Like the NFL 2K series and the MVP Baseball series from EA Sports, the College Hoops series is a defunct series that sports gamers have been missing since the legendary College Hoops 2K8. With all of the improvements to NBA 2K since CH 2K8’s release in 2007, fans can only envision what the team at 2K could do with the series now. What if 2K was releasing College Hoops 2K12? Here’s what the OS review might look like.
One Shining Moment Mode
The biggest addition to College Hoops 2K12 is the One Shining Moment mode in which gamers can reenact some of the greatest games in NCAA history. As added bonus, 2K was able to add the real likenesses of the heroes of March Madness’ past (as long as they've left the university), along with their signature shots. By winning these games, you unlock the teams for use in exhibition games and Season mode (you aren’t able to use the all-time teams in Legacy mode). Here’s a list of the 16 games in One Shining Moment:
1966 Texas Western v. Kentucky – “Glory Road”
1974 N.C. State v. UCLA – "End of an Era"
1976 Indiana v. Michigan – "Undefeated"
1979 Michigan State v. Indiana State – "Birth of a Rivalry"
1982 North Carolina v. Georgetown – "His Airness"
1983 N.C. State v. Houston – "Jimmy V."
1985 Villanova v. Georgetown – "The Underdog"
1987 Indiana v. Syracuse – "Knight's Last Dance"
1988 Kansas v. Oklahoma – "Danny and the Miracles"
1989 Michigan v. Seton Hall – "Rice Reaches New Heights"
1990 Loyola Marymount v. UNLV – "Cinderella Falls"
1992 Duke v. Kentucky – "The Shot"
1993 North Carolina v. Michigan – "The Timeout"
2003 Syracuse v. Kansas – "Melo: The Freshman Phenom"
2006 George Mason v. Connecticut – "Start of the Mid-Major"
2010 Duke v. Butler – "David vs. Goliath"
One Shining Moment gives players the option to play with rules in effect at the time (no 3-point shot, longer shot clock, etc.) or play the game with today’s rules. However, in order to unlock the teams you need to play with era-appropriate rules. The commentary of Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg also shines in this mode, as their conversations revolves around the impact of the game and what the participants would go on to achieve later in their careers.
One Shining Moment is definitely the highlight of College Hoops 2K12. The likenesses of the players and the superb commentary really immerse the player in the mode. The ability to change the rules adds to the lasting appeal of the mode e.g., Bird’s Sycamores possibly could have beaten Magic’s Spartans if Larry had the 3-pointer in his arsenal. Much like NBA 2K12’s Greatest, One Shining Moment adds an exciting dimension to the college hoops basketball scene.
My Athlete is the equivalent of NBA 2K12’s My Player mode, a mode that was not available in College Hoops 2K8. You create a high school player who participates in a season of the Amateur Basketball League. Based on your performance in that league and in interviews with coaches who come to visit you, you’ll get scholarship offers from different schools. If you’re good enough, you’ll be invited to participate in the McDonald’s All-American game.
Once on campus, you perform drills in order to improve your player and you can earn additional points through meeting certain in-game goals for both your player and your team. Reach a certain level at the end of one of your seasons (the earlier in your career, the higher the threshold), and you can declare yourself for the draft. From there, you can transfer your athlete to the “My Player” mode in NBA 2K12.
The My Athlete mode adds a different element to the game and can be quite a challenge, especially if you are trying to go pro early. The thresholds needed to reach the NBA are quite high, so you’ll need to put in a lot of work to reach them. This adds to the length of the mode since it would be fairly short if you were able to declare for the draft after only one college season every time. My Athlete doesn’t offer the same extracurricular activities like My Player’s endorsements, free agency, etc., but the mode still provides enough fun and challenge for the gamer who dreams of being a star in the Big Dance.
One of College Hoops 2K8’s most revered modes was the Legacy mode, which offered unparalleled depth for recruiting. College Hoops 2K12 takes that mode one step further by bringing it online. You can compete with up to 12 others in an online legacy. Unfortunately, you are no longer able to play the ABL games like in CH 2K8. However, much like the Online Dynasty in the NCAA series, you can do your recruiting away from your 360 or PS3, via 2K Sports Online Legacy website. This mode is great if your wife has your gaming TV occupied with an episode of Toddler and Tiaras or if you’re killing time at work because you can hop onto the site and scout your recruits and steal away your opponents’.
Online Legacy has one major drawback in that you are only able to play as schools from one conference, which makes it difficult for those who don’t get the marquee programs in the conference and get left out of the fun of March Madness (Hello, Big East!).
Online Legacy allows players to use custom rosters as long as every player is using the same set, so your rosters can be filled with real names if your league agrees to them. Fans of the Legacy mode from College Hoops' past will enjoy the ability to compete with their friends to see who can build the best program without the help of shady boosters.
Post-patch College Hoops 2K8 offered some of the most realistic gameplay around, and 2K12 hasn’t messed with that formula. The improvements in gameplay from College Hoops 2K8 to 2K12 are very similar to what improvements players saw in the NBA 2K series. The floor spacing is much better and the new play calling system is much more intuitive and effective. Plenty of new animations have been added, especially shot animations. The game includes all of the sliders that helped make its predecessor such a fan favorite because they allow gamers to tailor the gameplay to their liking.
The graphics in 2K12 have taken a huge step up in four years. The detail in every school’s uniform is outstanding, whereas in 2K8 one might have a tough time discerning Michigan State from Cleveland State, other than the word “Michigan.” The graphics for the crowd and surrounding environment, including cheer teams and mascots, have also taken a huge step up.
As I mentioned earlier, the commentary from Nantz and Kellogg is much deeper in One Shining Moment mode, but it is still impressive in other modes, despite the fact that they can’t comment on individual players. The overall presentation is also strengthened with the weekly “Around the NCAA” show in which Greg Gumbel and Seth Davis break down the week’s action. The show includes highlights from the top performers and games of the week and culminates in a “Selection Sunday” show in which the teams making the NCAA tournament are revealed. I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s pretty cool when your team’s name is called.
College Hoops 2K12 is the game that college hoop fans have been waiting for since the last edition four years ago. The One Shining Moment mode will appeal to both diehard and casual fans who want to reenact some of their favorite match ups and then see how today’s teams would hold up against these all-time greats. Both the online and offline Legacy modes are very deep and give College Hoops 2K12 plenty of lasting appeal. It’s been a long wait since the last edition of the College Hoops series, but all sports gaming fans should be happy that the series has returned.
College Hoops 2K12 is a must-own for basketball gamers.