Heat up the oven because EA’s slamming the biscuits. They’re “On Fire,” bringing their A-Game with the release of NBA Jam: On Fire Edition, souping up last year’s not so up to par version of arguably one of the greatest sports arcade games to ever touch your fingertips.
Last year in 2010 EA released a revival of NBA Jam which came with upgrades of the original version but didn’t seem as well planned out as it should have been. A year later they fixed their mistakes, added some gasoline, and brought to us the finely tuned On Fire Edition. This updated version adds more realistic characteristics to each player, changes around the “Jam Road Trip” for the greater good, and adds a better A.I. system into the mix.
To make this Slam Jam Bam experience more enjoyable and realistic EA has brought in something that they like to call “R.E.A.L. A.I.” which stands for Record, Evaluate, Adapt, Learn. This basically means exactly what it sounds like. During gameplay the game records everything that the player does and stores it for use. Once stored, whenever the system recognizes a similar situation it evaluates the best solution and adapts, giving the A.I. a more human-like feel. I think that this is definitely a great addition to the game because it makes you think of other ways to score rather than doing the same thing over and over, basically bringing your ball game to the next level.
If you’re trying to get a quick game going then get your dunk on with “Jam Now” mode. This is a simple and solid mode for playing with up to three friends, whether they be in your living room or Korea using EA’s online feature. In “Jam Now” mode players are allowed to select special unlocked teams and privileges such as big head, which can be purchased using what they call Jam Points. Jam Points are just Jam’s form of money; with it you can unlock everything the game has to offer. You earn jam points by simply playing matches. Points accumulate slow in Jam Now mode, but much faster in a mode called Road Trip.
Jam Road Trip is the same mode that you remember but buffed up some notches with a few fantastic changes that make this mode a lot more enjoyable. On last year’s version the player had to win all of the first matches against the team in a division in order to unlock the next set of matches. Now you can play any team in any order no problem, which to me makes this much less rough. Now the matches are broken up into three different medal challenges: bronze, silver, and gold. All of the bronze matches are the classic 2v2 games.
Trying to get your ankles broken? Why not play a real person with Jam’s Online Arena Mode. This mode, as the name suggests, is Jam’s main online competitive mode which gives players online weekly ladder tournaments that they can play alone or with a friend. A timer is given which is viewable from the Online Arena menu that resets every week. Each player has until the clock counts down to zero to make as many wins as possible. Each time you win your Arena meter slowly fills up. Once full, you receive a new medal starting from bronze and going up. Each time you gain the same medal a multiplier shows up next to that medal on your Jam card showing how many times it was received. This adds to the satisfaction of winning and comparing scores.
SHABOOOOSSSHHHHH! And they’re still on fire with one of NBA Jam’s most attractive attributes, the ever-appealing ability to be “on fire”. For those whom have been in a coma living under three rocks with no friends, once a single player makes three baskets or dunks in a row without the other team scoring that character is given the “on fire” ability. This ability gives the character unlimited boost ability which makes you run faster and helps you with special moves until the other team can end your hot streak by scoring a point. EA’s scored on us with a new version of fire, “team fire”. You achieve Team Fire by making three alley-oops in a row which will have both of your players running down the court like adrenaline filled junkies. Unlike Solo Fire, Team Fire is given to you for twenty seconds unless the opposing team scores one Alley-oop.
Call him Spinbad because he just sailed past the competition. If you’re in this for the catch phrases EA’s brought back all of the ones you loved by NBA Jam’s legend of an announcer, Tim Kitzrow. This man makes every single dunk, shoot, miss, and broken ankle seem like the highlight of the game.
EA is always giving out some fantastic features when it comes to bonus teams, features, and cheats. NBA Jam On Fire Edition provides you with a great deal of unlockable teams such as The Democrats, Beastie Boys, and characters from the famous snowboarding SSX series. The content ranges from amazing Ninja Teams all the way down to icons and banners that other players can see online.
The controls of the game are the same as the last with a small change; you are given a new move called pivot where the players can twist and push off the opposing team. This can be very useful when you are having a hard time making it to the basket. The rest are the same, namely the back bumpers are your boost which add a little extra kick to any action you execute while being held. If your trying to steal the ball while holding the boost you fiercely push down the opposing player creating an opportunity to steal the ball, and when try to trick your way by it gives you a spin move so on and so forth. They are a little hard to get down at first but by your third game it’s all net.
The visuals of the game have been stepped up just a notch increasing the smoothness of the players, making the court look better, and adding in extra thing such as leaving fiery foot prints on the court while on fire. The changes may sound little but they definitely add on to the gameplay making everything a lot more enjoyable to watch, adding excitement to every dunk slammed on your opponents.
NBA Jam is definitely a smoking and amazing addition to anyone’s collection. For all of the veterans it will definitely bring you back, but it’s also a great game for newcomers. Your burning desire to yell in the faces of your friends with an oversized ego inflated by an amazing cross up to dunk will be fully satisfied. I know from firsthand experience. Thanks for the memories, EA.