So how's this year's version of 2K Sports's College Hoops? Pretty damn impressive, to say the least. Having played far too excessive amounts of NBA 2K6 for the Xbox 360 prior to the Xbox version of College Hoops, I was half expecting a dumbed down version of NBA 2K6 in college form. That, however, was not the case. College Hoops 2K6 has an incredible amount of features that will have the NCAA fan caught up in March Madness from the beginning of Fall semester or even earlier, with recruiting, until the championship game.
It's sad that the 2K games no longer present themselves with the sexy ESPN overlay, but College Hoops adds Greg Gumble and Clark Kellogg this year to cover everything from preseason, to Selection Sunday commentary, and finally to the championship. Sure, I'd prefer Dick Vitale and/or an ESPN presentation, but to say that the current setup is insufficient would be a complete lie. I just lament the fact that my school's coach, Gary Williams, is absent from the game along with some 10-15% of the NCAA coaches for what seems to be "monetary" reasons.
It's no secret that I'm not much of a fan of the extraneous features in sports games, but College Hoops 2K6 has many of them, including the nearly worthless Coaching mode in which you take control of the coach on the sidelines and perform the play calling. When you decide to play the Franchise mode, however, you're treated to various nice little quirks, such as the aforementioned Season Preview Show, the massive Selection Sunday show (which unfortunately lacks substantial video of real fans going crazy when their team makes it on the bubble) and just an overall great presentation. With that said, let me add that online play in any NCAA basketball game is generally the best thing ever. Being an avid U of Maryland fan and student, it's so much fun to hit up the Live account and play with students from schools around the country who love their respective teams as much as I do mine. Every once in a while when I find that ACC opponent, especially them damn Blue Devils, the rivalries come out to play and words are exchanged, though not so much in good fun when I find a Dukie.College Hoops 2K6 online is easily its best feature.
, this year's 2K basketball games' biggest improvement lies in its new control scheme. Gone are the days of using the joysticks for ridiculous moves that would open up lanes that would never otherwise be available and present are the days in which the joystick is now used to time shots and choose shot types. The player can choose between jump shots, types of layups and dunks, and various other movements, all with the joystick. Without saying, foul shots are performed in the same way. I still sometimes stare in amazement at friends as they still use the "x" button to shoot. Every once in a while I'll try and use it and just wonder how I ever used buttons for my shots as opposed to a joystick that is based on timing accuracy. It makes life easy (or difficult if you're not very good at timing) let alone adds such a sense of reality. Even more interesting, on defense, the same stick that allows you to choose so many various shot types can then be used to control the hands of the selected player as he attempts to steal, which is a massive and important aspect of College Hoops 2K6. Learn it early and learn it well, because stealing is essential.
I can't comment on College Hoops 2K6 graphically in comparison to NBA 2K6 since it would an unfair comparison considering one is on 360 and the other not, but College Hoops looks pretty indeed despite its aging hardware. (yes, there's a 360 version which I'm sure looks amazing) It's a little sad that NCAA licensing disallows the use of its players, and many of the arenas aren't very detailed, though understandable considering the massive amount of teams playing division 1A ball, but if you can get past this, there's really a lot of fun to be had.
While College Hoops 2K6 is a great game, I find difficulty in recommending it over NBA 2K6. As a college student of a school that has won an NCAA Basketball championship as recently as 2002, perhaps I enjoy the NCAA counterpart more than your average gamer, and the reader should take this into consideration when reading this review. If you're an NCAA fan with Xbox Live, though, this game is a must if just to play your rival school and fans online. With all of that said, College Hoops 2K6 is a game that should probably be picked up at its $29.99 price point, but a game that should not be played over NBA 2K6 unless, like me, you hate the NBA in general or love the NCAA.