The newest addition to 2K Sports college basketball series, NCAA College Hoops 2K8, is ready for game day. Last year’s installment was a little lackluster – 2K8 was looking to change that, and it has achieved partial success. College Hoops 2K8 contains several brilliant new adjustments, but also has a few recurring issues from past College Hoops titles that haven’t yet been fixed.
Everyone knows that the crowd can be a sixth man for the home team in a game of basketball. In College Hoops 2K8, that isn’t an exception. During play, there is literally a “6th man” bar on the bottom of your screen. As the crowd gets into the game, the bar fills up and adds a momentum boost to the home team. The players on the court use the energy from the crowd and channel it to jump that extra inch for a rebound, or put just the right touch on a shot.
However, this feature has a downside as well. During the home team’s momentum boost, the crowd can often be found going wild at completely inappropriate times. When a player on the home team is at the free-throw line, one might expect the crowd to be quiet so that the player can focus on his shot. Instead, the fans are going mad, screaming at the top of their lungs. Also, using this sixth man advantage whilst playing against the computer can sometimes end up in the complete domination of the opposing team. At least in multiplayer or online play, this qualm is not an issue because achieving the sixth man momentum boost is more difficult and usually doesn’t last as long.
Everyone knows that the most exciting part of college basketball is the NCAA tournament. Once you’ve become national champion offline, you can try to reach the top online. In College Hoops you can have an online bracket style tournament against your friends or any online player. This is exhilarating because you can essentially simulate the NCAA tournament and have the whole of March Madness at your fingertips.
Dynasty mode introduces drills that you can play through to focus on developing a certain skill of a player’s game. Through this mode, you can see your players develop as you make your way towards a winning and everlasting dynasty. Dynasty mode also introduces a new recruiting program called the ABL (amateur basketball leagues). Although the program seems a little unorganized, it’s an appreciated addition in which you can evaluate high school players and decide which ones to recruit, and which ones to let go.
An enjoyable feature in this version of College Hoops is the Maximum Passing feature. This feature allows you to select the type of pass that the ball handler will deliver. Hold L2 and you can choose between 3 types of passes. This feature enhances the game because it allows you to control the tempo of the game whether you want a slow half court game with lob passes, or you want a swift fast break game full of quick accurate bounce passes. Playing either one of these types of games depends mostly on the team you have selected and your own personal style.
Most college offenses are set up mainly in a half court style based on passing around the perimeter and find a man coming off of a pick and cutting to the basket. This part of a college basketball offense is not transferred too well in this version of College Hoops. The players with a certain icon on the roster list can pretty much blow by any defender that is guarding him. This aspect can lead to a high scoring game on both sides, which isn’t all that likely in a college game.
Free throw shooting is as important to a game of basketball as anything else, especially at the end of a close game. In College Hoops, taking your chances at the free throw line depends on both timing and accuracy. To take your shot, you pull down the right analog stick and release it at the correct time. The other portion of taking a shot lies in accuracy. Accuracy in your shot is easier to achieve because you just have to make sure you pull down and release the stick in a straight down and up fashion. If you’re a more hands on person, another option lies in the SIXAXIS motion control by simply tilting the controller back to begin the motion and then flick it forward to release the ball. Free throw shooting may take a while to figure out, but once you get the hang of it, it is pretty practical and enjoyable.
Several AI issues from past titles haven’t been addressed in this installment of College Hoops. The computer seems to always go for the fancy complex maneuvers, whereas a simple shot would be much more practical. In addition, a fast-break lay-up should prove a piece of cake for even the worst players on any team. Instead, even All-American players will get hung up on the simplest of lay-ups for no apparent reason. Looks like once again we’ll have to wait until next year for 2K Sports to iron out these issues.
As far as presentation goes, College Hoops 2K8 doesn’t bring anything new to the table. The graphics are similar to last year’s outing, and the commentary still gets somewhat repetitive. At least the atmosphere is fantastic, with both an excellent looking and sounding crowd. They cheer this title right to an acceptable category regarding audio.
Overall, NCAA College Hoops 2K8 is a solid game that will definitely satisfy that special college basketball nut. 2K Sports didn’t just put all of the features of their NBA basketball game and just apply it to college basketball, but they really went out of their way to make it a college atmosphere and attitude.