Annual EA, 2K Sports b-ball rivalry tips off again

Basketball sims hitting stores around the country with new features, higher price tags than last year.

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Game-hungry hoopsters have some options when it comes to hitting the hardwood this week, as Electronic Arts' NBA Live 06 and 2K Sports' NBA 2K6 are arriving in stores across the country.

NBA Live 06 from EA arrives with a focus on the transition game, highlight-reel-worthy fast-break scenarios, and new freestyle superstar abilities. NBA 2K6 counters with a shooting system that uses the right analog stick and scraps the standard turbo button in favor of an aggression button, which is used to turn lay-ups into dunks, simple shot blocks into humiliating swats, and so forth.

It's no coincidence that 2K Games and EA are shipping their competing sports products directly against one another. The competition between the two biggest players in the sports-game market has been getting fiercer each year. Last year, 2K Games announced that NBA 2K5 would hit stores for $19.99, which prompted EA to drop the price of NBA Live to $39.99 and move up the release. 2K Games then turned around and moved its release date up to match EA's. This year's campaign played out a little differently, with 2K Games choosing a $39.99 price point for its offerings, while EA moved the price of its PlayStation 2 and Xbox editions of Live back up to $49.99.

Pricing aside, the off-season has seen the competition fueled even further by exclusivity deals for the NFL and MLB. While several publishers courted the NBA (pun regrettably intended) for exclusivity, the league side-stepped such offers and signed a starting five of publishers to long-term deals.

NBA Live 06 is $49.99 on the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and PSP and $39.99 on the GameCube and PC. NBA 2K6 is $39.99 on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Both games are rated E for Everyone. As for which baller reigns supreme, read GameSpot's full review of NBA Live 06, and check back later for the final word on NBA 2K6.

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