This review was originally created in May 2018 for HTC, targeted to their Vive/Vive Pro (VIVEPORT). It is reproduced here without alteration.
While there are always calls for deep, high profile, and big budget virtual reality experiences, a game like Streetball Vr reminds us that there can still be a lot of fun when setting your sights a bit lower.
Streetball VR‘s window dressing of three detailed outdoor location backdrops and four different colored basketballs to choose from aside, the core of the game is simply to shoot hoops. In many ways, this plays like a souped up version of those timed mini basketball games you find at an arcade or amusement center. In fact, to further highlight how closely the developers hew to this concept, the only other mode available outside of Practice is Time Mode, which can be set to 30, 60, or 90 second intervals.
Save for the low-resolution floor and wall textures, the visuals are pleasing enough, with reasonably detailed outdoor backdrops that simulate either one of two typical neighborhood basketball courts or a driveway backboard placed just above a suburban home’s garage. While the environmental simulation is fairly nice, it can feel a bit sparse and isolated. It’s thus a welcome touch that on the two neighborhood courts there are some virtual people hanging out, although their actions are rather simple and repetitive.
To further add to the ambiance, there are a generous 32 hip-hop music tracks. While these are pretty generic sounding, the driving, intense beats do set a nice mood and help keep energy levels high. The soundtrack is included with purchase should you want to listen outside of the game. Of course, for those who find this type of music unpleasant or unneeded, you can turn off the music completely in Settings.
Whether you’re seated or standing, Streetball VR controls the same, although for the latter you’ll want to play in a room with a high ceiling so you don’t crash your motion controller into it while shooting baskets. Although both motion controllers work in the game, one is all you need, which is reflected in how your non-ball holding hand, while present from your in-game perspective, is not shown helping to cradle the ball like you would typically do with a real basketball. This lack of authenticity carries over to the throwing motion, which is more like a fling or slingshot than a traditional basketball toss. Nevertheless, despite this somewhat jarring break from the norm, the use of the motion controller and being inside the VR environment itself is still arguably more immersive than using a regular controller and simply staring at a TV or monitor.
The physics work about as well as you would hope, with a realistic bouncing ball and the expected reactions to hitting the rim and backboard. As a result of this realism, once you get the flinging motion and timing down, you can start to drain baskets fairly consistently in the oversized hoop (there’s no net, which is something of a disappointment). Of course, physics quirks can also work against you, resulting in the same types of near-misses or loose balls you can’t avoid in real life either. Fortunately, grabbing a new ball is as simple as pressing a button.
While Streetball VR is ostensibly a simulation of playing a hyped up, street-level solo game of basketball, the core experience is really stripped down to its high scoring essentials. As such, if you like the type of rapid-fire mini basketball games you might find at an arcade or amusement center, or simply think a virtual game of HORSE might be a fun way to spend some time, then this is definitely an experience worth checking out. Just make sure you avoid smashing into your ceiling.
Score: 3 out of 5
Streetball VR is available on Viveport or with a Viveport Subscription.
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