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Friday, November 21, 2008
Updated: November 23, 6:31 PM ET
Get your game on

By Jon Robinson

As we transition from football season into basketball season, it's time to check out the latest basketball video games and see how they measure up. "NBA 2K9," "NBA Live 09" and "NBA 09 The Inside" duke it out to be named the don of hardwood gaming this season.

"NBA 2K9"
What do you get when you combine the chest pounding of Kevin Garnett with the smile of Shaq? The best basketball video game on the market, that's what. "NBA 2K9" combines the signature animations of your favorite players plus throws in celebrations and facial expressions to increase the level of emotion. Kobe screams after monster dunks and Shaq flashes his trademark grin after big blocks, but the authenticity doesn't end on the court.

Association mode adds player loyalty to the free-agent mix, and the dashboard serves up headlines such as "Baron Davis Demands Trade" and "Vince Carter Surprised by All-Star Snub." This is definitely one of the best sports games of the year.

It's no secret that EA's basketball series has struggled for years. But in 2009, all those hard times are finally forgotten. "Live's" gameplay has not only improved dramatically, it's also added a revolutionary new feature, Dynamic DNA, to the mix. With Dynamic DNA, EA Sports uses up-to-date statistical data to drive artificial intelligence of the characters, which means players will finally behave more like they do in real life. If Brandon Roy always drives left, for instance, he'll always go left in the game. If Tony Parker scores off the pick and roll more than half the time in real life, that's how he'll try to score in "Live." EA Sports will update this data every day during the regular season to keep the information fresh and as accurate as possible. It could be the most realistic simulation ever created.

game controller
Get your hands ready to play the best hardwood video games out this year.

"NBA 09 The Inside"
Sony's NBA series always seems to be about two steps behind the competition. This year's no different with gameplay more Kwame than Kobe. Most of "The Inside's" new features have been on the other NBA games for years. It's not all bad, though. "The Inside" features The Life mode in which you take the role of a player, then follow him on a journey from the D-League to the NBA. For every game, you're given a list of goals to accomplish in order to move onto the next scene. This feature is a great way to kill a few hours. Unfortunately this mode is way too short (even if you play out each story), and the rest of the game feels outdated when compared to "Live" and "2K."