Who says you have to grow up? Here at SI.com's Game Room, our staffers review the latest sports video game titles to hit the market and welcome your feedback.
12/04/2007 03:28:00 PM
Review: College Hoops 2K8 (All systems)
College Hoops 2K8
Reviewed By Paul Ulane
Image Credit: 2K Sports
Things We Like
Going Deep: An improved Legacy Mode helps hammer home 2K8's best quality: depth. You could probably keep finding new ways to go through the game until next year's version hits shelves. Create your own recruit and build up his skills through training drills, build your own team by scouring the Amateur Basketball Leagues, coach a team without controlling any of the players, dive into tournament modes that let you play every match-up in the bracket... every month is as mad as March in 2K8.
You Da (6th) Man: One of the best new features of this year's build is the 6th Man Advantage, in which 2K absolutely nailed the intense momentum swings in college hoops. Start making plays and your "6th Man Meter" will fill up. Once the meter reaches the top, your team will play with a renewed confidence and buckets will start to fall from all over the court. Not only is this the best video game representation we've seen of a hot streak, it's also accurate in rewarding hustle plays like big defensive rebounds and full court pressure. To add to the madness, your opponent will get flustered, leading to cross court passes sailing out of bounds and more scoring chances for your squad.
Aural Fixation: Don't tell the good folks at EA marketing, but between the insanely raucous crowds and the reverberating mic'd up rims, you'll feel like you're "in the game." Close your eyes and listen and you'll instantly be transplanted smack in the middle of a heated Duke-Maryland clash at the Comcast Center.
Back to the Chalkboard: You're never out of a game with two different adjustment options that allow you to adapt your game plan according to what's happening out on the court. For starters, you get two "points of emphasis" per half: ball control, rebounding, defense, shot selection. If you're getting beat up in any one of those areas, simply call a TO and shore up a point of emphasis. This isn't just some gimmick, you will actually see a difference in your team's performance in these areas. You can also make halftime adjustments, ramping up the intensity on everything from offensive tempo to full-court press sets.
Passing Fancy: Instead of going overboard with trick ball-handling options, this year 2K decided to bulk up the passing repertoire. Hold down the left button, then work in a number of different button and trigger combos to throw lobs, lead passes, or bounce passes, depending on the situation.
Practice Made Perfect: The All-American Training Challenge takes what amounts to a basic tutorial on the game's coolest control features and turns it into a entertaining mini-game. Not only are there different levels of success, you will go up against last year's big men on campus like cover boy Greg Oden, Big Baby Davis, and Alando Tucker. These mini-games are good for both practice and building up your recruit's value when you're playing in Create-a-Recruit mode.
Web Mastered: In addition to testing your skills against other hoop addicts online, the new 2K Share feature lets you save and swap customized settings like rosters, chants, playbooks. Now everyone can know just how much time you spend playing video games! On second thought, maybe that's something you should keep to yourself.
Check out 2K8's gameplay and new features in action:
Things We'd Change
Control Freak: Basketball is clearly the hardest sport to simulate in video games, and College Hoops struggles again. The natural, fluid moment of a normal basketball game never develops. Point-blank misses and awkward movements in the paint (who shoots set lay-ups off of an offensive rebound?) continue to be a problem.
Ready... Aim... Misfire: While we commend the new options in the passing game, aiming basic passes during gameplay suffers considerably. Too often, trying to feed the post from one sideline results in skipping it over the center and passing it to a jump shooter on the opposite sideline. Not only will you miss the opportunity for a low post scoring opportunity, the pass is usually picked off by the other team.
In-DEE-FENSE-ible:NBA 2K8's most questionable feature was it's Lock-On D, which essentially took the controller out of your hands by automatically guarding your opponent for you. Now the Lock-On D function hits the college ranks, and it seems to have been scaled too far back. There's hardly any difference when you hold down the trigger button to apply extra pressure in crunch time and some of your defenders even get beat by simple back cuts. A happy medium between these two extremes would be appreciated for those of us looking to get the big stop when we need it.
Speech Impediment: As if we're not subjected to enough terrible commentary in today's sports world, now we have to endure regurgitated clichés and ill-timed catchphrases in our video games, too. Vern Lundquist and Bill Rafferty seem to be on a rather short loop, as you'll start hearing repeat comments by the second half. The game also features comedically overdubbed pieces of dialogue in each game's introduction, where the pitch of each voice actually shifts to name individual players.
Ready for your Close-up? The graphics during regular gameplay look decent, though not up to today's high definition high standards. It only gets worse in the details. At the free-throw line and in player profile close-ups, you can't make out any facial features. Not to mention, Greg Gumbel isn't nearly as doughy as he is on CBS broadcasts. HD graphics is one area where next-gen games should continue to improve, not take a step back.
Talk Dirty To Me: This is a petty complaint, but a complaint nonetheless. The chant creator is back, but so is it's accompanying filter, leaving out a substantial portion of what most fired up fans would want to chant at their most hated rival. That's not to say you can't get creative, but somehow hearing our fans chant "Gimme an 'F,' gimme a 'U'" doesn't completely do it for us.
The game's new passing options, post-play functionality, and coaching adjustments help mask some of the disjointed gameplay concerns. The content is also deeper than ever, which means you can approach a new season from just about every angle short of crooked booster. Toss in the crowd's realistic impact on the outcome of each match-up and you'll feel like you're back on campus.