|System: X360, PS3, PS2||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Visual Concepts||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: 2K Sports||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 19, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by D'Marcus Beatty
College basketball is quite a different animal than its older, more dynamic NBA sibling. There are a lot of subtle differences in the rules and the setup, but the atmosphere is completely different. A lot of sports developers are inclined to simply take their NBA engine and slap a coat of NCAA paint over it and call it college basketball, but fans of the sport can instantly sense the difference. Fortunately, 2K Sports has put together an impressive package with College Hoops 2K8, a game which captures the feel of college basketball, making it one of the best bets for college hoops aficionados.
There are a number of new features to this year's iteration of College Hoops. The first and most celebrated addition is the inclusion of a sixth man meter, which measures the crowd's enthusiasm. By performing well in the game, you can boost the meter, causing the fans in the stands to go wild. This has an effect on your team, boosting their confidence and allowing them to play better than their norm, and it also adversely affects the opponent, distracting them and causing them to play less effectively. However, if the opposing team forces turnovers or scores consistently, they can negate the effects of your boost. While this inclusion does help you get excited with the crowd, as it is a morale booster to see the crowd hyped up after an explosive dunk, it is a little limited in that the crowd never seems negative at all towards the home team. While most crowds are biased for their team, it would have been more realistic for them to occasionally boo a bad play, since the focus is now on the crowd reaction. Also, some of the things that boost or deplete the meter seem a little arbitrary, while they sometimes scream during free throws and calm down during some made shots.
Another addition is the inclusion of the Lock-On Defense, which debuted in the NBA 2K8 games earlier this year. This feature takes into account the advantage that offensive players have in video games and attempts to compensate by giving the defensive player the chance to lock onto the ballhandler. Instead of trying to match the footwork of an offensive player, you can lock onto the player with the ball, allowing your defender to keep pace with him momentarily. While locked on, you can attempt to steak, block shots, or simply hold the defender. This addition is a smart inclusion, making defense a little more enjoyable and palatable.
The Range Meter is another feature from 2K8 that made its way into College Hoops. It is a meter by the player's name (or number, depending on your settings) that looks like a cell phone signal bar. It fills and depletes depending on the player's location, indicating how well that player shoots from that spot. It is a decent addition, but it can be misleading. Some gamers may be encouraged to shoot when they see a full bar, but the meter never guarantees a bucket. It should instead be used as a guide or a suggestion, although I have found that I generally tend to ignore it altogether, as I'm sure most other b-ball veterans will probably do.
Maximum Passing is another new feature that gives the player better control of ball rotation. This feature allows you to choose a specific type of pass to perform, including bounce, lead, lobs, and chest passes. Performing the pass is as simple as pressing a shoulder button and a face button. This inclusion works well too, giving the player more control over the flow of the game. While most basketball games choose the pass for you, Maximum Passing takes a step to immerse the player in the basketball experience further, since the type of pass used is more important than most games let on.
There are some issues with things like an obscene amount of missed lay-ups, rare dunks, and an inordinate number of steals, but the 2K games always come with game sliders that allow you to adjust the frequency (or infrequency) of said occurrences. On the default settings, I found that my center, no matter what team, could and regularly would miss wide open lay-ups, sometimes shattering my fast break intentions. However, a quick trip to the game sliders menu did rectify this, so it isn't a major complaint.