For the past several years, in both NBA and College basketball games, the 2K series has been the game of choice over EA's ballers. This year is no exception. It returns the same excellent gameplay that we've come to expect from the series, and adds some new elements that enhance the experience. College Hoops 2K8 is definitely your best option for a college basketball game this season.
2K8 is simply a fun, tight, clean basketball effort. Most of the glaring flaws that were present in last year's game have been tightened up, and there are several new features to the gameplay that will keep the game new. That has been one of the complaints of the series in recent years-that it's really just the same game with a fresh coat of paint each year. The new feature that you'll most likely be using the most is the new defensive lockdown feature, which has been brought over from the NBA version of the game. This feature has been designed to help you stick with the lightning fast point guards of college ball. By simply pulling the left trigger, you'll be locked on to the ball handler, and most times you'll stick right with them and in front of them. The system works very well, but it's also flawed. The problem is that if you get caught with your center on the point guard, your big guy will be able to stick with the point guard like white on rice, which is obviously very unrealistic. It's still a fun mechanic, however, and an overall positive addition to the gameplay.
There are a couple of other additions this year as well. First is the new passing mechanic. Of course, you're more than welcome to stick with the standard chest pass every time you give it up, but now you'll be able to mix it up a bit. By holding down the left trigger, you'll open up the bounce pass, lob pass, or lead pass depending on which face button you hit. It is definitely more entertaining to see your player throw different kinds of passes, but I rarely noticed an instance where making one of these advanced passes actually helped me at all, save a couple of lead passes to the basket. It seems to be more of a visual advancement. The other big new feature is the sixth man meter. This is a meter that fills up more and more as the home team does well, and the crowd will get more and more into the game-momentum does play into this game quite a bit. However, it's kind of unrealistic at times because even if the home team is down by 30, they'll still get into it and go nuts just as enthusiastically as ever. Overall it's a nice way to build momentum and feel the crowd getting into the game. If you're familiar with the series, you'll be familiar with the controls. Other than the big changes noted above, the controls are very similar, and you won't take much time at all to get the old college feel back.
Visually, this is a good looking game. Not great, but good. In general, EA's basketballers have looked and moved a little bit smoother than 2K's, as far as player models and animations are concerned. The pattern for the College Hoops series has been that it simply looks marginally better each year. This year is no exception. It doesn't look all that different from last year, although it does look a bit more polished and has gotten smoother since the developers have gotten another year under their belt. For the most part, animations run together smoothly, the crowds look good, and the basketball environment is solid.
Dynasty mode is where you'll spend most of your time in this game, as usual. My reactions to the changes this year are mixed. There are many new drills that have been added that let you hone the skills of an individual player on practice days. These drills are fun a few times, but after these few times, they become little more than chores, and my guess is you'll be simulating them before long. Amateur basketball leagues and high school players have been added as playable games, to give you a better opportunity to scout which players you want to sign. This is a good idea in theory, but personally, I have enough games to play without adding another set of high school games to the docket. The recruiting, in my opinion, has taken a step back from last year. The bulk of the recruiting is simply navigating menus and it gets very complicated, and you're not given much help. It too becomes more of a chore than a fun activity.
Obviously, you also have your quick game option, your practice modes, training mini-games, and other such normal game modes. The online mode in 2K8 shines as a high point in the game. There are many options online, and the gameplay we experienced was free of lag or other interruptions.
Overall, College Hoops 2K8 is your best college basketball option for this year. The game looks good, the gameplay is as sharp as ever, and the feel of college basketball is there. If you're a college basketball fan, then this one is easy to recommend.