Right along side March Madness we have a game for you today that hopes to ease your pain once the tournament comes to an end. Not sure what we are talking about? Well it’s college basketball of course, one of the most beloved sporting events in the United States where the best college basketball teams all come together to compete for the National Championship. At the same time, gamers who have been captivated by the real life March Madness has not been treated to a proper video game experience. Well 2K Sports is back on the saddle again, hoping to score a big slam dunk with their latest title College Hoops 2K7 for the Playstation 3. So does 2K Sports have enough to make it all the way? Read our full review to find out!
What is always interesting to me is how the game developers try to differentiate their college sports titles with their professional sports. One of the key differences is the atmosphere, which in the case of college sports is much more up-beat and seems to have a bigger impact on the outcome of a game rather than what you see in the professional status. You also have to take into account that college athletes are, for the most part, not as refined and not as skilled in their respected sports, which does influence the games as well. So how does 2K Sports and Visual Concepts fare in capturing the college games atmosphere?
We can start off by talking about the modes of play in College Hoops 2K7, which go all over the board from just a simple sit down and play style to the Legacy Mode, a content-rich and deep mode that takes the term franchise to a new level. The Legacy Mode is really a full featured experience that offered up one of the most feature rich college franchise modes I have really ever experienced. From micromanaging your time, to recruiting your team, the Legacy Mode requires a lot of time, patience, and an overall appreciation for the sport of college basketball. I could say that there are some areas that need a bit of improvement, like the recruiting, which I believe could have been a bit more well rounded, but still managed to give up an extremely deep experience.
Being that we are in the midst of March Madness, I spent my first few hours of College Hoops 2K7 going through a standard NCAA Tournament as UCLA. Now of course my Bruins just got knocked out of this year’s tournament, however in my College Hoops 2K7 tournament we had a huge game against Gonzaga in the Final Four that went to double overtime. The experience that College Hoops 2K7 provides is truly remarkable, and that is mainly due to the stellar AI that we will cover in just a bit. However to get back to the mode, you can just feel the intensity that the game offers up during these games, and although I would have liked to see it a bit more ramped up then what I saw in the Final Four and Championship game, College Hoops 2K7 still has some really great ideas.
There is no doubt in my mind that College Hoops 2K7 has the modes to back it up, but it all comes down to the gameplay, and that is where College Hoops 2K7 really shines through. The AI in this game is much improved over last year’s experience, and that is mainly seen on the defensive side of the ball, which seems much more in tune this year. That is not to say that constant fast breaks can’t be pulled off, but with some good defensive strategy there are more opportunities to stop a quick moving offense.
Sadly there are a few weird quirks in the gameplay that does make the game at times feel a bit uneven. For example, the amount of easy shots that my players seemed to miss was insane, and this wasn’t a constant occurrence but one I saw on a few occasions. When the other side was on a roll, I would go for some easy jumpers or even layups, and constantly miss. Understanding the basketball is a game of momentum this doesn’t seem that bad on paper, but when you start seeing easy bucket after easy bucket completely missed, it does make you scratch your head.
The problems I had with the gameplay of College Hoops 2K7 were really minuscule in the grand scheme of things. The overall product still offers up one of the slickest and most enjoyable game of College Basketball I have ever played. The online play helps out in a big way with online leagues and plenty of options to have all of your friends get together and see who reigns supreme. I should also mention that the Sixaxis support for free throws does take time to get used to, but seems much more interactive and engaging. Although the overall product is not perfect, it offers up the most complete college basketball game in a long, long time.
The problem I feel developers have with College Sports are that since they don’t use the actual names of the athletes they seem to take it easy when it comes to character models, and for whatever reason I just felt that the character models in College Hoops 2K7 were bland and often lifeless. You also get a lot of recycled models that seem to need more detail and a little cleaning around the edges. The arenas in the game thankfully go the opposite way, with blazing detail and fantastic atmospheric touches that bring the games to life. The visuals do look solid on the Playstation 3, but I have a good feeling we are going to be seeing much better from the game in the future.
There is nothing like college basketball, and there is definitely nothing like March Madness. And if you can make those things work for you, then you’re in for a quite a ride. College Hoops 2K7 is a real treat from start to finish, offering up just a multitude of modes offline and some great options online, including leagues, which is actually a great inclusion and could offer up some serious online match ups. I was immediately engaged by College Hoops 2K7 and had trouble letting it go once it was time to sit down and right the review. If you like college basketball, you’re going to have a great time with this game.
There is no doubt in my mind that College Hoops 2K7 is the best college basketball game I have seen in quite some time. The amount of depth that this game contains and the amount of great basketball that you can get out of this title is truly impressive. This is an easy recommendation to any Playstation 3 owner who is looking for a college basketball fix, even after we see March Madness come to a close.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.