|Playstation > Whats New > PlayStation Reviews > Staff Review|
|A.P.I Review:||High Heat Baseball 2000|
No.1 No.2 No.3
|Game Type:||Sports||Memory Card|
|Review Date:||May 1999||Dual Shock/Analog Compatible|
Setting the Scene
The spring season is firmly headed into summer, the smell of
barbecued food is in the air and the lazy, hazy days are just around the
corner. What better time to kick back and enjoy a rousing game of video
Well 3DO's first Playstation attempt at a baseball game has just arrived at our offices and we were all eager to dig in and give it a whack. What we found next can only be explained as a beginners attempt to hack into the lucrative Playstation sports market currently dominated by 989 Studios, EA and to some extent, InterPlay.
So pull up a nice uncomfortable chair (you don't want to fall asleep), crack open a brewski actually you may want to think about cracking open a few and getting a little hammered first because it's time to play High Heat Baseball 2000!
Yeah, I guess you can already see where this review is going oh well -"PLAY BALL!"-
Sound & Vision
Since it's a baseball game, you come to expect certain things such
as pipe organ music, crowd noises and first rate announcing. High Heat has
all of these things, but it's almost as if they were afraid to use them.
Organ music plays more at random then at key points in the game so don't expect to be swept away by rally chants when the bases are loaded.
The crowd is certainly out there somewhere but I have to believe there is never a sold out house because they are so polite and quite most of the time. You would think that belting out a grand slam in your home park would elicit a near riot from the stands, but all you get is a quiet cheer that is no different from hitting a single. Boo's and taunts are all but non-existent.
The sound in the game is saved somewhat by the competent announcing of Ted Robinson but even he is rather reserved and there is no color man for him to play of off. Players names are called off correctly, plays are rattled off in a timely manner and he even does a good job of keeping track of a players previous at bat, but there just seems to be no excitement or emotion in his voice. It sounds as if Teddy is reading off of a script, which is of course exactly what he is doing but it could have been made to sound a lot more enthusiastic.
The graphics unfortunately are not even up to par with the sound. The stadiums are all accurately reproduced but end up being rather drab in appearance and pixilate horribly when viewed up close. The crowds are just smears of browns and whites and just seem to blob together in a rather unconvincing mess. The sky in the background does look nice however and features moving clouds and sunshine complete with lens flaring.
The character models are a major disappointment, as all of the players appear identical to each other. Besides the variation in color, all of the players are on the thin side with sharp polygon edges. It was a travesty to witness the huge Mark McGwire reduced to a mere pipsqueak.
There is some interesting and amusing animation sequences from the batters as they strike out, stretch or get hit by a pitch, but they are often cut short and move unrealistically into the next sequence of events. The frame rate is also a bit choppy and prohibits the gameplay from moving along in a realistic manner.
High Heat offers up the standard baseball fare like all of the major
league teams and their stadiums, exhibition, season, playoffs and home run
derby modes and even something called family mode. The one glaring
omission is the absence of a create-a-player mode. Ouch! Someone dropped
the ball on that one.
Jumping into a season is pretty easy; select your team or teams that you wish to guide through the season and decide if you want to actually play the game or have the computer simulate the event and just give you the outcome.
You can also do a bit of fine tuning before starting off each game such as setting the number of innings, camera angles, wind, errors, injuries and such. The game will even let you decide if you want the computer to run the bases for you, field, pitch and bat. You can select all, some or none of these options which I thought was nice.
You may also recruit from your farm league and shuffle up the battle lineup before starting. Of course, these things you have come to expect in a baseball game.
Upon starting the actual game I immediately noticed that I could not get a behind the pitcher camera angle! What's up with that? The only angles available to me were a low, medium, high and random all taking place from behind the batter.
Pitchers mimic their real life counter-parts with their favorite pitch selections. Pressing the L2 button highlights that pitchers favorites in addition to displaying the other pitches that could be used. A simple press of the "X" button and directional pad and your pitch is on the way. Pitchers can also pick off runners and throw pitch-outs.
Infielders and outfielders can be moved around prior to the pitch, so that you can plot your defense strategies and then place the fielders. Once you field a ball getting it to base is also accomplished by pressing the "X" and the directional pad towards the base you want to throw the ball to.
Batting is rather tricky, as there is no little box showing where the ball is going to end up. It's really all about timing and learning to properly anticipate a pitch. You can control the way a batter swings such as high, low, left, right and bunting but you can't move the player around in the batter's box at all. Pushing the directional pad to the right and pressing "X" will result in the ball going towards right field for example.
I actually found the AI in High Heat to be rather good. Leaving some of the auto settings on to see how the computer would react in certain situations resulted in some impressive plays. When a pitcher gets fatigued the computer will replace him. I also witnessed some aggressive line-up changes when it fell behind during a game. If you can get past the bad graphics, jerky player motions and lack of ambience, you might actually be in for a challenging game.
Playing through around 40 games in season mode, I was also impressed with the stat tracking and the fact that not one single bug popped up and spoiled the season for me. Games also played out pretty fast (30 to 40 minutes).
Overall, the game reminded me very much of the first Pennant Race game with slightly better computer AI. I suppose Studio .366 had to start somewhere and this actually isn't a terrible first effort for the Playstation, but it simply cannot compete with the veteran baseball titles that are available today. With better graphics, some good color commentary, a bit more "atmosphere" and some additional fine-tuning on the animation side, High Heat 2000 may be able to compete in the big leagues. As it stands right now, it plays a good game of baseball that just doesn't look or sound very nice at all.
I certainly cannot recommend that you run out and buy High Heat Baseball
2000, there are actually a few glimmers of promise within the game that
enlists hopes for a better follow-up next year. Certainly a lot of the
major components are there, they just have to be tweaked and fine tuned
a lot more to enable the game to compete with the 3rd & 4th
generation baseball titles that are currently available.
If you still want to see for yourself, 3DO is offering a nice little guarantee. If you don't think High Heat 2000 is the best baseball game that you have ever played, simply return it and 3DO will let you trade it in for another one of their fine games. Guess you can't beat that.