Draft Day Sports: College Basketball 3 Review (PC)
March Madness may be in the rear view mirror, but a game has been recently released that deserves the attention of all hoop heads. Draft Day Sports: College Basketball 3 (DDS: CB3) builds upon the foundation of the previous two entries in the DDS: CB series and promises a completely rebuilt UI and new features such as international recruits, rating enhancements, new recruiting tactics and expanded historical features. There is also a promotion/relegation option in the game. The real question however: Is the game worth buying?
Gameplay & Career
Upon booting up DDS: CB3, you're given the option to start a new career, load a saved career, or play an exhibition game. Choosing to start a new career let's you customize the logos, team names, conferences, players, and difficulty. One of the cool things about how difficulty is handled in DDS: CB3 is that you create your own coach and then set his current level of ability and his maximum level of ability. This creates difficulty without traditional easy, normal, and hard modes.
I highly recommend downloading a real world mod if you're really interested in this game; it raises the immersion factor tenfold. The one I used was the Valadarix D1 NCAA Mod but there are also others available at the Wolverine Studios forum. Downloading and installing mods for the game is easy and adds so much to the authenticity of what is an unlicensed game.
After you create your coach, you're given a list of open jobs that you have been offered. This is somewhat similar to the Closed Legacy mode in College Hoops 2K8, where you work your way up from a smaller position or school and try to land your dream job. You will be offered head coaching jobs as well as assistant coaching jobs. If you wanted to start at Arizona for example, you may have to begin as a third assistant coach and work your way up the ranks. However if you're okay with breaking in at a smaller school, there are some opportunities to start as a head coach. Each job is assigned a prestige level, as well as a facilities and an academic rating.
In one career I began with the game's version of Austin Peay and was given two goals for the upcoming season; don't finish last in the conference, and finish with a record above .500. In another, I took a job with High Point and my goals were to finish in the top half of the conference, and win 15+ games. At larger institutions you will be given much tougher goals.
After beginning your coaching career, you're able to buy scouting reports from each region of the United States, a National report, and an International report, depending on your budget. From there you set out recruiting for your school on your budget, calling recruits, getting game tape, planning visits, etc. The interface for all of this is pretty intimidating for newcomers to text sims to be honest. But in fairness, those who have experience with these type of menu heavy games should be able to pick up most of the important stuff within the first few hours. It definitely has a learning curve, even for text sim veterans like myself.
Once the season starts you have to manage recruiting, setting up practices, and playing or simming the games on your schedule. Your AD will make you a schedule based on what you ask for and you can edit it. Juggling all of these responsibilities is sometimes fun, sometimes maddening. Either way, it's a pretty fair simulation of what I imagine a college coach would have to endure.
When coaching the games, and I do recommend coaching your games, you're given two options. A 2D view and Gameview. I had trouble getting 2D to work without crashing, so I preferred using Gameview. It's like a mixture of an interactive box score and ESPN's real time Gamecast. When coaching the games you are given the same options as in DDS: CB2, make subs, call timeouts, work/yell at the ref, set up your after timeout plays, and make tempo and other coaching adjustments. As I said before, this really is a menu heavy game, even moreso than other text sims like Out of the Park Baseball and Football Mogul. This is especially true when using the depth chart and sub matrix. Both still need a lot of work in my opinion to be more user friendly. It's all very unintuitive. I also really wanted more options to choose to feed a hot player the ball during games and options like “feed the post” to get my big men involved. Late game coaching decisions also feel hindered by the interface itself. Overall the menus are improved subtlety from DDS: CB2, but not by much.
In a landscape without college basketball gaming on consoles, Draft Day Sports: College Basketball 3 is the best option available. This game surpasses Draft Day Sports: College Basketball 2 with the additions of international recruiting and a more refined simulation engine. I'm genuinely conflicted on whether to recommend this game to everyone. On one hand, it's the most in-depth college recruiting simulation ever made. On the other hand, the menus are cumbersome, the actual coaching during games needs more options, and the UI desperately needs a complete overhaul to be more intuitive and user friendly. If you've never played DDS: CB2 then I'd say give this one a go. It's amazing at times, frustrating at others, and it's still rough around the edges. If you got your fill of recruiting in DDS: CB2, or you're still playing College Hoops 2K8, you can probably pass.
Learning Curve: The menu system is still cumbersome and getting comfortable with how to do everything at your disposal will take quite a bit of time. Even then, once you've learned where everything is, you'll still yearn for more specific options. The game wrapped inside the menus is very well done.
Customization: Getting the game set up with real school names, court graphics, and other real world touches is easy for anyone with even basic PC game experience. Visit the forums at Wolverine Studios for help getting the mods up and running. Real players are absent as expected, and I haven't seen anyone working on that. You're free to customize every player in the game however.
In-Game Presentation: Still not at the level of Out of The Park Baseball or Football Manager, DDS:CB3 has a lot of really cool touches. It's not going to impress anyone with presentation, but it does a reasonable job giving you the data that you need while including nice touches like a bubble watch.
Recruiting: The strongest part of the game is the recruiting engine, which received nice upgrades from the last version. Does a great job of making you feel the frustration of being a college coach.
Score: 7.5 (Good)