It's college basketball season and the one college basketball game I've tried, thankfully, is excellent.
2K Sports' College Hoops 2K7 looks good on X-360 (though I'm curious to see how good the PS3 version will be) and plays better.
The game is totally college. You can create your own chants or just allow your favorite college fight songs to play. The crowds really come to life during gameplay and the gyms look just like the real thing, down to the fans crowding the court at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
A few coaches, like North Carolina's Roy Williams, are digitized into the game, otherwise, you'll get the same brown-haired guy who claps a lot and says the same things over and over in cut scenes of the pregame locker room.
Team unity is important and every player's performance can help your team play better.
I love a new mode in timeouts that quickly allows you to change defenses, double-team players or set priorities. In legacy mode, you can recruit new players, check out the postseason brackets and even see a new highlight show. And via Xbox live, gamers can mirror the real life tournament matchups and play for a chance to attend the 2007 Final Four. All in all, a very, very solid title. This feels like campus (Grade: B-plus).
SOCOM: US Navy Seals Combined Assault: The game was built in association with the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command Unit, so you know when you're asked to swim 500 yards, run 1.5 miles, do 42 push-ups, 50 sit-ups and six pull-ups in an hour, well, it's the real McCoy.
I was disappointed graphically in the PS2 and PSP versions, but that may be due to playing so many games in hi-def lately on PS3 and X-360. The storyline and gameplay, however, were fantastic. Your mission is to protect the country from enemy forces in rural and urban environments. You can play online with four players, which was kind of cool. I liked playing alone in my living room and turning the stereo way up. You'll see and feel war all around you.
Better still you can choose how you engage an enemy and enemies behave more like real people and not robodrones who do the same thing every time. Very impressive, and can't wait to see this on PS3 (Grade: B-plus).
SingStar Rocks: This is one of the best party games I've tried in awhile. On PS2, you get two high quality microphones to sing into and you can also use your EyeToy to put yourself onto the video screen.
The game includes song and videos from current artists and you sing along in solo, freestyle and even battle modes with friends. I wish there were more music to choose from, but you'll find more than a few songs to have fun with. The cool thing is to put yourself in the video where Janet or Britney or Mariah would be. Better yet, Gloria Gaynor's favorite "I Will Survive" is in the game. About the only thing missing is Simon Cowell to tell you how bad you sound. Pure fun (Grade: A-minus).
NBA 07: Simply beautiful on Sony's PS3 machine, this NBA sim allows players to download five game scenarios weekly involving real NBA teams from real NBA games and attempt to replay those moments. Think of it as an interactive SportsCenter.
All the NBA teams and players are here. This game isn't as good as 2K Sports' NBA offering, but it looks so good you can get caught up just watching. Control of players is good and the feature to download real-life situations is cool, plus you can play many from the 2005-06 NBA season. Ultimately, though, sports games come down to how well the action is. This one, however beautiful, has good control and TV-style presentation, but if you only have the cash for one hoop title, your money should go to 2K (Grade: B).
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07: The PlayStation 3 version is slightly better looking than the X-360 version we tried earlier this fall. I miss the rumble control in the PS3 controller, something that helped make this game seem more real, having the controller vibrate during tough shots. Sony needs to bring that back.
What I do like about this game is the new training facility, which allows you to really hone your skills and since you start out as a guy who can't hit it far enough to really compete without a great short game, you'll need this area.
There are six new courses, including British Open stalwart St. Andrews, and 15 licensed golfers, including Annika Sorenstam and John Daly. Swinging with the familiar PS controller is easier than on X-360, though the control is sensitive. You'll hit a few in the weeds before you figure it out. Tapping the L1 button for more power while trying to keep the ball straight is difficult, which is a good thing. A golf sim, by nature, should not be easy.
You can choose one of several difficulty settings but a new feature, reactive difficulty, will toughen the conditions if you're regularly going too low. You can also look for some ESPN intergration into the game with tickers and news and radio updates.
All those features are nice, but the super-deep create-a-golfer is almost a game unto itself. You pick out how much overbite you want your guy to have, whether or not he has a scar. My only quibble? Black folks look awful shiny.
EA Sports hasn't left anything out of an excellent game. There are mini-games and the golf season now features the playoff, just like the real thing. It's addictive to try to get yourself onto the money list alongside familiar big names, and the major championship venues, like Pinehurst No. 2, are so accurate its scary.
This is a must-have on PS3, solid in every way (Grade: A).