College Hoops 2K6 REVIEW

College Hoops 2K6 Review (Xbox)

The old basketball saying goes, “I don’t care how it looks, as long as we win”.
OK, so maybe it’s not an old adage, but it is the perfect phrase for College Hoops 2k6. College Hoops has borrowed the same new innovations that its pro counterpart (NBA 2K6) has and incorporated them almost flawlessly in this college version. Despite the mediocre graphics and horrible cut scene transitions, this game delivers the goods when it comes to both gameplay and replicating the college game.

The right analog stick has a new use now. Just when you thought that the right stick could only be used for "Isomotion", jukes in football, and leading off in baseball; 2K Sports decided to put the pump fake and other different shots on the right stick. Virtually any type of shot that you can think of is on the right stick. Press the right stick away from the basket, and your player fades away. Towards the basket is a leaner, and he'll try to draw contact. Dunks will also vary, depending on which direction on the right stick you're pressing. Reverse, power, and finesse dunks are all there. For those that are not vertically blessed, the right stick will control which hand your player uses for his lay-up - Now that's detail. The post game also sees a great enhancement with the new shot stick. Up-and-unders, skyhooks, and power moves are just some of the moves that can be used in the post. For those that don’t want this level of detail, you can still use the X button to shoot the rock.

So where did the "Isomotion" moves go? Not to worry; they're now on the left stick, and are used with the right and left triggers. When pressing the L or R triggers, the left stick will now perform crossovers, behind the back dribbles, and spin moves. The new free throw system is also handled very well. Gone are the lining up of arrows, the “golf meter” system, or the "squeeze the triggers and hit shoot". Now, you'll use the right stick to pull back and release when you think it’s optimal. I love this system, because each player’s style is different and thus there are various release points.

On the court, the game plays very nicely. Different teams play with different styles, and you'd better be able to either adapt or force your style of play on the opposition - or you'll get burned. The computer AI will now jump on ill-advised long passes and will double team the appropriate players. Remember, this is not the pro game - it's a team-based game; unlike the one-on-one nature of the pros. It is far easier to score by running an offensive set correctly than it is to take your defender one-on-one and hope for a score. Gamers can call four different defensive sets on the fly and eight different offensive sets. At any time, you can pause and select different plays to be mapped to the D-Pad. Full court pressing is the ultimate risk-and-reward system. If performed well, you'll create many turnovers for your team. However, if the press is broken, the computer will punish you by scoring easy buckets.

College Hoops 2K6
's presentation seemed to ignore its pro counterpart. The graphics in the game benefit from a lot of the slick animations used in NBA 2K6, but unfortunately, the other aspects of the visuals are almost primitive. The lighting is disappointing, resulting in floors that look drab and flat. The character models are noticeably blocky and lack detail, and the crowds in particular are downright ugly at times. Cut scenes are not timed well at all, either. I have gotten the ball from the official on the free throw line and then it will break to a cutscene of my player clapping and getting high fives from his teammates. Another example is actually starting the passing animation from out of bounds - and then the game cuts to players coming off into the game from the scorer's table. That is just unacceptable. The general sound effects from the court and crowd are pretty decent, but the new announcing crew of Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery is horrible and mis-timed. What might be even more disappointing is the lack of fight songs available in the game. Only a handful was included, and they don't even cover many of the traditional basketball powerhouses. However, the game does include the fight songs of some of the more obscure schools in America.

One part of the presentation that was handled very well is the college preview and "Selection Sunday" parts of the game. Before the season begins, a virtual Greg Gumbel and Clark Kellogg will have a preview show that runs down the preseason top 25, along with top freshmen and pre-season All-Americans. After the conference tournaments, the duo returns to unveil the 65 teams that will advance to the NCAA Tournament. It is almost identical to the CBS broadcast, with the duo running down those on the bubble, the top 4 seeds, the rest of the field, and then a review of the bubbles that popped and the breakdown by conference. It's a very nice touch that adds greatly to the game.

The Legacy mode is very deep, and there are two different types to chhose from. The first is an "open" Legacy, in which you can pick any team in college basketball and start with them. In "closed" Legacy mode, you can only pick from a handful of teams, and they are all in one-bid conferences. These teams are neither deep nor particularly talented, so be prepared to get beat up a good bit in the early stages.

The user will have to manage his time like a real coach. Players have to be led in practice, coddled when they are feeling down, and recruited when they are in high school. All of that is in the game, and the user must find the perfect balance in time between his current players, and those that he’s trying to get to enroll at his school. Recruiting in this game no longer involves just high school seniors. Now, the coach can start to recruit a player when he’s a freshman. However, just like in real life, a coach cannot contact the player until his junior year, but you can ask for game tapes from those not yet able to drive. Recruiting options are the same as the last year; with calls, visits, scouting, and invites to campus as your tools to get that blue-chipper on your team. If doing the daily or weekly recruiting tasks is not your thing, then you can have the computer assist you and help you along the way.

Pre-season tournies are in here, and there are a good number of them. In fact, I think the only season tourney that is missing from the game is the Maui Invitational - and that is because it's rights belong to EA. I started a Legacy with Southeast Missouri State and decided that I should enter the Pre-season NIT. Well, the committee decided that I should visit Durham for my first game - and that was not fun. Let’s just say that one Mr. J.J. Redick had some fun that night.

A negative that I encountered during my legacy revolved around how minor teams were rated. I’m sorry, but if Georgia State is 9-0 against some creampuffs, they should not be in the top 10. I’m sure I’ll get some hate mail about that, but it’s realistic that they wouldn’t even get votes. This also leads to unrealistic upsets in the NCAA tourney. A #1 seed losing to a 16 has never happened. Sure, it will happen some day, but it shouldn't happen twice in the same year! In recruiting, I feel that there are too many four-star and higher players. The overflow allows some of the minor schools to grab one and totally dominate their league, helping them to become too good. Stetson should never be a powerhouse. Never.

Even with these flaws and the cut-scene weirdness, the game is a good one. Plus, its only $30. You can’t beat that price for a game that plays this well. With the depth of the legacy mode, the replay value is huge. Who knows, maybe a patch might appear to solve some of these flaws in this game.

College Hoops 2K6 Score
out of 10