All Star Baseball 2002
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PlayStation2 ~ All Star Baseball 2002
A longtime favorite on the Nintendo 64 and Game Boy platforms, Acclaim launches its baseball series on the PlayStation2 with All-Star Baseball 2002. The game is endorsed by the 2000 All-Star Game and World Series MVP Derek Jeter, and matches its realistic baseball simulation with the 128-bit graphic power of the PS2. All-Star Baseball 2002 provides all 30 MLB teams and stadiums (authentically rendered with working scoreboards, Jumbotrons, animated crowds, bullpen action, and fireworks), as well as more than 700 contemporary pro players. In addition, you'll be able to relive history with an authentic Cooperstown team of 25 baseball Hall of Famers, including Reggie Jackson, Nolan Ryan, and Mike Schmidt. The game even has classic uniforms for each club, so you can suit your team up in traditional Brooklyn blue or Astro orange. Thom Brennaman calls the play-by-play and Arizona Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly is there to give the game's color commentary.
Among the gameplay features is the popular Future Throw Technology, which allows you to predetermine a cutoff man or infielder your player will throw to even before he catches the ball. A 3-D batting icon makes it easier to place hits, whether pulling for the fences or driving a grounder through the gap.
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I will note that I'm writing this review after playing it for an hour and a half against my roommate. To be fair (and also to get my money's worth from renting the game), I'll dive into the game again tomorrow morning, but initially I was pretty appalled at the product that Acclaim has released here.
As soon as we finished playing, I sat down and wrote up the good and the bad about this game, and found I had trouble finding much good in this game.
One thing that I liked a lot and my roommate liked very little was the batting and pitching. The batting is a lot different than Triple Play was on the PSX. (I've yet to play Triple Play for the PS2, but think that'll be one of my next reviews). While other games tend to make hitting overly easy, this sways a little too much in the other direction, but I think it's a good thing. Rather than swing high, mid or low, you have total control in two axis and you get an idea via the pitching cursor where the ball is starting out and then as it approaches the plate. I applaud Acclaim for this interface and I think with a little practice, this control scheme would be my interface of choice for my baseball sims.
That being said, the rest of the game is garbage. The controls are lame. Partially Blockbuster's fault, we didn't have a manual, but the base throwing is different and it seems it's different simply to be different. Every baseball game out there PSX, PC, NES, whatever used the control pad and a button to throw - down and X to throw home, left and A to throw to third, or something similar. ASB 2002 uses X, Triangle, O and Square as the base throwing. After being trained since back in the 8-bit days to use the control pad, using the buttons seems unnatural. Had using the buttons given some advantage or speed increase, Acclaim would be revolutionary, but just to be different to be different is lame.
Eventually one could get used to their control scheme for that, but there are more controlling woes. Another unwritten rule is the fact that Triangle is used to back out of menus. This is true for 99% of American games out there. Acclaim uses O to back out of menus, which is more the standard in Japanese games, but Acclaim, this is the United States. Again, this is a little thing, but it's just another annoyance.
My real lament here is the game doesn't feel like the PS2. I pulled up Triple Play 2000 for the PSX and yeah, textures, characters and shadows are head-and-shoulders above the PSX stuff, but I've seen Madden and SSX. The PS2 can do more than what ASB 2002 is doing!
The animations in the game felt very amateurish. A fly ball to the warning track had my roommate settling under the ball. It looked decent, but he had no control. I've got to vote for total control over pretty animations. Also, in terms of the outfield, there was some noticeable blur/jitter-type distortion when the fielder threw back to the infield - unacceptable in anything but a beta version of a game.
Additionally, a grounder to second and then the routine throw to first never looked routine. Every time, the second baseman wound up to throw, he faced toward home, making me fear I had accidentally told him to throw home. Magically, the ball would throw to first though. There's no excuse for animation like that with present-day technology.
Another thing that should be long forgotten in present-day gaming systems is crappy commentary. The commentary was reminiscent of Hardball 3 back in the day for the PC. There's no color or any real chatter. A lot of the sentences sounded pieced together and I can't remember hearing anything that bad since back in the days of 286 computers.
Overall, this game is lame. Once I play it more, and also check out Triple Play for the PS2, I will consider revising my opinions, but based on my first play, I don't think I'll be getting a Playstation 2 baseball sim until at least next season.
Cool feature: controller rumbles when out of strike zone for pitching
Bad Stuff: I can't find a franchise mode, does it exist? graphics bad for fielding balls, guys small and don't move realistically players look ugly when they throw, not realistic player move so slow when fielding, and sometimes they are far from the ball but it miraculously gets scooped up bad camera changes for fielding sometimes, when ball goes down a baseline