This winter, gamers who enjoy college basketball once again have two choices when it comes to purchasing a game. Both 2k Sports and Electronic Arts have developed college hoops games for those with either the Xbox 360 or either Playstation 2 or 3. However, for those of us who haven’t gotten out of the original Xbox era, College Hoops 2k7 is the only option. Thankfully, the last college basketball game to be made for the Xbox is once again a solid effort from 2k Sports.
Once again, the best part of the College Hoops franchise is the career legacy mode. As in previous editions, the player starts out his career coaching at a small conference school. From there, the objective is to move up the ranks, eventually landing a job at one of the major conferences in the NCAA. There are also lesser objectives that can increase the attribute points of the coach, such as signing a five-star recruit or winning a conference championship.
Maybe my favorite part of the legacy mode is recruiting. I find it to be rather enjoyable to take a small conference school and turn them into a contender for the national championship. Here’s a helpful hint when it comes to recruiting in College Hoops 2k7. When choosing an assistant, make sure to grab one specifically for recruiting purposes. Then, when you begin your career, make sure to increase your charisma attribute points a little higher than the other points. Finally, recruit locally. These three tips will almost ensure that you will grab the better players instead of a conference foe snatching them up.
The overall game play in College Hoops 2k7 is a realistic portrayal of college basketball. For example, I started my career coaching at Stony Brook, a team that is undersized. When facing opponents who can beat me up in the paint, the CPU moves the ball inside and dominates on the boards. When I change my zone defense to guard the inside, the CPU in 2k7 dishes the ball to the perimeter for open looks. Oddly enough, it reminds me of watching Penn State basketball this season.
Game play is easy enough to get used to. As always in the 2k series, plays are called by using the directional pad. Dribble moves are executed by holding the right-trigger and using the left analog stick. The black button brings up the ability to pass the ball to any teammate on the court. If a player has an advantage over his defender, he can back him down inside for an easier shot, which is a favorite move of mine.
An improvement over previous versions is the sound quality of the game. First, College Hoops 2k7 has 200 fight songs. Both large and small schools are represented in this game. Also, the crowd continuously chants throughout the entire game. One thing I find cool is that, when playing a tournament game, both teams are cheered for almost equally. Unfortunately, the crowd still looks as lame as ever, with the same “stand, sit, and clap” motions seen in all the 2k basketball games for the original Xbox.
In fact, all of the graphics in 2k7 are almost identical to last year’s game. Remarkably, the coaches look almost exactly like the ones found in College Hoops 2k5. However, this is made up for in 2k7 by having numerous real-life coaches in the game, such as Jim Boeheim, Lute Olsen, and Roy Williams. The players also haven’t progressed in graphics since 2k6.
2k7 has some cool features outside of game play. Greg Gumbel and Clark Kellogg host both a preseason and pre-tournament show. After every game, Greg Gumbel showcases the “Pontiac Game Changing Performance.” As the season nears an end, Braketology becomes available, in which you can scout just where your team may be playing come March Madness.
There are certain flaws in both the game play and the presentation that gamers may find to be obnoxious. First, it is ridiculously easy to steal the ball in 2k7. Playing on the second hardest level, my Stony Brook defense averaged roughly 30 steals per game. Also, lay-ups are missed too often. The lay-up problem can be fixed by adjusting the game sliders before beginning play. However, even after I lowered the game slider for steals, I still found it to be way too easy to steal the ball. I have read that the Xbox 360 version of College Hoops has the same problem, so hopefully this can be fixed before next year. Finally, commentators Bill Raftery and Verne Lundquist repeat themselves too much during the game and can quickly become annoying.
However, something that I have enjoyed is the updates given during the action by Bonnie Bernstein. At the beginning of both the game and the second half, she gives a brief recap of an “interview” she did with one of the head coaches. Also, she gives updates of player injuries rather quickly. Bernstein, along Gumbel and Kellogg, are an element that I have enjoyed in 2k7.
Overall, I would call College Hoops 2k7 a solid investment for the original Xbox owner that enjoys college basketball. While the similarities to last year’s game are undeniable, 2k7 is only 20 bucks brand new. I found it used for 15, and I have gotten my money’s worth out of the game.