October 17, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

(All Systems; EA; Everyone)

Allen Iverson’s tattoos notwithstanding, when is less not more in the NBA? Exhibit A: the latest version of EA’s flagship hoops game, whose bells and whistles are many — and surprisingly useful. ”Live”’s ”Freestyle Control,” introduced last year but far more polished today, lets players intuitively perform crossover dribbles and other flashy moves on the court. You can also import collegiate players from EA’s NCAA basketball game, and PS2 players can fully participate online. Best of all, commentator extraordinaire Marv Albert lends his signature, emphatic ”Yesssss!” and other b-ball bon mots to the experience. Marv’s vocal performance is so terrific that EA should strongly consider rebranding the series ”Albert 2004.” Hey, it worked with John Madden.

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