Pros: Game play, Graphics, Spirit of the game, Authenticity, Stadiums, Controls
Cons: Loading screens, Commentary
I have been playing basketball games on several video game consoles for years. These games have grown quickly with technology to become wonderful visual and intellectual masterpieces. The combination of playing every season game and making coaching decisions behind the scenes creates endless possibilities of playing. You can just coach or just play and still have an enjoyable time. The graphics and game play are superb, especially with the new Motion Offense engine. The essence of the college basketball race to the Final Four, through conference tournaments, top 25 battles, and the six games of the NCAA tournament remains intact and is adequately represented. The only drawback to this game is the tedious loading screens before games and simulation of games during dynasty mode; the commentary is repetitive after you've played a while as well.
The essence of college basketball lies within the Top 25 ranking system. Teams vying for supremacy within conference play and within the league as a whole are as exciting as ever; and it all culminates at the end of the season the NCAA tournament. 64 teams battle out a playoff bracket to determine the champion. The spirit of college basketball is interwoven in the game, nothing is lost. Whether your team is the top dog or underdog, you can help them through the season and battle to the top along with all the other teams. Nothing is lost from the real experience.
This game offers several different modes of play. You can either play a single game through exhibition mode or you can control a team and play through their seasons year to year and act as their coach with Dynasty mode. Game play is the same in game between both modes, but in Dynasty mode you are allowed more control over the team on a larger scale of things. You control recruiting and training as well as schedule and setting the roster. While in game, the controls are typical of other games and it’s pretty easy to pick up if you've played any basketball game before. The passing scheme can be accessed through pressing the L2 trigger and all your teammates have a button over their heads which you can press to pass the ball to them on offense or switcher defenders on defense. This is more accurate than the pass button which passes to the closest teammate. You can run plays by pushing the L1 trigger and your teammates will move to give you better opportunities to score. The players are very intuitive and do what you tell them with accuracy. Shooting is determined by timing of pushing the shoot button, Square. Defense is manageable because the movements act in relationship to the ball carrier so you can stay in good defensive position without getting beat easily. The difficulties provide a challenge for real gamers but are easy enough for newcomers. There is a broad learning curve that allows anyone to play successfully.
The graphics of the game are superior as expected and make game play seem very realistic. The players move like the real thing and the difference between the game and a TV broadcast is imperceptible. Game play is enhanced with a new Motion Offense system that controls all five players on the floor running a play rather than just the ball handler. This is the core of NCAA Basketball, the motion offense. There are no flaws with the game play or graphics, my expectations were met.
The stadiums are all unique and represent their real life counterparts accurately. The student sections go crazy when the game is close and really do have an effect on what is happening in the game. In the more prestigious schools free throws are very difficult to make in the Top 20 most difficult places to play arenas. The sounds of the game are typical of a basketball game and are accurate. However, the commentary is repetitive and at times inaccurate, this has been a flaw in every video game so it’s not entirely the game's fault; computers just aren't as smart as live commentators.
The game play and ideas of the game are brilliant and mirror their real life counterparts; the structure of the game provides road blocks for contingency and make the player feel like lots of time is wasted. Before you can start playing a game you have to wait through a loading screen that takes a while to finish. The game hops to a street court where you can goof around until the game starts, this is fine the first few times but you can only dunk so many times before getting bored. These breaks in the action extend impatience of an excited basketball fan waiting to see if his team has what it takes to win the championship. Also, the commentary is repetitive and at times inaccurate, this has been the key flaw to every video game commentary; computers just aren't as smart as live commentators. These reasons aren't enough to not get the game, but it just brings it down from perfect to very good.
The game is a great way to enjoy college basketball all year round and live out your dreams of your favorite team becoming world beaters by winning the tournament. The game play and graphics are superb, no complaints. The spirit of the game can be relived again and again, it is spot on. However, the loading delays and sketchy commentary this game isn't perfect. If you enjoy college basketball, it is still worthwhile to play.