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It’s basketball season in Korea and the league has started to get competitive, but the court isn’t the only place to enjoy the game.
Following the series of soccer games that swept onto Playstation and X-Box, online game companies are offering up the “street basketball” game “Free Style,” by JC Entertainment.
There are two big online players providing this game, Paran and Joy City, and both have league setups for regular players. I chose the Paran network simply because there are more online gamers there using “Free Style.”
Unfortunately, once a character has been created in one network, you can’t carry it over to the other, so if you plan to play with friends, make sure that you’re all using the same network.
Don’t imagine any NBA-style games with “Free Style,” because that isn’t what this game is about. This is what they call “hip-hoop” ― a version of basketball influenced by hip-hop style.
As you may have guessed from the name, the rules of basketball aren’t strictly observed in this game; players can pass to their teammates by bouncing the ball off a wall, or they can kick the ball if it’s on the floor. The moves are similar to what you might see in a pickup game among teenagers in a park.
Users can make a designer court by choosing from among different settings before the start of a game. The game has half-court and full-court options; there can be up to three players on a team. (Full-court is only an option if you’re playing a three-on-three game.)
The position of your player is up to the gamer, but in the lower levels there isn’t much difference. But keep in mind that once decided, players cannot switch positions.
Players can develop extra skills as they reach certain levels. This is the only way to upgrade your character’s ability, and if you keep on losing (as I did), you’ll find it almost impossible to get better.
Just like any other online games played in teams, beginners will spend a lot of time getting kicked out before they actually get to play. I remember waiting half an hour to get a game rolling. But the better your character gets, the easier it will be to get on a team.
There is a practice court, but don’t expect to play a warm-up game here against the computer or against other players. It’s designed for solo practice only, which makes it quite useless for honing team skills.
The most you can do is practice shooting and get used to the keys. I suggest you take the opportunity to master shooting and faking a shot, since the two moves are performed with the same key.
During the game, a narrator comments on your moves. I wasn’t a good player, so this became rather humiliating. Every time an opponent scored or stole the ball, I had to hear things like “It’s so easy to make a fool out of you!”
There are three leagues ― rookie, major and all-star. Each league ranks the top five players in every position and also chooses an MVP every month.
Personally, I would rather watch a real basketball game than go through the steps of teaching a character to play “Free Style.” For gamers who aren’t big basketball fans, this isn’t the one for them.

by Joe Eun-hye
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