Although it is an official NBA product, the fact that it's playground ball liberates Street 2 from the confines of fan reverence. Instead, especially in the "Be a Legend" option, it has a great sense of humor about itself. The boss of each city, once defeated, can be added to the player's roster--and although they are caricatures, they're fondly and funnily done.
Among the best are Stretch (a dunker from Harlem), Dime (a female ballstealer who resembles the singer Pink) and Osmosis (an Oakland version of "It" player Yao Ming). Our prediction? Kids who see Street 2 will not only want to play the game, they'll want to be street legends themselves when they grow up.
And speaking of kids: parents couldn't find a kid- or teen-friendlier game. There's no adult language, and the color commentary is fantastic. It's much improved from the original game's repetitive "MJ, go on with your bad self" patter. Bobbito Garcia, a real-life streetball announcer, should get a "nice work" bonus. For that matter, so should the ambience-noise guys, who included, for example, a single cellphone ring in the background. Clever.
Those not inclined to love sports games should trust in Street 2--it's visually brilliant, witty, and don't-take-it-away-from-me addictive. True basketball fans should get this game immediately, if not sooner. They'll best appreciate that all the old time players have their moment in the sun; for example, 5,000 points unlocks Dr. J, and a billboard between sets advertises Bill Russell and other pioneers. Classic hip-hop from artists like MC Lyte rounds out the impressive package. Kudos to gamemaker EA Sports Big for taking it to the hole. --Jennifer Buckendorff
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