Though its NBA franchise gets plenty of attention, 2K Sports' College Hoops series has flown under the radar of many sports fans, despite being quite good in its own right. Like 2K7 before it, College Hoops 2K8 isn't tremendously different from its predecessor, but it's the small changes, like new gameplay mechanics and an improved legacy mode, that make this year's installment great and one sure to please college basketball fanatics.
The sixth man will help you pull out those close victories.
There are plenty of ways to stay busy in College Hoops 2K8. You can create your own chants, players, schools, sound clips, and highlight reels, and new this year, you can create your own plays. The interface isn't particularly easy to use and requires a lot of sometimes frustrating trial and error. But you get out of it what you put in, and all the work pays off when you've created the perfect play. If you're the sharing type you can share all this content online, or you can hoard all your knowledge and use it to crush your foes.
There are more ways to play the game than ever. You can set up your own conference tournaments and even the NCAA Championship in the Pontiac Tournament mode, or take part in the College Hoops Classic. Coach mode lets you call the plays while your players execute them, and new this year are the All-American training challenge and tutorial modes. Here you'll go through a number of drills against well-known former college ballers designed to teach you the ins and outs of 2K8's somewhat convoluted control scheme. Going through this training mode still doesn't make the new passing control any less complex, since you still have to decide what type of pass you want to throw by pressing a shoulder button and then a face button. But it does a good job of introducing the controls--an area in which previous 2K Sports games have been deficient."
Online play lives up to the high standards of other 2K sports efforts. A real-time ticker shows the latest sports news, and the online front page shows college hoops news as well as upcoming games and current scores. Once online, you can take part in a quick match, custom match, or unranked play against a buddy, or join or start tournaments and even leagues. Our online games suffered from a bit of lag here and there as well as the occasional jerk that does nothing but shoot three-pointers with the same guy over and over, but for the most part the games ran fine and were enjoyable.
All of these modes are solid, but college basketball fans tend to head straight to legacy mode to lead their favorite team or alma mater to glory. Once again, you can play an open legacy, where you're able to take over the school of your choosing, or career legacy, where you start at a small school and either lead the school to prominence or do well enough to use the school as a stepping stone to a better coaching gig. The mode is quite similar to last year's, right down to the cumbersome menus. Frustrating menus aside, there's a lot to legacy mode--even more than last year. Amateur Basketball Leagues (high school teams) have been added, giving you unprecedented access to scouting high school players before the season starts--you can even play their games. The recruiting process has seen some changes, but they're mostly cosmetic and have little impact on how you actually recruit. You'll find some players that have at least a passing interest in your school and then request game tape, watch them in person, e-mail or call them, set up campus visits, go to their homes, and hopefully get them to sign a letter of intent. This process is fun for a few weeks, but it quickly gets repetitive and there's no way to automate the process. An odd glitch causes some talented junior college players to not get recruited by anyone, thereby letting them fall right into your lap. This makes it easier to get good players if you're at a lousy school, but it sort of defeats the whole purpose of such a detailed recruiting process.