Basketball, hockey games look great, play fun

There are so many new sports games, I can’t get to all of them this week. So for now, we’ll round up the basketball and hockey titles, which are quite good this season. Not a clunker in the bunch.

• “NBA 2K9” retails for $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3; $20 for PS 2 — This year’s “2K” basketball is just a tad sluggish, even if you change the settings to speed up the game. The interface is confusing and cluttered where you choose teams, seasons and replay visuals. But those are constructive criticisms for an otherwise good game offline and online, though “2K8” was closer to perfect. Plays fun. Looks great. Challenging to very challenging. Rated “E.” Three and one-half stars out of four.

• “NBA Live ’09” retails for $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3; $50 for Wii; $30 for PSP and PS 2 — This might be the basketball winner this season. “Live” offers an impeccable NBA experience, so much so that if you hook it up online, all of the game’s players will be updated based on real NBA stats. In other words, each player’s real attributes, abilities and injuries are daily incorporated into the motions of this game’s players. That’s incredible. The gaming (offline and online) is much improved over last year, though buttons are still a little slow to respond, especially when swatting defensively at a ball. It’s great, though. Plays fun. Looks excellent. Challenging to very challenging. Rated “E.” Four stars.

• “NBA ’09: The Inside” retails for $60 for PS 3; $30 for PSP and PS 2 — “The Inside’s” game play is fluid, simple, easy and uncomplicated, like basketball games were three or four years ago. In other words, this is a fine game for casual players. You also can create players from scratch, shaping foreheads and facial hair, and earning points to improve your jump shots and, uh, tattoos. You can take part in beat-the-goal subgames as well. Perfect for light-casual gamers, but not enticing for a hard-core gamer. Plays mildly fun. Looks very good. Easy to challenging, based on settings you choose. Rated “E.” Three stars.

• “NHL ’09” retails for $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3; $30 for PS 2 — This thing comes with a lot of bells and whistles, like shooting the puck with dual thumb sticks. But it’s a bit clunky. Camera angles and shot setups are a chore. Plays fun. Looks great. Challenging to very challenging. Rated “E 10+” for mild violence. Three and one-half stars.

• “NHL 2K9” retails for $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3; $50 for Wii; $20 for PS 2 — “2K9” resurrects old-time hockey: big body slams; fistfights; and a great game engine that makes winning seem nicely challenging even when you beat a team 4-1. This is the hockey victor this season. Plays fun. Looks good. Challenging to very challenging. Rated “E 10+” for lyrics, mild violence. Four stars.

Contact Doug Elfman at 702-383-0391 or e-mail him at delfman@reviewjournal. com. He also blogs at


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