This arcade-like basketball game may be fun with friends, but if you're playing by yourself, it's a bland experience. Still, most of the fun in this arcade sports game comes from watching the outrageous moves your players pull off. Whether you’re pulling off impressive picks, tossing an alley-oop to your teammate, or jamming the ball with an authoritative dunk, you'll fill up a gauge to earn a "lottery pick" play. These random power-ups can make shots unblockable, be worth extra points, or create other game-changing opportunities. These can be a blessing or a curse, depending on which side of the game you're on. On the one hand, it can be frustrating to do everything right and still watch an opponent pummel you due to a series of lucky lottery picks. On the other hand, it helps to know that you're never more than a couple trick shots away from making an impressive comeback. Plus, in multiplayer matches, filling up that lottery gauge is a great incentive to work together as a team.
The real question is, under all the flashy moves and gimmicky "lottery picks," does NBA Playgrounds really have much to offer? That's going to depend on what you're looking for. The arcade style and controls are easy to pick up and play, making the game easily accessible to players of any skill level. Plus, the two-on-two gameplay makes for quick matches, perfect for when you want to have some fast and frantic fun with friends. Those looking to go solo, though, are likely to quickly get bored with the game. The main single-player Tournament mode quickly gets repetitive, and it's not long before you feel like you're just going through the motions, especially when teaming with and playing against the AI. Worse, you're forced to grind your way through these matches to earn packs and unlock new players. With friends, NBA Playgrounds is a great sports night waiting to happen, but play alone and this arcade b-baller can't help but come up a bit flat.