Video Game Roundup: NBA Jam, Wii Party, FIFA Soccer 11
If you grew up in the nineties, you may remember something called an arcade, and one game that probably stands out is NBA Jam. The two-on-two action was all about scoring, high-flying dunks, and unsportsmanlike shoving, and the new NBA Jam brings all of that raucous action back in a big way on Nintendo Wii.
While you won't see any three-second violations or illegal defense calls in NBA Jam, you will see the one golden rule of basketball in full display: put the ball in the hole. NBA Jam adds its own rule on top of that: do it in as flamboyant a way as possible!
Dunks are the centerpiece of NBA Jam, as superstars of the NBA perform jams that involve flips, cartwheels and pyrotechnics. Defense plays an integral part of the game as well, with blocks, steals and shoves all easily executed so you can get back to the dunking action.
The game can involve up to four players at the same time, and there are two ways to control your guys. The first way involves the Wii remote and nunchuk, and the jamming as you lifting your remote up and quickly down in rhythm to ensure your dunk is successful. It takes some getting used to, but there's a Jam Camp option to get you up to speed quickly. The other way is with a classic or GameCube controller plugged in, and while it's not as animated, it'll be the method of choice for many gamers.
With unlockable characters like yesterday's NBA greats (Dennis Rodman, Scottie Pippen, Patrick Ewing) and even political opponents (President Obama? Sarah Palin?), EA has done NBA Jam proud, and has delivered one of the best Nintendo Wii games yet.
Games.com Score: Five (out of five BOOMSHAKALAKAs!)
More info on Joystiq:NBA Jam
Wii Party is in many ways a perfect Nintendo Wii game. If you've ever tried the motion-sensing Nintendo Wii, you'll know how easy it is to just hop into a game, and games like Wii Party ensure that players of all ages and skill levels can have fun together.
Developed by the folks who created the Mario Party series, Wii Party offers 80 minigames that are tailor-made for up to four players at the same time. These games vary from having players fight each other American Gladiator-style in a boxing game to a bingo game with all of your Miis involved, and some of them require two or more players to work together to achieve the game's goal. A particular highlight is a "hot potato" style game that will have players gently passing the Wii remote to each other very carefully because, if the remote shakes too much, you lose!
All of these minigames are laid out in a cool virtual board game that should be familiar to anyone who has ever played anything involving some dice and game pieces, so the action is very easy to follow, and the pace moves quick enough so no one should get bored very easily. With all of the minigames and the accessibility to gamers of all ages, Wii Party may just be the perfect Wii game for parties of all sizes.
Games.com Score: Four (out of five party hats)
More info on Joystiq: Wii Party
FIFA Soccer 11
FIFA Soccer has been the game of choice for many soccer fans around the world, and it is constantly one of the highest-selling games of the year. The problem with games that come out every year is that a developer could get lazy and rest on their laurels, content with just offering up a roster update but nothing significantly new to the series. Thankfully, FIFA Soccer 11 shows no signs of just sitting still, and instead improves on many aspects of the series.
Always a gorgeous game, FIFA Soccer 11 improves the visuals of the game with some great additions to the presentation and graphics. Players look more detailed and different from each other, and part of that could be the Personality Plus technology EA is touting for FIFA Soccer 11. Big-name players have special animations created just for them, and should be familiar to anyone who tunes in regularly for some soccer action.
As far as the gameplay, things are pretty similar to FIFA Soccer 10. The dribbling animations seem tighter, and it feels like you react quicker while moving down the pitch with the ball. Passing and shooting are also tight, and overall the gameplay follows the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality. It's good fun, just nothing new. That's not a bad thing!
A few new modes have made it into FIFA Soccer 11, including a Be A Goalie mode that is worth some time to experiment. It's actually very tough to pull of saves, and this mode can become monotonous for many, but it's a cool feature to try out at least once. Other little additions include the ability to control your goal celebration and a new Creation Center that allows you to make your custom teams and players on the FIFA website for later importing onto your console.
Bottom line, if you're a soccer fan, there's very little reason not to pick up FIFA Soccer 11. It delivers some of the best soccer gaming available on a home console, and is one of the best sports games of 2010. (PS - If you're a Facebook gamer, check out FIFA Superstars for some unlockables in the actual game!)
Games.com Score: Four (out of five slide tackles)