ESPN College Hoops 2K5 (PlayStation 2) review
"A Game John Wooden Can Appreciate "
A Game John Wooden Can Appreciate
ESPN College Hoops 2K5 packages a tight mixture of gameplay, realism and presentation values to create one of the finest basketball games ever. With the depth of its legacy mode and a competitive A.I., ESPN College Hoops 2K5 provides an enormous volume of possibilities to exhaust.
The key to ESPN College Hoops 2K5 is the ultra smooth gameplay. The feel of college basketball is captured perfectly with the fluid motion of players. Gone are the days of video game basketball characters stopping on a dime and cutting at 45 degree angles for easy dunks. In their steed is a shooting and passing method relying upon realistic player movement. Players must gradually speed up and slow down regardless of whether they’re driving to the hoop or launching a fadeaway jumper. This movement only feels unnatural because the former unrealistic standard has stood for so long; after a short adjustment period, you really feel like you’re controlling a player and not a video game sprite.
The fluid movement allows the game to adapt to your style, much like a real basketball game would. Do you like to play an up-tempo pace? The lead pass button will become your best friend, allowing you to effortlessly lead your passes for players cutting on the fast break. Prefer to pound the ball into the post? Controls specifically let post players back down, spin and drop step their way to easy baskets.
Of course, your 150-pound freshman point guard won’t have as much success in the post as your bruising 6’11” center. ESPN College Hoops 2K5 accurately reflects differences amongst players with comprehensive ratings in about 20 categories. Each player is given a 0 to 100 rating in abilities which include dunking, steals, three-point shooting and interior defense. A power school like North Carolina might have a roster full of players with ratings in the 90s, but lowly Ivy League schools will be lucky to have one player crack an 85 rating.
This disparity in ratings helps balance lopsided results seen in past college basketball games. Unless you are personally controlling them on the easy difficulty setting, Murray State will not be winning the NCAA Tournament. On normal difficulty even a good player will have problems beating a team five points or higher in overall rating. This eliminates final scores of “Brown 78, Duke 26,” although some ego must be surrendered the first time a Top 25 team brutalizes your Chattanooga State team.
There are a few minor kinks though. The refs in ESPN College Hoops 2K5, while calling enough fouls, clearly miss other calls. Most notably, players clearly slapped while going up for a lay-up sometimes won’t get the call, a situation which rarely happens in real life. The game doesn’t recognize this at times, and actually gives possession to the other team when the ball goes hurtling out-of-bounds.
Likewise, substitutions can be bizarre when left in the hands of the computer. The other staples of coaching in basketball games, a deep playbook and automatic fouling, are done well, but lineup setting is lacking. Regardless of how you organize your roster, the computer will sometimes try to sub in a slow power forward as a backup shooting guard because he has a higher overall rating. You also can not set specialty lineups, such as a fast break or three-point squad.
The stellar gameplay of ESPN College Hoops 2K5 is backed by the appropriate college basketball pedigree. Every NCAA division 1 men’s team is present, along with their appropriate conferences. Unfortunately, real player names can’t be used because of scholar-athlete licensing conflicts, but all names can be edited and Sharkport saves are readily available on the Internet. The default rosters are clearly modeled after current players, right down to what color headband they wear. If you manage to find a team or player that isn’t represented, then you can use the game’s create options to insert them.
The replay value of ESPN College Hoops 2K5 is exponentially increased by the legacy mode in which you take control of a bad basketball team in a crappy conference. By winning games and signing hot new recruits, you can turn Dartmouth into a powerhouse, or use the job as a catapult to a power conference position.
Via easily navigable menus, you schedule visits with recruits, train your current players and comb through scouting e-mails. Elevate your program and Duke might come calling. Continue to finish in the cellar, and you’ll have competitors for your job instead. Depending on your performance, you receive points to improve your own abilities as a coach, helping you to succeed at your next stop.
ESPN College Hoops 2K5 wouldn’t be a sports game without extras, and it does not disappoint in this regard. Points for unlockable teams in the campus store are given for achieving certain milestones in games. For example, dishing out 15 assists and scoring 30 points might get you 100 points to spend in the campus store. If you ever wanted to reenact the 1979 Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird showdown, this is the game to play.
The presentation values of ESPN College Hoops 2K5 are perfectly implemented. The stadium erupts after every basket by the home team and dies after each counter from the away team. The only slowdown occurs when cycling through replays and stat overlays after made baskets.
Audio commentary is provided by ESPN vets Jay Bilas and Mike Patrick, and ranges from average to excellent dependent on the game situation; you’ll still hear some inappropriate, “They need to get back into this game!” comments when leading by 40. However, as far as commentary in sports games go, ESPN College Hoops 2K5 is miles ahead of the competition.
Except for a few minor flaws, ESPN College Hoops 2K5 is as close as you can get to real basketball without stepping on the court. Even if you only have a passing interest in college basketball or sports, you simply will not find a better bargain for its current price of $20.
Community review by sgreenwell (December 31, 2004)
A bio for this contributor is currently unavailable, but check back soon to see if that changes. If you are the author of this review, you can update your bio from the Settings page.
More Reviews by sgreenwell [+]
If you enjoyed this ESPN College Hoops 2K5 review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!
User Help | Contact | Ethics | Sponsor Guide | Links