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College Hoops 2K7 (PlayStation 2) artwork

College Hoops 2K7 (PlayStation 2) review


"College Hoops 2K7 captures some of the wonderful media moments of NCAA basketball. In a dynasty, every season begins with Midnight Madness and a wild intrasquad practice. Shortly thereafter, facsimiles of talking heads Greg Gumbel and Clark Kellogg host a lengthy preview show, offering canned insight into the Top 25 poll, rundowns of preseason All-Americans, and outlines of high profile coaching changes. After conference tournaments conclude, the pair returns for the big Selection Sund..."



College Hoops 2K7 captures some of the wonderful media moments of NCAA basketball. In a dynasty, every season begins with Midnight Madness and a wild intrasquad practice. Shortly thereafter, facsimiles of talking heads Greg Gumbel and Clark Kellogg host a lengthy preview show, offering canned insight into the Top 25 poll, rundowns of preseason All-Americans, and outlines of high profile coaching changes. After conference tournaments conclude, the pair returns for the big Selection Sunday show. Nothing is more nerve-racking than sitting on the bubble while they deliberately plow through every March match-up.

Everything in-between is a little less exciting because the computer intelligence in 2K7 suffers from one glaring deficiency: it simply cannot pass. After pulling down a defensive board, itís even money whether the CPU will throw a decent outlet or toss the ball directly into an opponentís rear. Against a full-court press, it wonít dribble at all. Instead, it carelessly whips the basketball across the court with the judgement of a team that just drained a keg in the locker room. No wonder the game uses a drunk driver as its cover-boy.

The mass of turnovers dissipates on higher difficulty levels Ė you may bottom out with only a few dozen steals Ė but it never disappears. Itís the computerís D that fades away. College Hoops 2K7 gives you all kinds of nifty offensive moves. A ball-handler can pull off a deadly crossover, stutter-step, jump-stop, or ball fake to lose his man. Iíve never used any of these. You can completely customize a playbook, even in mid-game, to counter any defensive formation. I donít even bother. Sometimes the computer will get tricky. Itíll fluster an opponent with a double-team, jump into every imaginable passing lane, or fly out to block a jump shot from the wing. But usually itís just too easy to dribble a defender under the basket and dunk in his face, or at least post-up and sink a little baby-hook. Plus, it pays to keep it simple. The fancier the maneuver, the more likely your player is to end up out of control, flipping a weak teardrop right to the waiting defense.

So strategy is on hiatus, but if youíre into building dynasties through unfettered winning and stat mongering, this is great news. College Hoops 2K7 offers two separate starting points to appeal to players with varying levels of patience. In one, you can take over any Division I program you wish, working with high expectations from the very beginning. The other forces you to initially choose a position from a list of dismal schools, and provided you perform well enough, you can move up only when coaches at better programs retire or get fired.

And the men you step in for can be veritable legends. This game boasts about including hundreds of real college coaches, such as Roy Williams and Tubby Smith. Of course, it doesnít say whoís left out. Itís always exhilarating to walk into the den of your most hated rival. The roar from the capacity crowd (of flat, 2-D cutouts) rattles the arena and the confidence of your squad, so you have to bear down and work a little harder for a runaway victory. Yet, the experience loses a little luster when that reviled foe is lead into the fray by Coach DUKE instead of its ratlike pitchman.

To keep the premier players away from those competing floor generals, nameless or not, successful recruiting is the key, and College Hoops 2K7 gets hardcore. You start scouting prospects when theyíre freshman in high school and track them through graduation, all the while competing with other programs for their attention. Every week, points must be allocated to phone calls, emails, home visits, and campus invites. All in all, there are hundreds upon hundreds of names, so the process requires significant attention Ė unless you allow the computer to recruit stiffs for you. There are even summer camps during the off-season. These give you a chance to use prospects in game action, thoroughly evaluating their skill set, and expands your list of targets beyond guys with only the best stats. It also provides fun little drills covering the basics of offense and defense, and a ton of minigames like 21.

Of course, a couple of points about College Hoops go almost without saying. First, the graphics wonít impress you. Character models have defined musculature with only a bit of artificial shine. The body types are varied and plentiful; I certainly havenít had two players on my teams that look anything alike. Arenas are emblazoned with different team names and logos, but look generic beyond that. The overall level hasnít improved from last yearís release, and it gets sloppy at times; thereís noticeable slowdown when the game prepares for complicated character animations.

Second, the game features a mostly ďurbanĒ soundtrack, filled with the rap that every baller must love. Some of the best tracks focus on basketball itself, throwing out names of moves and schools, and putting you in the mood to hit the court immediately. If you donít like rhymes, though, 2K7 also includes pep bands belting out famous fight songs. Unfortunately, those are drowned out during games by the even-tempered announcing of Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery. MAN TO MAN! (Actually, it would be more exciting if Raftery screamed out a few more of his signature phrases.)

Third, you canít necessarily bank on the online experience. The modes sound great, with offerings of quick games, tournaments, or even entire leagues with up to 64 participants! However, since more impressive versions of this game have migrated to both the 360 and PS3, the prospect of filling all those slots with strangers is slim.

That leaves you to consider College Hoops 2K7 only for its single-player experience. Most every sports game has deficiencies in AI, and the measure of its worth hinges on how much fun it is even after those weaknesses have been exposed. In that regard, 2K7 earns a passing grade. On the court, itís exciting to fly around the court, running up the score by anticipating an opponentís every move. Off the court, the level of detail devoted to recruiting and career advancement make the legacy modes worthwhile. If youíre stuck with an antiquated PS2, this game will fill your college hoops fix.

Rating: 7/10

woodhouse's avatar
Featured community review by woodhouse (March 24, 2007)

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