College Hoops – I’m Just Not Feeling It

Wish I could echo Bill’s thoughts about College Hoops, but fact is I’ve played five games and I’m ready to toss the controller at the cats. I’ll emphasize one point again. I’ve played five games. So take this for what it’s worth.

It’s not that College Hoops is a bad game, it’s not. But the degree of control campared to NBA 2k6 is just not there and after playing NBA for the past few weeks it’s just a pretty stark contrast. If it weren’t for the defensive assignments bug in NBA I’m not sure there would be any reason for me to pick up College Hoops again, which is a shame. From a gaming standpoint, I like college so much more than the pros. After just three games the list of things I’m already tired of is growing far too quickly and most of it has to do with control. I want to feel like I’m in control of my player. In this game…

– I don’t want to constantly get stuck in pre-rendered animations. The number of times I lost a defensive assignment in transition resulting in a fast break bucket because a player decided to post up at my own 3-point line is maddening. (This can happen in NBA too, but it’s no where near as frequent or as difficult to break out of.)

– I can’t stop my players from pulling up or taking bass-ackwards shots when they have all the room in the world to run to the hoop. Ordinarily I’d think it was because I was doing something wrong, but this is the same control scheme as NBA 2k6 and I have zero problems like this in that game.

– Too much of the game continues to feel canned. I don’t feel like I miss or make shots on the merits of my players skills so much as the timing of the shot, perceived positioning of the defense and the animation being used to depict the shot. And I think the opponent matters too much. I swear I could take a wide open shot with my point guard and make it more often than not if I were playing New Hampshire, while at the same time missing the exact same open shot more often than not if I were playing Duke. That could be entirely my imagination, but that’s how it feels to me.

– The control, even taking away the pre-rendered crap, is best described as herky-jerky. Unless you’re actually in a rendered animation there is absolutly nothing smooth about how this game plays. Half the time I try to make a move I feel like I’m fighting the game and the controller to get my player going where I want.

Now, none of this is really all that different from last year, when I raved about the game. But -bugs aside- for me NBA 2k6 raised the bar and this game just isn’t there to meet it and I’m extremely disappointed right now. I hope to give it more time before I have to return it to Blockbuster (it’s a rental), but I like NBA 2k6 so much it’s hard to imagine setting it aside to play this. Maybe I’ll give coach mode a shot where I don’t have to worry so much about controlling the action myself.

That isn’t to say that the game doesn’t do a lot well. I understand why so many people seem to love it so much. If it didn’t feel so canned to me I’d say the game continues to do an impressive job of reflecting the play and flow of college basketball. And I absolutely adore the new in-game coaching options that allow you to make subs, change defensive assignments and coach up some facet of your players’ play (defense, ball control, shot selection, etc.) all without going to separate menu screens to do it. That’s a feature that’s been sorely needed in hoops games… well, forever I guess. But at first look it’s just not enough if I don’t feel like I have adequate control over my player on the court.

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