Volume 96, Issue 81
Wednesday, March 5, 2003

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Who steals the rock?


NBA Live 2003
EA Sports Canada


NBA 2K3
Sega Sports

By Mark Behar
Gazette Staff

So, you just came back from Reading Week and something strange occurred to you: no actual "reading" took place over the break and those early March due dates are suddenly coming at you like Pavarotti en route to a glazed ham. What's the solution to your studying woes? Same as always kids, play some video games.

To help you in your quest for mediocrity, The Gazette has put together a comparative review of the two hottest basketball games on the market: NBA 2K3 from Sega, and EA Sports Canada's NBA Live 2003.

NBA 2K3 is sponsored by ESPN, which gives the game a slick-looking TV-style interface. Unfortunately, this benefit is paired with the poor play-by-play commentary and awkward replay sequences. The background music is also pretty non-descript, hip-hop fare.

The game play of NBA 2K3 is smooth, but it has some annoying characteristics, such as an almost impossible to learn free-throw shooting system. Constantly and arbitrarily missing lay-ups can be frustrating, even if you are a seasoned Rance Mulliniks-like veteran of the game. However, button controls are fairly easy to pick up, making NBA 2K3 an ideal game to rent.

NBA 2K3 is compatible with the all-new XBOX Live system, which offers gamers the ability to play online against people across the world and rank their performances. Owners of 2K3 can even use XBOX Live to download NBA roster changes that take place during the regular season.

NBA 2K3's real strength lies in its street-ball game, which allows for match-ups of between two and five players, with nine different courts to play on. If you have a multi-tap, which allows you to hook up extra controllers to your XBOX or Playstation 2, a game of 3 on 3 or 4 on 4 with a roomful of your friends is the ideal way to play.

NBA Live 2003, on the other hand, is a more polished game, which tends to do the little things very well. The game has all of your favourite stars, including former NBA greats and actual team coaches complete with finely tailored suits. Controversial commentator Marv Albert leads gamers through stylish tutorials at both the basic and advanced levels.

The defensive controls of NBA Live appear simple enough to execute when one first picks up a controller, but in the actual game there's just no stopping the arcade-style offense. Even short contests of NBA Live 2003 can generate scores of over 100 points for each team.

The only area in which NBA Live falls behind 2K3 is in its street-ball mode. In this department, the game offers only a 1 on 1 half-court match, with three different courts to choose from. NBA Live's soundtrack, however, features Busta Rhymes, Snoop Dogg, Ghetto Fabulous and others. Type in secret codes at the create-a-player screen and you can add these artists to the team of your choice.

Don't tell me you've never wondered who'd win in a 1 on 1 contest between Busta Rhymes and Yogi Stewart. I know I have.

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2002 THE GAZETTE