NBA JAM: On Fire Edition is out--available via Xbox Live and PlayStation Network--and the Sports Gamer has played it. So is this edition of the game on fire? Here's the answers.
THE GOOD: The game is cheaper than the 2010 version--around $15 versus the original price of $49.99. And it's downloadable, which means you'll need a Net connection to get it, but you won't have to make a trip to the game store. The core 2-on-2 experience feels deeper in On Fire than it did in the original. The game's developer, EA Sports, took a step away from some of the silliness of the last game--boss battles, half-court games, etc.--and instead focused on making the gameplay experience smoother and more responsive. The result: Moves like ankle breaking dribbles and monster jams seem to roll off your fingertips with ease in On Fire. If you're playing solo, you can now call for an "oop" or a "shove" on the fly from your A.I.-controlled teammate--simply hit the left bumper button and boom, it's happening. How cool is that? Also: An entire team can now catch on fire in the new game, as opposed to having individual players catch on fire in the original. Finally, there's also a new online co-op campaign called Road Trip and a new tournament mode called Arena.
THE BAD: Is this the best version of NBA Jam ever made? It absolutely is. But if you already own last year's version of the game, it's tough to justify the purchase of On Fire.
THE UGLY: I'm sorry, but big-head mode isn't funny anymore. Nor is a basketball that looks like an eyeball. OK, maybe the basketball-that-looks-like-an-eyeball is still kind of funny…
The Sports Gamer's real name is Scott Jones. He played football for 12 years before hanging up his cleats and jumping into video game writing. In his time covering the gaming world, Scott has interviewed star athletes such as Venus Williams, Tony Hawk and David Wright.