script too often. The sound effects fair better than most street ball games out there but the musical piece is somewhat subdued. It looks like the developer has channeled most of their efforts into the action on the court, leaving the audio amenities with a few good soundtracks. Needless to say, NBA Ballers: Chosen One is a solid basketball game. It delivers what casual players want, which is an arcade-style sports title, with outrageous dunks, impressive locales, incredible NBA roster, and most importantly a fun gameplay. Controls are little unresponsive in some areas but sleek presentation has ways of you forgetting that. If you’re looking for one-on-one in your face basketball experience that suit your casual style, then NBA Ballers: Chosen One is the right package for you.


Emmanuel Flores
Emmanuel Flores

Emmanuel joined the team in 2004. He helped design the website during the time when video games magazines were still in print format. Besides writing reviews, he is responsible for quality assurance and content distribution.