It’s almost easier to describe what College Hoops 2K7 isn’t, than to describe what it’s got.
Please note: This review is based on the PS2 & Xbox versions of the game, not the X360.
College Hoops 2K7, as far as basketball games go, is pretty good. But it has limited features that make it little more than a upgrade of last year’s game. It certainly doesn’t contain the new features that the Xbox 360 does. It’s as though we’re being punished for still hanging on to our old, next-gen console system. We won’t get the weekly sports show, College Hoops Tonight that provides us with information on the top players of the week and upcoming events. We also won’t be getting features such as the confidence meter, team unity and a new addition called the hoopcast which lets you simulate games that you don’t want to sit through in real time but with more control. In hoopcast, an interface shows you how the game is progressing and lets you change players and plays to get the best performance from your team. While none of these missing features makes or breaks the game, keep in mind that the graphics are running on the same old NBA 2K engine. We’re just getting a hand-me-down version.
If you’re a huge hoops fan you are going to notice huge similarities between the college and the NBA engine. Some tweaking has been done to make some of the players less consistent and therefore more realistic, but basically College Hoops is just the NBA with a different skin. This “skin” actually does a good job of replicating the college experience. There are hundreds of college songs and teams, in addition to a good selection of modes that include both single and multi-player components. There’s a lot to keep you busy in this game but if you’ve already played the 2K6 version to death, you’re not going to find much new ground to cover in this title. Skip it and wait to see what 08 brings.
You can play a single game, a quick game or get involved in a tournament. All of these can be played against the AI or with another human opponent both off or online. There’s a great practice mode that lets you work on your weaknesses in a freestyle format but you can also take part in training exercises and games such as monkey-in-the-middle and knockout which makes it fun to acquire new skills. The single-player mode that you really want to get in shape for is the Legacy mode. It’s divided into two sections. One is the Career mode in which you start out at the bottom and work your way up through a series of successful programs. Eventually you’ll start getting offers from bigger and better schools. This mode may be extra work but it has the most satisfying payback when you finally climb up in the ranks. The open version lets you select from any team right at the get go. This may be better for beginners since a lot of the programs are already established and you have a better chance of winning games. However, you have to sustain and eventually increase that level of success since expectations are higher. You’ll manage the day-to-day operations such as recruiting players and hiring coaches. You’ll start off with results but the pressure to perform may actually overshadow your enjoyment of the instant successes at the outset.
The isomotion controls are an improvement to the gameplay if you really like the feel they impart. While some gamers find these controls less precise, I say it’s just a matter of getting familiar with them. I find that using the analog sticks make the game feel better and helps to smooth it out. The right stick can be used for shooting and the left stick, with the aid of the R1 button, can access the various dribbles. If you’re not a fan of this system you can still use the square button to shoot.
The game is fast-paced and may be a little too quick for beginners. There are a variety of slider options that can be adjusted to suit virtually any players’ style. The only real problem that I have with the game is the passing which leads to too many interceptions. This was a problem in the last version and it’s still a problem now. Of course this is only in the single-player mode where the opposition always appears to have the upper hand when it comes to stealing the ball.
If you’re interested in getting this game for the PS2 or Xbox you had better hope that a lot of other old-gen owners (sorry to break it you, but PS2 and Xbox are now old-gen) will be getting this for Christmas since the online lounges are rather empty. True, as of this writing the game has only been out for a week and yet I haven’t even posted this review that warns you not to purchase this if you already own last year’s game. Looks as though people are taking my advice before I even give it.
Players look good and there is a fair amount of detail in the arenas that capture the look of college basketball from the pennants to the cheerleaders and the mascots. Virtually all of the school songs are featured here. There are some 200 songs in all. The audience is enthusiastic at the right times and the commentary is decent but it does repeat and some sections seem to skip. Mostly the animation is smooth but there are some framerate issues as well as players’ arms clipping through other players as well as the backboard. The ball isn’t always easy to see and occasionally it will disappear from sight entirely only to reappear at a different section of the court. The engine is staring to show signs of degradation, and how likely is it that the developers will create a new engine for an apparently outdated system such as the PS2? This makes me doubt that the 08 version will be drastically improved on the old gen consoles – if there is one.
Here’s my guarantee to you. Rent this game first and play the hell out of it over the weekend. If you don’t find that it’s totally derivative of Hoops 2K6, then go back to the store and buy it. That way nobody gets hurt.