College Hoops 2k6 ReviewDan Nielson
When you first pop in College Hoops 2k6 and power up your Xbox, the question that will immediately come to mind is: “Didn’t I play this game last year?” The answer to that question is a resounding NO. Though there may be many similarities between the 2k5 version and this one, you will soon realize the difference once you get into the deep game modes and impressive, updated gameplay.
If there is an area of this game that leaves something to be desired, it’s the presentation: namely graphics and sound. Yes, the graphics are the same if not a step down from last year. Yes, the new announcing crew is quite drab at times and a step down from last year. And yes, the courts, crowds, and environments are less than impressive, and can actually rather ugly at times. Clearly, 2K Sports wanted to focus on other aspects of the game other than visuals and sound. The player models look a bit rough and cubed, and at times the coaches (some of which you MAY be able to recognize) look like cardboard cut-outs. Some of the player animations actually look quite good, however, with the new control scheme helping a lot (we’ll cover that a bit farther down).
The sound effects are very basic and are very passable for a basketball game, but the new commentators manage to bog down the game experience. One of my favorite parts of last year’s game was the commentating of Mike Patrick and Jay Bilas. They were sharp, witty, and kept pace with the action. This year’s duo of Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery is not even comparable to Bilas and Patrick. When you are immersed in an intense game, you want to hear commentating that is original and keeps up with the action. Unfortunately, what we get here are repetitive and odd, out of place, late remarks throughout the game. Many would say this is not a big deal, but it really can pull you out of the experience. Overall, the graphics and presentation do not improve on last year’s game, and could have been better. Don’t lose heart though! Keep reading, because luckily, the bland presentation does not even come close to ruining this game.
Luckily, the gameplay of College Hoops 2K6 is where it starts to shine— and it all starts with the controls, which have been updated substantially. Once you start up a game, the first thing you’ll do is move the right analog stick hoping for a killer crossover or spin move, but instead the player will pick the ball up and pump fake. This is all thanks to the new shot stick control system that has basically been copied over from 2K Sports’ NBA 2k6 title. That’s right— you now shoot with the right analog stick. When you are away from the basket, you pull the analog stick in any direction, and release it at the top of your jump, just as if you were using a button. However, when you are in the lane, you are able to push the stick in different directions to influence what type of layup/dunk you will perform. The system works extremely well, and you’ll probably want to use it. That said, if you are an old-school lover of the push button and release shooting mechanism, not to worry, because you can still shoot with the “X” button if you want to (wuss).
So what happens to all my right analog stick moves? Thanks to the new scheme, all the moves are now done by holding the right trigger and moving the left analog stick with the new isomotion system. Move the stick in a circle to go around the back, back and forth to crossover, and so on. It takes some getting used to, but is really quite intuitive. The new right stick also comes into play on defense. You can use the right stick to steal the ball from a player, or to intercept a pass. To reach with your left hand, push the stick left, etc. If a pass is flying over your head, you can push the stick up to reach up and grab it. Apart from the new shot stick and isomotion controls, the game plays much like its 2k5 predecessor, which is a very good thing. The controls just work, and have been done right in this case. As far as general gameplay goes, the game feels very smooth, and moves along at a very nice framerate. The movements are natural, and very easy to get used to.
If you’re a hardcore fan of the series, then you’re a fan of the deep, engaging, legacy mode. Well, you won’t be disappointed here. It’s back, and better than ever. In fact, it really makes the game. Legacy mode lets you pick a team and take them through years of college basketball. You can determine your playing style, coaching style, and even set your own schedule. The biggest part of the legacy mode is recruiting. Each season, you will have hundreds of recruits to look at, some more interested than others. It’s up to you to determine what action to perform on them (phone calls, campus visits, etc.) and what coach will do it. If you make a kid happy, he’ll become very interested and you’ll sign him. The more carefully you recruit, the better players you’ll get, and the better your team will be. The legacy mode is deep and engaging, and will keep you busy for hours.
There are other game modes too, which include a quick game, Pontiac Tournament (basically a customizable pre-season tourney), Coach Mode (lets you call the plays as the coach), Practice Mode, and the rivalry mode (pits two rival teams against each other for an exhibition game). Another nice addition is the campus store, which lets you spend points that you earn in games on gear and other unlockables.
If you’re all about deep, engaging gameplay and great, time consuming game modes, then you can’t go wrong with 2K6. But if you’re someone that absolutely needs state of the art graphics and presentation, you may need to look elsewhere. Overall, this is a very good game that thrives on gameplay, controls, and depth, but is very much lacking in visuals. That said, this is easily your best bet for a college basketball game, and the $30 retail point only makes it more inviting. I highly recommend it to any sports fan.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.