BattleBall on Facebook: Explosive graphics, but where's the game?

"Boy, that sure is a nice tech demo," I thought to myself as I watched lithe street ballers destroy backboards with shattering force in BattleBall's preliminary matches. Standing as one of the few basketball games on Facebook, BattleBall was developed by Schell Games and backed by Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks. While the game makes impressive use of the Unity 3D graphics engine, BattleBall sadly does nothing to explore the power of three dimensions. In fact, this game could have easily been presented in Flash-based 2D and absolutely nothing would have been different. Well, the explosions would be less prominent.

But should that be the basis for the quality of a game? Absolutely not. There are plenty of games on Facebook that make effective use of the Unity engine like Milmo and EA Sports PGA Golf. They do this by allowing players to navigate the space and interact with objects in that space. BattleBall does none of that, yet presents its scenarios in flashy 3D graphics and animation.

BattleBall in action
Now, that isn't to say that it looks bad. In fact, this game looks amazing on Facebook. The amount of depth on the court and the details of its surroundings is certainly an accomplishment. (Especially considering its on a platform not even meant for gaming.) But as soon as you begin a shoot-out with an opponent, it's completely out of your hands. Your customized avatar, based on the equipment you provide him through the in-game store, will simply go through the motions. Whether or not your player thwarts your opponents' attempts or sneaks past the opposition to make a reverse dunk--and deplete its health bar--is entirely up to his level and whatever special equipment he has on.

I use the words "your player" because, in reality, you're not an active participant in the explosive dunk mongering. Even correctly timing certain abilities like "Dunk" or "Swat" during the sequences would have introduced some engaging gameplay. It's strikingly odd that the game includes achievements considering none of them would be the result of your skill. Rather, the achievements are more like milestones or tallies of inevitable happenings. As you increase in level, you will gain access to new environments, which are surely a treat to look at, but don't touch!

BattleBall dunk
Well, you can't anyway, so don't worry about it. Aside from the ability to play with your friends asynchronously every few hours and the impressive graphics, BattleBall simply doesn't bring anything new to the table where it counts most in games that revolve around the thrill of competition: gameplay. With such slick animation, BattleBall could be the ultimate basketball game on Facebook, if it introduced deeper interactivity. If you want to help ensure that happens by sticking around, give BattleBall a shot--it has potential in the truckloads.

Click here to play BattleBall on Facebook Now>

Have you tried BattleBall yet on Facebook? What type of gameplay do you want from a sports game on Facebook? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.
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