LOS ANGELES--Though the original debut of 2K Sports' College Hoops on the Xbox 360 came out just a few months ago, the development team behind the game is already hard at work working on the next game in the series, College Hoops 2K7. We had a chance to check out a work-in-progress build of the game on the show floor at the Electronic Entertainment Expo to see how the game has changed since last time.
The biggest change we noticed in 2K7's gameplay was a pretty subtle tweak to the steal mechanics debuted in last year's game. You can still pull off defensive moves by using the right analog stick, but instead of simply swiping the ball to the left or right, you can put a hand up to either the right or left, presumably to get in the way of an attacking player. Alternately, you can go for an actual steal or put a hand up in a shooter's face to try to disrupt his shot. Honestly, although we found it pretty easy to pull off these different moves, it was a bit tough to see how they affected the game on the defensive side of the ball.
Otherwise our game time with 2K7 felt a lot like last year's game--we played a quick match between UConn and Duke, and much like the previous games, it plays like the college game--where smart passing and running set plays usually pay off more than depending on a superstar. We liked seeing the variety of passes found in the game--everything from bounce passes to tosses from the chest were there. Of course, errant passes were routinely picked off by the game's aggressive D, which is a good sign for things to come. Controls seem to be nearly unchanged from last year--you use the left button to call for a pick, the right trigger for sprinting down court, the left trigger for the aggressive modifiers and post play moves, and so on.
Graphically, College Hoops wasn't as flashy or fancy as its NBA cousin, NBA 2K7. Still, we did notice some nice reflections in the hardwood as well as some nice camera angles during free-throw attempts, which we hadn't noticed before--they did a good job of showing off 2K7's next-gen player models, which probably don't match up to NBA's instantly recognizable stars but don't look bad by any stretch. This is a college game, so the players were generally smaller than the pros, which is right in line with the real thing. Better yet, frame rate issues were practically nonexistent in our time with the game.
Considering that last year's dynasty mode was a nice improvement over the previous game, we're hoping that we'll see a similar upgrade this time around, though 2K wasn't ready to talk about much in the way of new features at press time. For the time being, we're happy to report that College Hoops is playing much like you would hope a college basketball game would play. According to game producers, 2K7 is currently 50 percent along in development, so we're certain there will be plenty more in the way of news in the coming weeks and months leading up to the game's fall release. Stay tuned for more.