Hands-onNCAA College Basketball 2K3

We check out Sega's new entry in its college hoops line.

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At today's Sega Sports Summit, we had a chance to check out an early build of NCAA College Basketball 2K3, the latest installment in Sega's college basketball series for the GameCube, PlayStation 2, and Xbox. The game, which is being developed by Kush Games and produced by Visual Concepts, will offer a unique mix of gameplay in order to stay true to the sport it's based on. The game will make use of a modified NBA 2K2 engine and feature online play in the PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions.

NCAA College Basketball 2K3 is aiming to throw as much authenticity at players as possible. To that end, the game is slated to potentially include as many as 326 Division I teams, with the goal of including every Division I team and its respective arena. Each included team will have the complete 2002-2003 NCAA schedule, roster, and rating. The ESPN license will be prominently used in the player introductions, game highlights, replays, score windows, and other aspects of the game's presentation. NCAA College Basketball 2K3's legacy mode will offer a staggering number of gameplay options for sim fans. You'll be able to create a coach and a school from scratch, and you'll be able to tweak a variety of attributes on your coach to determine his coaching style. Your coaching ability will be judged and you'll get feedback on how you're doing--a helpful but ominous meter shows your job security as you play to give you a sense of what your school thinks of your performance. Once you have your coach and school set, you can join the conference of your choice and begin the season. In the off-season, the game's in-depth recruiting model lets you scout, recruit, and sign talent from the top high schools. You'll be able to sort through your various prospects in a variety of ways. A "gym rat" option actually lets you play against prospective candidates to gauge their skills and gain more information on them. You'll also be able to import your favorite players into NBA 2K3. A rankings system in the game will track your team's performance with weekly top 25 and RPI rankings and a bubble watch for championship tourneys. You'll also be able to compete in classic or custom tournaments. A player editor will let you create your own super player who'll be decked out in a jersey featuring his name on the back. A role-play mode will let you play as one player for an entire game.

Graphically, the game is looking sharp and making solid use of the various platforms. The game looks pretty comparable across the systems, with some negligible variances. You'll find highly detailed stadiums, complete with school-specific cheerleaders and crowds, and the game's atmosphere is heightened even further by the sound in the various arenas, which features chants and fight songs. The player models sport a nice amount of detail and move smoothly thanks to motion-captured animation work done especially for the game. Though early, the build of the game we saw moved at a steady frame rate.

NCAA College Football 2K3's online component will be supported in the Xbox and PlayStation 2 versions of the game, and the Xbox version will support voice chat and the other Xbox Live standard features. NCAA College Football 2K3 is currently slated to ship late this year or early next year for all three platforms. Look for more on the game in the coming months.

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