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NBA or NCAA? Either Way, Nothing but Net.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

When it comes to basketball video games, players basically have two options: EA Sports or 2K Sports, which produce pro and college basketball titles.

NBA Live 08 is EA Sports's best NBA game to date. The glitches that have plagued this franchise since the dawn of next-generation consoles are beginning to fade. Graphics are smoother and gameplay is enhanced. Players' faces resemble their real-life countenances, and player movement less awkward than in previous years.

The most noticeable improvement is the controls. Gone are delays that hampered gameplay. When you hit a button, players react immediately.

Even better is NBA 2K8. Its gameplay is smooth, fast and lifelike, and it sets the standard for basketball gaming on next-generation consoles.

Its one flaw is the dribbling/crossover function. To dribble, you must move the controller's left thumb stick, which also controls overall movement. By comparison, NBA Live 08 uses the left thumb stick for movement and the right thumb stick for dribbling, which provides a more comfortable feel.

But NBA 2K8's player movement and game flow are what set it apart from the competition. Shooting the ball doesn't feel forced or artificial. The game does an incredible job varying shots; depending on your release, some shots go in with a nothing-but-net swish, while others hit the rim.

College hoops fans can try their hands at EA's March Madness 08 and 2K's College Hoops 2K8.

March Madness never feels like a copycat version of NBA Live. It has its own style and a slightly different feel. The game was released after NBA Live, and it features noticeable improvements in gameplay. It has plenty of sound bites from Dick Vitale (which can be a plus or minus, depending on your opinion of the enthusiastic announcer) and several crowd options.

College Hoops 2K8 feels like a clone of NBA 2K8 in looks, feel and gameplay. But that's not a bad thing. With NBA 2K8 leading the way in basketball gaming, there was no need to make any changes.

-- David Betancourt

NBA Live 08 Everyone; Wii ($50); PlayStation 2, PC ($30); Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PSP ($40) EA Sports NBA 2K8 Everyone; XBox 360, PlayStation 3 ($40), PlayStation 2 ($20)2K Sports March Madness 08 Everyone; Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 ($50), PlayStation 2 ($30) EA Sports College Hoops 2K8 Everyone; XBox 360, PlayStation 3 ($60), PlayStation 2 ($20)2K Sports NBA Live 08 Everyone; Wii ($50); PlayStation 2, PC ($30); Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PSP ($40) EA Sports

© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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