Fast Break College Basketball 2010 Review (PC)
With the release of OOTP 11 and Baseball Mogul 2011 in the last couple of weeks, I did not think I would have time to play Fast Break College Basketball 2010 (Fast Break). Because God only gave us 24 hours in a day, and because I’ve chosen to have an actual life that involves a real job, a wife and drinking, I planned to push back playing and reviewing Fast Break until next month.
One night I decided to fire up the game up to kill some time before bed. Three hours later the wife was yelling at me to turn off the light and go to sleep. The reason was very clear: I was hooked on another text sim.
Fast Break is a text-sim that makes you the head coach of a college basketball team. Instead of controlling the physical action on the court, you do everything a Division I head coach would do. This includes recruiting, scouting, player development, rotation management, game planning and discipline. How well you are able to perform these tasks depends on several factors. These factors include your school’s prestige, hiring quality assistants and how saavy you are at assembling the pieces of a winning team.
The first version of the game came out around 2003 and I remember it being fun. However, the game was on an old computer of mine that died a long time ago. I cannot remember many specifics to compare what is different in the new version. According to developer Brian Nichols, Fast Break 2010 is more customizable, adds new postseason tournaments, improves the AI in several areas, adds transfers and adds better tracking methods. Whatever Mr. Nichols did, it worked.
You begin your career by creating your coach and distributing points to determine his strengths and weaknesses. Once you find a job, you move straight to the offseason to hire assistants, set your schedule, train your players and begin recruiting. Depending on how you like to play, you will likely spend the majority of your time in the offseason.
Personally, I have never been a huge fan of college sports text sims. Recruiting is always too time consuming and all the players eventually end up blending together. So far, I do not feel this way about Fast Break. The recruiting screens are fully sortable, customizable and easy to read. If you favor stats over ratings, there are plenty of statistical categories to judge players. Players also have two colored squares next to their name that represents their current talent and future potential. The squares are great for a quick overview of a player’s ability.
There is also a realistic number of recruits that are actually interested in your school each year. A lot of that interest stems from how prestigious your school is, but even if you coach a power house, you do not get overwhelmed by the sheer number of kids interested in your school. This helps you better target your recruiting actions and is great for players like me who simply get overwhelmed by the endless blocks of players that appear on your screen. If you are not like me and enjoy spending endless hours recruiting, you are still able to pursue players who initially have no interest. Every now and then, you might actually land one.
Once the actual season begins, the game does not let up. You need to set depth charts, team strategy, and defensive and offensive schemes. You also need to decide if you want to red shirt any players. Since this is college, you also need to keep an eye on your players off the court. Are they upset about playing time? Are they flunking out of school? You can avoid most of these issues by recruiting kids with strong academic records, but just like in real life, you never know what might pop up.
In my opinion, the best part of about Fast Break is how the game rewards you for playing to your player’s strengths. You will not necessarily be successful if all you do is recruit 5-star studs. First, the star-rating system is subjective. It is a good general barometer, but the number of stars does not tell the whole story. You need to figure out what type of team you want to build and find players that fit that vision. I prefer athletic players with guards that can shoot 3s and inside players with high marks in offensive rebounding and shot blocking.
I try to target my recruiting to these types of players and then build my game plans around this style. If I fail to recruit players that fit my vision, I need to alter my game plan to emphasize what strengths my players do have. You will not be successful in Fast Break if you are stubborn and try to shoehorn players into one specific style.
For the most part, the game produces realistic stats and player development seems believable. The frequency of bench players complaining about playing time seemed a little high, but I am not a real-life college coach so I guess I do not know how much players actually complain about this. I do wish we could hire one more assistant coach to help with recruiting efforts. Recruiting can be daunting and on occasion you might get completely shut out of players you covet. It would be helpful to have one more assistant that you could have focus on lower-end recruits in case your main targets fall through. That way, you are not forced to use multiple walk-ons if you have a disaster recruiting year.
Finally, where is the option to cheat? I would like the option to offer recruits and players cash, cars or the answers to an upcoming test. Of course, if I get caught, I should be punished Or in the case of John Calipari, given a multi-million dollar contract with another school.
There are numbers, names, menus and drop-down bars everywhere you look in Fast Break. It will look intimidating at first, but once you get used to it, you will see that the game’s interface and menus are done well. Thanks in large part to the game’s customizability and sorting options on the recruiting screen, you can actually recruit with minimal mouse clicking. I especially like the hot seat screen, which is a simple screen that reminds you of tasks you need to do before advancing the game.
It would be nice if photos could be added in future versions. Draft Day Sports College Basketball incorporates fictional player photos and it makes for a more immersive and connected game experience. However, I get the sense that the developer cares more about making the game as realistic as possible and probably did not have the time or resources to put into photo incorporation. If the series continues, maybe it will pop up in the future.
I did not have very high expectations when I first played Fast Break 2010. Now I find myself playing it as much as OOTP 11. Sure, the learning curve might seem steep, but it is much easier to pick up and play than the aforementioned OOTP 11, in my opinion. College sports text sims can be an intimidating and time consuming experience. While there is plenty of depth and immersion in Fast Break, the pace of the game is quick and you will rarely find yourself lagging.
Once you start playing, however, clear your schedule for a while. The game sucks you in. Before you know it, three hours have flown by and your wife is yelling at you to go to bed.
On the Field: The game grabs your attention immediately. Surprisingly, recruiting does not wear you down and you need to have an actual plan if you want to succeed.
Graphics: The menus look good and are well organized. Screens with stats and ratings are also customizable and sortable.
Sound Design: This is a text sim. If you bought it looking for sound, you will be disappointed.
Entertainment Value: The game has a quick pace that draws you in and keeps you focused. Once you land your first prized recruit or pull off your first upset, you will become fully addicted.
Learning Curve: Daunting at first, but I thought it was easier to pick up on than most highly regarded text sims.
Online: Fast Break 2010 also improved online play capabilities. There are leagues out there, you just need to search them out.
Final Score: 8.5
To learn more about FBCB2 or order the game, visit http://www.greydogsoftware.com/home.php.