Game Zone: NBA Ballers, Samurai Warriors, Shrek 2

By Jae-Ha Kim and Misha Davenport
Chicago Sun-Times
May 7, 2004

NBA BALLERS (Midway; Rated E for everyone; PlayStation 2)

It’s all about the benjamins, here baby. If you don’t have a phat wallet stuffed with a wad of cash, it doesn’t matter how much game you got. Combining America’s love of basketball with its seemingly endless need to see how the rich and famous live, NBA Ballers gives you the ball with plenty of doses of bling bling. First, let me say that the players’ likenesses are freakishly lifelike. This makes the game a load of fun to play, but it also makes you feel a tiny bit guilty taking over their lives by just showing up at their decked out homes. Does Jason Kidd really want us checking out his crib in between matches? The games here are one-on-one street style, with plenty of room to run, dribble, shoot and score. You can play by the rules or you can play dirty. And as we all know, dirty is so wrong but so much more fun. I enjoyed performing a few “Matrix” like slo-mo aerial moves, but I had particularly good luck using my opponent’s face as the backboard. And I more than held my own when he gave as good as he got. The beauty of NBA Ballers is it’s a basketball game that’ll hold the interest of people who don’t even like basketball. And if you like your basketball with a little Harlem Globetrotters thrown in, you’ll love the showy moves (throwing the ball behind your back to score etc.) you can master fairly quickly.  Note: If your opponent is worthy, he or she will most likely figure out fairly quickly that it just takes the push of one button to stop the action. –Jae-Ha Kim

SAMURAI WARRIORS (Electronic Arts; Rated T for suggested themes and violence; PlayStation 2)

After selling more than a million copies in Japan, “Samurai Warriors” makes its way over to the United States this week. Set in 16th-century Japan, this game is a must-have for fans of the warrior mode who enjoy a good, fierce battle that isn’t always fair. Your choice of weapons will depend on how well you do. The blades are impressive, but the guns are way more efficient. There’s no real art to this game, which is a shame because the gorgeous graphics make you long for more. But it does take some skill to navigate your way around feudal Japan. Riding horseback will save you some time, but take care with your steed. Ride him too hard and he can die on you, leaving you pretty much in the middle of nowhere just waiting to be attacked in a way that’s unseemly for any warrior, much less of the samurai kind. –Jae-Ha Kim 

SHREK 2 (Activision; Xbox; $49.99)

Perhaps I’m being too kind to “Shrek 2,” but compared to the mess that was TDK’s game based on the first movie, Activision appears to have scored a major hit. Gone are the farts and burps that made up the core of TDK’s gameplay. They have thankfully been replaced by a solid action/adventure platform where you control four characters with different talents and abilities. Best of all, the game preserves the humor of the films. Multiplay spreads the humor to you and up to three friends. Sound-alike voice actors fill in for the likes of Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy. Some levels are a bit repetitive, but overall the game is a joy. (Rated E for comic mischief and cartoon violence) –Misha Davenport 

What’s your game…Sharon Foo?

“We got out of control playing [PlayStation 2] games on our last tour. We haven’t played that many on this tour, but ‘Grand Theft Auto: Vice City’ is sooooo much fun. But we can’t play it anymore because we lost it somewhere.” –Sharin Foo, lead singer of the Raveonettes

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