ESPN College Hoops
ESPN Videogames arguably delivers today’s best pro basketball offering, yet misses the mark when it comes to the university hardwood. By no means is ESPN College Hoops a poor showing, but it does falter in some key areas. For starters, the graphics aren’t up to par with those in ESPN NBA Basketball, and the camera is too slow when panning around after a change in possession (totally disrupting the natural upbeat tempo of fast breaks). Also, teams rarely play a true college brand of b-ball; most squads won’t ever attempt to pressure or trap the ball handler, both of which are very prominent in EA’s game. One area ESPN College Hoops succeeds big time in is recruiting. Almost nothing is more important in college athletics, and here it’s given its just due. Throughout the season, you’ll continually scout and converse with players via e-mail. The whole process is so involving it’s practically a game within itself. Sadly, this innovative feature and the boatload of unlockables aren’t enough, as this one still feels too much like a pro game in college clothing.
Sega...excuse me, ESPN Videogames’ college game is definitely a tournament qualifier, but not the national champ. The new features rule— you can create your own school, slam through a dunk contest, and explore the revamped Legacy mode. Plus, the slick ESPN presentation replicates what you see on the tube from November through March (sans Dickie V). Sadly, although the title looks amazing, the gameplay feels a little stiff. In attempting to create the most realistic college experience, Sega took some of the fun out of the game.
This game has all the characteristics of college basketball, but closer inspection reveals a lack of follow-through. For example, while teams play in the typical college zone defenses, a lot of the time they can be beaten by using pro b-ball tactics. The A.I. can be a little inconsistent, as well—passes in the open court are often deflected, while passes thrown by defenders in the paint go untouched. Still, it’s not a bad game, but it needs to differentiate itself from its NBA sibling.