IGN Review of College Hoops 2K6
College Hoops 2K6 on the Xbox 360 is a title that begs to be packaged as a special "March Madness" edition, not unlike MLB 2K5 World Series Edition that was released last October. With MLB, 2K Sports got it right. The game was lowered in price since it was released in frickin' October. Plus it came packaged with a special DVD that featured some of the best moments in World Series history.
So here we have College Hoops 2K6 making its next-generation debut
in March. Is the price any lower? No. In fact, it's been placed at the standard third-party 360 price-point of $59.99. Are there any extra bells and whistles packaged with the game, like a top-10 Tournament moments DVD or a pack of Coach K scratch-and-sniff stickers or even a Larry Eustacy autographed can of Keystone Light? No, College Hoops 2K6 is the same well-rounded basketball title that you are currently enjoying on current-generation consoles, with some decent visual upgrades and a few default gameplay slider adjustments.
Let's talk about what's new for the 360. Off the court, you'll notice that player ratings have been adjusted so that player-of-the-year candidates JJ Redick and Adam Morrison are bona fide race horses. 2K could have easily left the current rosters as they stood, but given the March release, it did an admirable job of going back and giving studs their proper due.
Visually, Hoops got the NBA 2K6 next-gen treatment with some slick new player skins. In replays, with the depth-of-field and the updated visuals, Hoops looks really nice. During normal gameplay, however, from the default camera angle, the game is not much of an upgrade over the current-gen counterparts. 2K did add a number of new camera angles but you'll need to get in close to really appreciate the cloth physics and sweat on the player models.
That said, the unlicensed player models have some pretty strange looking faces. Maybe it's because their bodies look so good, but the faces have more than that generic look we've come to expect from NCAA games; some models look goofy and strange, but hey, so does Adam Morrison.
In the stands, the crowd looks better but the raucous fans would be difficult to classify as "next generation." Bands and student sections have been added, as well as male cheerleaders and everyone seems a bit more rowdy this time around.
2K also listened to feedback on the current-gen titles and tweaked a few gameplay sliders. The game has been slowed down a bit to more closely resemble the college style of play and shot percentages have been tweaked. Still, there are way too many steals in the game and your point guard can easily rack up double-digits steals using the "Strip N Rip" system with the right-analog stick. Also, players miss way too many close shots, especially under pressure. Even if you're directly under the hoop, it is rare that someone other than your star player can make a contested basket. Hopefully this is toned down in future titles because this remains the most frustrating aspect of gameplay.
Other than that, not much has changed and College Hoops 2K6 remains a solid, well-rounded college basketball experience. The same commentary team of Bill Raftery and Vern Lundquist return, and they do an admirable job, for the most part. Bonnie Bernstein provides some vague sideline reporting and a virtual Greg Gumbel and Clark Kellogg handle the action back in the studio. The addition of Gumbel and Kellogg was a nice touch last year as the duo broke down Selection Sunday, preseason predictions and postseason awards. On the 360, however, the pair looks laughable. The lip synching is worse than an Ashlee Simpson/Milli Vanilli joint and harks back to the old Resident Evil days. They still have good stuff to say; they just look terrible saying it.
The same nice control features return, such as the aforementioned Strip N Rip, the Shot Stick and Dual Player control. The Shot Stick is a nice feature, especially when driving to the basket. If you press it in a direction away from a defender, you'll use your body as a shield as you go up. Hopefully you draw a foul because you're probably going to miss the contested shot anyway.
The guts of 2K6 are in the immersive Legacy mode in which you guide your team to net-cutting ceremonies at the end of the season. There's a lot to do between recruiting, keeping your players happy with playtime, shifting your coaching priorities and updating playbooks, scouting opponents in coaches meetings, and then winning ballgames. The Legacy mode is one of the deepest around and a treat, especially if you haven't already won the national championship four times on the current-gen game.
The most impressive part of this game is the online mode, which is typical 2K goodness. With online leagues and tournaments, 2K Sports continues to be the leader in online options and all the games we played performed very well.
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