If you're looking to fill your apartment with screaming college students—and who isn't?—EA's latest college hoops game supplies the vibe and saves you the cleanup. With the series' jump to next-gen, NCAA 07 March Madness has focused on bringing a manic, deliriously excitable crowd to your living room. Whether they're hopping at Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium or jumping out of their seats in Syracuse, the game's sixth man claps in time to fight songs, quiets when the opponent is on an 11-point run, and wails "Three!" in unison when someone fires a shot from long range. The electric atmospheric isn't just in the stands, either—players clap ecstatically after foul calls, benches erupt after a big shot, and skywalkers out their enthusiasm by giving a post-dunk fist-pump.
All that attention to atmospheric detail does come at a cost. The shooting takes a lot of getting used to, the distant camera position makes it tough to know who's who on the court, the ball magically warps a good 12 inches toward a player's hands on a rebound, fouls are too ticky-tack, and when shorter players go up for a dunk, the ball will actually go through the hoop. To make up for those loose elements, there's the well-designed defensive Lockdown Stick, and a Dynasty Mode that'll keep you on your couch. But this one doesn't have quite the play-for-play gravity of its superior competition, College Hoops 2K7.
Beyond the game: The game's best feature is the defensive Lockdown Stick. The game's cover athlete is Adam Morrison. The irony: According to ESPN.com, Morrison is a "pathetic" defender.
Worth playing for: Bring a freshman into Duke, and the Cameron Crazies will ride and ridicule him until his composure meter drops to prepubescent levels.
Frustration sets in when: Each game is preceded by a momentum-boosting mini-game, where you'll need to score X points in X seconds. It's impossible.
Final judgment: Sweet Sixteen gameplay with a Final Four atmosphere.