NBA Playgrounds Review


  • May 9th, 2017
  • Xbox One
  • Saber Interactive / Mad Dog Games


NBA Playgrounds is a attempt to bring back the arcade style of basketball that games such as NBA Jam and NBA Street were known for. Does Playgrounds bring back that fun vibe or does this ball just not have enough air in it?

The gameplay is a two on two arcade style basketball game. It is faster paced and requires minimum skill or planning, in a game like this taking your time will likely result in you losing the ball. Your first game will feel too fast and you’ll end up just button mashing likely leading to many missed shots and turnovers. Quickly though you’ll get the hang out of it but sadly thats when the flaws start to show. Stealing the ball for one thing is exceptionally overpowering as is the shove move.

Where as in games like NBA Jam slam dunks were a huge part of the game with tons of different dunks being present, Playgrounds somehow misses that mark. More often than not my dunks were the same and the deeper I got into the game I found myself rarely even using them. Especially during the later matches where you will be facing AI that is on top of their game I found myself just constantly shooting 3 pointers which is what the AI often did as well. Releasing your shot at the perfect time as well adds a extra point so watching the AI repeatedly score 4 pointers to where you’ll never recover did get old fast.

One odd thing Playgrounds does is that not all players are unlocked from the start. New players are unlocked by completing matches and leveling your XP level up (note that the XP system does nothing in game). These card packs are completely random and can either unlock new players or if already unlocks gives that player a XP boost. This was a interesting twist since there are no microtransactions and all can be unlocked in game. However this all turns into a game of pure lock and I opened up multiple packs of 5 cards where 3-5 were repeats.

The graphics are bright and colorful with 6 different courts for you to play across. It has the arcade look to it but some different players just look too messed up and not in the fun arcade way I assume they wanted. The soundtrack and commentary for the game is decent but repeats itself too much to be able to enjoy for any long sessions.

Overall. NBA Playgrounds is a fun game. With the $20 price tag though I think it might be a little too overpriced for the fact that the game play becomes stale and later levels face you off against AI that seemed to rarely miss any shots. This is a game that old school fans might not like and everyone else should wait for a sale on.

Score : 5/10

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