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Computing

The PlayStation's boys of summer step up to the plate

May 27, 1999
Web posted at: 10:53 a.m. EDT (1453 GMT)

"Triple Play 2000" takes it out of the yard   

In this story:

'Triple Play 2000'

'MLB 2000'

'Baseball 2000'

'Hardball 99'

'High Heat Baseball 2000'

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



By CNN Interactive
Senior Associate Editor John Robinson

(CNN) -- The 1998 baseball season will undoubtedly be remembered as the year of the long ball and now that we are well into the 1999 baseball season, it appears that the excitement is far from over. While it is too early to predict who will be the best in baseball this year, it is not too early to jump into the action and start a league of your own.

Baseball video games have come a long way since the days of Baseball Stars on the 8-bit Nintendo and blocky little cartoon players have been long since been replaced with realistic looking players sporting motion captured movements.

With five titles available for the PlayStation this year, it can be difficult deciding which game is right for your tastes. In an attempt to make that decision a little easier, we rate the new baseball contenders based on three categories: gameplay, graphics and audio.

Games are ranked on a 1-10 scale in all three categories and averaged for the final score.

All of the new PlayStation baseball titles include full MLB and player licensing along with models of the real stadiums for each team. The Home Run Derby mode is also present in all of the games and is an excellent way to get your hitting skills up to speed before you start trash talking your opponents.



'Triple Play 2000' - EA Sports

Gameplay - "Triple Play 2000" from EA Sports takes a new turn this year adding some arcade elements to its already solid baseball simulation. One of the first things you will notice is the bright red trail that follows the ball. While this is a little strange at first, you'll soon forget about it and find that it actually helps you follow that little white ball. Batting is a lot easier this year and if you really get a hold of it, a huge KABOOM! will sound adding insult to injury. Pitching is also very easy and the addition of analog control makes it a breeze to work the corners and it also ups the realism a notch.
Score - 9.5

Graphics - While the graphics don't break any new ground, there are significant visual improvements with the addition of new animations and players faces. The batters step up to the plate and swing very realistically and players in the field look great jumping and diving to rob you or your opponent of a base hit. If you make a great play in the field or hit a home run, the camera will switch to a TV style close-up view. The game camera can be adjusted to three different positions on offense and defense and does a fine job of giving the game a nice broadcast look.
Score - 8.0

Audio - The over the top sounds like the whoosh of the ball and the exaggerated crack of the bat take a little getting used to but definitely add a bit of extra excitement to "Triple Play 2000." There are lots of stadium sounds, like the over-used "booing" sound that can grate on your nerves if you have the volume up too loud. The two-man commentary of Jim Hughson and Buck Martinez is back and better than ever. The announcers follow the game almost seamlessly and round out what is a very complete baseball game.
Score - 9.0

Final score - 8.8



'MLB 2000' - 989 Sports
"MLB 2000" delivers with a stand-up triple   

Gameplay - Simulation fans can rest easy because the solid gameplay of the MLB franchise returns for another season. MLB's total control batting is still the default although you can now turn off the crosshairs for a real batting challenge. Batting is easy to master on the rookie setting making the learning process go a lot faster and the game ultimately more enjoyable. The pitching is standard fare and consists of picking the pitch you want and the location. The pitcher will automatically throw once you have made your decisions. Playing the field is made simple if you use semi-automatic fielders or more experienced players can choose to take full control of the defense.
Score - 9.0

Graphics - "MLB 2000" has noticeably improved the graphics with better looking players and stadiums. The computer generated intro video is well done and a departure from the normal compressed video clip reel. Animations are smooth and the flat, blocky look of last year's version seems to have been taken care of.
Score - 9.0

Audio - Vin Scully and Dave Campbell return to do the play by play and while they are a little better than last year, they still fail to inspire excitement. Even so, the commentary is usually very accurate and follows the game's action closely. The sound of the powerful whoosh and subsequent crack of the bat are some of the best around and are convincing enough you might just think you're at the game. Ambient sounds are the usual cheers and boos with the occasional chant and interestingly enough, the annoying nacho vendor is back from last year although not quite as loud.
Score - 7.5

