NBA Street has always been the coolest kid on the EA Sports block. Granted, that's hardly difficult: one imagines the EA Sports block as a bland paradise of picket fences, tidy lawns and clean concrete, where everyone wears pastel smart casual and buys the same car as the neighbours each year. Everything is orderly, efficient and prosperous, and all NBA Street has to do to be the coolest is show up: in a pair of Air Jordans, naturally, and ambling along in its own sweet time. (Two years between updates? Two?)
It has its coterie of hangers-on, of course - EA Sports BIG stablemates like NFL Street and FIFA Street - but they're just white-bread boys with their caps turned backwards; putting it on, aping the moves of the original and best, and not doing it very convincingly either. Basketball is much better suited than football from either side of the Atlantic to the Street style. Street means smaller sides (three on three in this case) and a fast-paced, physical game that flouts conventional rules, and introduces a wonderfully absurd, showboating trick system. In fact, not only is videogame basketball better suited, it's actually better full stop in this form: more dynamic, more sophisticated, and better to watch than regular NBA-licensed games.
NBA Street games are basically exercises in taunting. When in possession, you perform tricks with the ball, dancing around your opponents (literally dancing, many of the tricks are adapted breakdancing moves), bouncing the ball off their heads and through their legs, making them look as foolish as possible for a long as possible before attempting to score. Doing so charges your Gamebreaker meter - but only if you convert by scoring. Once it's full, you can unleash an even more outlandish arsenal of tricks in a short-term charge that will multiply the score from your next shot or dunk.
The delayed European launch has left the PlayStation 3 with something of a problem - a sizeable proportion of its debut games are already available on the Xbox 360. Indeed, the likes of Fight Night Round 3 have been maturing on the shelves for over a year, while many of the others debuted on the 360 over four months ago. Internet gossip and many online reviews also point to several of these PS3 conversions suffering in comparison to the 360 'originals', an astonishing state of affairs considering that Sony's hardware is newer technology with a price tag that dwarfs that of Microsoft's console.
Of course, it's early days for the PlayStation 3 and any new piece of gaming technology takes time for game developers to get to grips with. That said, many studios (off the record of course) are not entirely happy with the SDK that Sony provides for PlayStation 3 development. The word is that Microsoft's programming environment gives better results more quickly. There's also the question of memory - Xbox 360 gives developers a full 512MB to do with as they will. PlayStation 3 on the other hand divides its internal RAM into two 256MB portions, with one section dedicated entirely to the NVIDIA-derived graphics technology. Up until recently, 64MB of the PS3's system memory was also sectioned off for OS use only, meaning that memory becomes far more of a precious commodity when developing on the Sony platform.
Clearly the PS3 is far from technically deficient up against the 360. While the 360's triple-core PowerPC CPU is an extreme piece of technology, Cell is no slouch in itself. It may only have a single core, but its satellite SPU processors are astonishingly powerful - just one of them can decode 300 MP3s simultaneously in real-time, and there are six of them available to be used in concert while the main CPU runs the core game logic.