NBA Playgrounds Review

First off I have to say that if you want a detailed Basketball simulation with customisation and team line ups and coaching etc etc then look too the 2K series or EA's official franchised game OK?

What you have here is a fast and fluid and for the most part fun two vs two arcade style basketball game for up to 4 players.  Like Rocket League games are fast, with a 10 minute time period though you can tweak settings via the option menu if you so desire.

You'll start on a basketball court in New York and cross the globe as you make your way through the different tournaments and tours on offer. Tournaments come in four phases and there are a fair number to go through too. 

You will play in China, Russia and Europe to name but three regions, and like some of those major titles I mentioned a while back you have the ability to improve the skills of your players. This is achieved via Plants VS Zombies Garden Warfare style card packs. They vary in rarity like any other CCG game and any duplicates you gain add a 100 XP to the player at no extra cost. What happens if you get another duplicate of a card that's already maxed out? Well I'll leave that for you to find out.

So is that all and is it fun? Well this is where we start to probe a little deeper....


Is amassed as you play. You will gain XP as a player and every time you level up you will gain a new set of card packs (like the loot boxes in Overwatch) that add to your roster and in a short matter of time I had collected over 50 players.

The characters in the game gain XP for playing games right? Well's an odd decision to me that the game designers have deemed it necessary to have the characters only win XP if they win in a tournament match, BUT in an exhibition match they gain XP for most if not all games they play in.

You see against an A.I team if you lose you will gain nothing for the team mates. I can understand not getting as many points for a victory but to get none at all seems a little harsh. You will find yourself constantly swapping and changing the duo that you use in the hope that you can get through the final of your current tournament.

So play a mixture of exhibition matches and tournament matches before moving onto the next series, that's for the best. And find (if you can) the best duo for the job.


Now if the XP system is a gripe then like me, you may well be wondering just what in the name of hell is going on when it comes to the a.i team mate. In a real game you will be able to count on your team mates to help block incoming shots on basket, intercept and impede the progress of opponents that are aiming to hinder you from scoring right?

But in this game you can find yourself haring up the court like a penguin with it's arse on fire only to find your a.i teammate is at the other end of the court jumping on the spot or not moving at all, if he is at the same end of the court as you he is sometimes found on the sidelines again stationery and not even getting in close to try and score off of a rebound off the backboard.

Surely the purpose of A.I team mates are there to give you that backup? It's even more frustrating when you realise that BOTH of your A.I opponents are working as a solid cohesive unit. This obviously is a) annoying and b) makes it darned difficult to beat an A.I opponent and make progress through the tournament circuit.

On the plus side....

The game really comes to life in local co-op or competitive mode and it shines here. With no strange A.I decisions or interactions to mar the experience, you'll have a quick fix of fast fun and light hearted arcade sports action.

Theres no need to worry about stats and figures, team management that so often slows down the pace of other larger, NBA, NHL or even wrestling sims. Take this for what it is, a fast and fun party game to be played in the comfort of your own home and on your favourite sofa.

Taking to the courts on-line...

Sadly this is another game where it falls short and doesn't quite deliver.  Finding games takes an age and even though the game in one mode should be balanced in unranked matches I have found that some teams are a darned sight better than me. (Mind you that could be a refection of my skills) and that is of course, you can actually find a game.

Once I connected it unexpectedly dropped the connection half way through on a couple of occasions and there was the matter of frame rate issues and lag. My opponent complained that it was happening at HIS end as well so it wasn't just me. And to Chuck, look I did not rage quit, I promise. It has booted me when I have been winning as well.

If bugs are ironed out...

(And I can only assume this encompasses the A.I issues I have pointed out and the connection problem) then we will have a much better experience than what we have, but this does NOT mean avoid it, far from it. I actually say it's worth getting, especially if you like playing with your mates in the comfort of your own home.

Just be aware that solo play can be an issue as well as online. Fix these issues please and maybe I can amend this review a little. You have a game that is ALMOST a must buy, it just needs a little tweaking.

Thanks X Box for the code.

P.S I have streamed this game online recently, I will be doing so again in the near future.