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WITS IN THE GAME

EA Sports

"NBA Live 09 is going to change the way sports video games are played." Those are some bold words. But Brian Ullrich, Live's lead producer, believes his game will back them up now that it has tapped Synergy Sports Technology, a video and scouting service used by 23 NBA teams, to provide data that drive artificial intelligence. Explains Ullrich: "Synergy not only tracks how a player scores, it also tells you whether he goes left or right and if he likes to post or spot up. Plus, it knows what plays a team will run with a particular lineup on the floor and how that group of players works together. Factoring all this into Live is what we call Dynamic DNA." Translation: Virtual players will perform more than ever like their real selves.

To keep the game to-the-minute fresh, EA Sports says the data will be updated online each day of the season. If LeBron drops 60 against the Pistons, his ratings will shortly reflect his lights-out night. "It's no longer a producer's opinion about how someone plays," says Ullrich.

Adding Synergy has excited more than gamers, though. For Rockets GM Daryl Morey, Live 09 is a scouting tool. "We already use Synergy to game-plan," he says. "Using Live may help our players visualize the data."

Players like Andre Iguodala, however, are less concerned with the scouting than with EA's promise to tweak the look of the game's players regularly." Last year they had my socks too high and the wrong shoes. I don't care about my speed rating, but I want my character to look good."

STARTING 5
Synergy is just one of the many reasons Live 09 is going to goose gamers when it hits shelves on Oct. 7. Here are some others:

YES, WE'RE TALKIN' 'BOUT PRACTICE
The practice courts of Live's NBA Academy offer a place to shoot around and run drills. See if you can hit a rainbow from out-of- bounds as you stand next to the Sprite machine.

THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH
Like big men who shoot threes? Compete in international tourneys that include 24 national teams with their authentic FIBA rosters.

ON AND ON AND ONLINE
Sick of beating up on the computer? Take on the Net's best in leagues that feature drafts, trades and playoffs.

WANNA SEE IT AGAIN?
Ready to show the world how you dunked on Yao? Live lets you create your own highlights and post them online—complete with the ability to change camera angles and playback speeds.

CALL IT AS YOU SEE IT
Live's DNA data let gamers run plays specifically designed for the crew on the court. And the data change depending on who is in the game, so you can run an iso for J.R. Smith as easily as for Carmelo Anthony. (Why you'd want to, we don't know.)

PLAY AS I PLAY
Some of the NBA's elite break down their real-life tendencies so you can use them to best advantage in the game.

ANDRE IGUODALA
"I'm good off pick-and-rolls. When Sam [Dalembert] sets a pick then dives, I can either get to the basket or throw a lob to him. And now, with Elton Brand, I've got a pick-and-pop guy I can hit for a jump shot."

BRANDON ROY
"I make a lot of shots on the left side of the court. Whenever I work on a new move and take it left, it's almost automatic."

RUDY GAY
"If I can hit a couple of shots early, the basket starts looking like an ocean to me. After that, anything I throw up is going in."