Final score - 8.5



'Baseball 2000' - Interplay Sports

"Baseball 2000" stretches one for a double   

Gameplay - "Baseball 2000" offers a solid baseball simulation in a plain brown wrapper. It does everything you expect a baseball game to do and in some cases, better than its competition. The pitching and batting controls are easy to pick up but could use a little extra polishing. The only big downfall with the controls is with the batting because you cannot choose the batters position. In addition, you cannot direct the ball and only have the option of a regular and a power swing.
Score - 7.0

Graphics - Graphics are a double-edged sword in "Baseball 2000." While the animations are arguably some of the best around, the players have generic faces and the skin tones just look wrong. On the other hand, the stadiums are represented in good detail and are definitely a graphical strong point for the game.
Score - 7.5

Audio - In the audio department, "Baseball 2000" does a good job but again, not a great one. The announcer is good at making the calls for the most part but doesn't add a lot of color to the game. The sound effects, along with the crowd and ambient noises are average quality. While the sounds are fairly accurate, they could use a little TLC if this game is ever going to compete in the big leagues.
Score - 6.5

Final Score - 7.0



'Hardball 99' - Accolade

"Hardball 99" is out in a bang-bang play at first   

Gameplay - As the first baseball game available this year for the PlayStation, "Hardball 99" got a jump on the competition by offering fans something to tide them over until the season started. Unfortunately, that is really all that this game had to offer. "Hardball 99" does offers a wealth of options but when it comes to the actual gameplay, it just doesn't make the cut. Pitching and batting are kept quite simple and can actually be kind of fun if you forget that there are other PlayStation baseball games available.
Score - 5.5

Graphics - If this game were released in 1997, it would have been one of the best available. Unfortunately, this is 1999 and Hardball's graphics are simplistic and look incredibly dated when compared to the other games out there. The players move like robots on treadmills and don't do a lot to get you exited about the game of baseball.
Score - 5.0

Audio - The sound effects in "Hardball 99" are good and what you should expect from any baseball video game. The trouble begins when the announcer opens his mouth. The play by play in "Hardball 99" is about as dry as it gets and sometimes innacurate at that. The announcer sounds like a robot and that would have been alright if the robot had a smidge of personality. Good commentary just might have saved this game from the near bottom of the barrel status it garners.
Score - 4.0

Final Score - 4.8



'High Heat Baseball 2000' - 3DO

"High Heat Baseball 2000" keeps the bench warm   

Gameplay - "High Heat Baseball 2000" rounds out another season of baseball on the PlayStation with another game that is good, but not great. Pitching and batting are both acceptable but lack that extra bit of finesse that makes a baseball game really fun. Fielding is difficult because the players move slowly and although that may keep you from over-running a ball, you'll need a lot of practice to make a decent running catch. One neat option that none of the other games offer is a family mode where all you have to do is swing the bat and watch the action. This offers a nice way to remain involved while enjoying a faster-paced game.
Score - 6.5

Graphics - Visually speaking, "High Heat Baseball 2000" swings and flies out to the catcher. Like "Hardball 99", if this game were available two years ago, it would have been a top contender. Instead, it just looks pixilated and sub-standard when compared to the best of this year's offerings. There are some decent player animations and the clouds look awesome but those things just can't make up for the overall mechanical feel of the game.
Score - 3.5

Audio - Crowd noise and the usual sound effects are all in there but offer nothing that could be called inspirational. While other games feature planes flying overhead, angry fans taunting players and peanut vendors, "High Heat Baseball 2000" gives you a crowd that sounds like it on intermission at the opera. There is an in game announcer who actually does a decent job of adding some life to this title but it is just not enough to save this game from eternal mediocrity.
Score - 4.0

Final Score - 4.6


Check back soon for reviews of all the new baseball titles for Nintendo 64.


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Check out CNN.com's Fun & Games Archive


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RELATED SITES:
EA Sports
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Interplay
Accolade
3DO
PlayStation home page
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