reviews\ Dec 27, 2002 at 7:00 pm

SEGA Sports(tm) NCAA

Sega Sports has done a fine job of creating an excellent crop of sports games across all major consoles and NCAA Basketball 2k3 is a prime example.  The game provides the most polished and accurate representation of college basketball to date.  The gameplay is very well done, and even supersedes NBA 2k3 on several fronts.  With hundreds of teams, good graphics, deep game modes and excellent atmosphere, NCAA Basketball 2k3 is the college hoops experience to check out this year.


NCAA 2k3's gameplay is extremely smooth.  The passing is much smoother and easier than NBA 2k3, as you can either have the game choose who you pass to, or you can use the C stick to manually pass.  Players used to playing pro-ball games will quickly notice the differences between pro-ball and college ball.  In pro-ball, you can run a high-scoring game with one player scoring most of the baskets.  However, in NCAA 2k3, the defense is much more astute, making it harder to score loads of dunks and buckets as you would in a professional basketball game like NBA Live 2003 or NBA 2k3.  NCAA 2k3 requires much more of a team effort than most basketball games, so you won't get very far unless you know how to pass.


The game boasts over three hundred Division 1 teams and stadiums.  Each team is accurately represented in terms of strengths and weaknesses.  The game does a great job of creating an atmosphere, as away teams are booed and heckled throughout the game. One great example of this is when the away team steps up to the line to throw free throws; the crowd will boo and hold up signs that say "Brick".


The game features six gameplay modes; Exhibition, Season, Tournament, Legacy, Practice and Gym Rat.  While the rest are fairly self-explanatory, the Gym Rat mode sounds a little strange.  Gym Rat mode allows you to play a friendly game in a college gym, either two-on-two or five-on-five.


Of the game's six modes, the Legacy mode is definitely the most engaging.  This mode puts you in the shoes of a coach trying to rise in the ranks of college hoops, from a smaller school to a choice larger school.  You can scout players from high school and deal with graduating players and those leaving early for the NBA.


The game's graphics are a bit more polished than those of the PS2 version, but could still be better.  The player models aren't very detailed, and the game makes simple use of shadow and lighting effects.  The crowds also look pretty nasty, composing of simple 2D images that move around unrealistically.  However, the player animations are very smooth and look great, and the courts are nicely detailed.


The game's sound is very good. The game features many school fight songs, nicely reproduced.  The commentary is also really good, albeit a little bit delayed at points.  The crowds also do a nice cheering/booing job.


With good graphics, deep game modes, and smooth gameplay, NCAA Basketball 2k3 is an excellent title that should be considered one of the best basketball games around, and certainly the best game of college hoops.  Anyone who wants a game that finally does college basketball some justice should look into NCAA Basketball 2k3.


#Reviewer's Scoring Details


Gameplay: 9.0
The gameplay in NCAA 2k3 is great.  The controls are smooth and easy to grasp, and the game modes (especially the Legacy mode) are engaging and very well executed.


Graphics: 8.5
While not quite as detailed as other basketball games, the graphics in NCAA 2k3 are very clean looking.  The animations are superb, and the courts look very nicely detailed, although the crowds could use a lot of work.


Sound: 8.9

Most of the school's fight songs have been nicely reproduced, and the crowd noises are very good.  The commentary is also pretty good, but oftentimes a little delayed.


Difficulty: Medium

The game provides a much different experience than a typical pro-basketball game. The defense’s AI has been significantly upped, making it much harder to have a high scoring game.


Concept: 9.0
Over 300 Division 1 teams are accurately represented, complete with their strengths and weaknesses.  The gameplay modes are also very deep and interesting.


Multiplayer: 8.9

The game features four-player gameplay in most of the modes, which is great, but some online play would have made it great.


Overall: 9.0

With six game modes, a complete Legacy mode, and most of the Division 1 teams represented, NCAA College Basketball 2k3 is the most complete college hoops experience around.


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