Basketball Jones

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2K Sports

The NBA 2K series has reigned ultimate over EA Sports' NBA Live series for sometime, but after years of tweaking the habitual hiccups of sports games, has NBA 2K8 advanced? Well, not really. NBA 2K6's inclusion of player sweat and moving jerseys bowled over gamers then, but NBA 2K8, um, well, looks exactly like NBA 2K6 — world-class athletes still miss layups and Shaq still looks emaciated — for Christ's sake, the man weighs 350 pounds.

However, it's not a complete visual digression; 2K Sports ditched the tawdry cardboard cutout fans for individual devotees so real you could swear brawl instigator John Green is sitting center court at the Palace.

The number of player animations has grown from the fist-pumping chestnut to multiple intricate player interactions and even some grandstanding. Visual stimulation aside, the gameplay learning curve is steep. Breaking away from a defender and hurtling toward the rim is nonexistent in NBA 2K8; the developers have made the defensive AI smarter than the gamer and the difficulty shows — getting a solid win will take some time.

The new addition of the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest is engaging, but the gamer needs the fingers of a stenographer to cram the three-step process into a fraction of a second. This is, likely, effortless for the seasoned gamer, but the casual player will be left with the grimaces of the judges and boos from the crowd. NBA 2K8 may have pushed the ball up in a few aspects, but, all-in-all, the game is nothing more than a wolf in sheep's skin.

Sexed-up handheld

Motorola Razr 2 V9m
Headphones: Motorola motorokr S9

Technology has renovated the mobile phones of the past into a Swiss Army knife of multimedia functions (and closer in size than that of a regular telephone). Motorola's sexed-up Razr 2 V9m is no different, offering tech geeks a slew of functions in a sleek, modern shell — one equally at home as a wall piece from Ikea as in the front pocket your ultra low-rise Levi's. The real update from the preceding Razr is the enlarged 2-inch front display. Users are able to access the updated music player, 2 megapixel camera (or camcorder) and Sprint TV (if the particular Razr 2 is a Sprint) from the touch-screen front display. Coupled with a built-in slot for a microSD card — full-size adapter comes with the phone — for up to 2GB of additional storage space and a well-stocked Sprint Music Store, the Razr 2 could — brace yourself — replace your already obsolete iPod you got last Christmas. Sprint's pushin' this idea hard by allowing users to access the purchased music on a PC as well as the phone. Now, add on the high-priced Motorokr S9 Bluetooth stereo headphones ($129.99) and the Razr 2 is fit for all scenarios — running, driving and generally shutting yourself out from any social interaction. The S9 headphones wirelessly connect to the phone with a touch of a button and allow users to listen to music and answer calls seamlessly. Like most earbud-based headphones, the S9 is wickedly uncomfortable — but offers adequate sound and loudness. Together, the Motorola Razr 2 and Motorokr S9 meld into a technological juggernaut, but in the ever-evolving cat-and-mouse game of technology, companies tend to run before they can walk. The programs freeze regularly and the Sprint TV function often appears scrambled. And, contrary to Motorola's claim, the headphones lose signal at much less than 30 feet. Most of these problems are fixed with a simple reboot of the phone, but are bothersome nonetheless. The modus operandi remains the same; wait a few months to buy the Razr 2, when the updated, debugged version is available.

Dustin Walsh is a freelance writer. Send comments to [email protected]
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