Developer: Acclaim Studios
Date: March 4th, 2003
Bases-loaded with two outs, your team is down by three. You come onto the plate, everyone watching you. A Grand Slam and your team win’s, a strike out and your team loses. The game is down to these last few pitches, will you walk away the star or walk the walk of shame. I’m so glad I have never been in this short of situation when I played little league. If I did I think I would just break down, just thinking about it makes me shake. I have never been in these nerve wrecking situations but I remember playing the outfield making impressive golden glove catches, those where the days. Probably my best play I have ever done was hit a home-run boy does that feel good. Hitting the pitch perfectly, hearing the sweet ping and watching the ball go out of the park oh you don’t understand the sweetness of the moment. Boy do I wish I could get back on the field and play again.
But if your like me and unable to get onto the field we must try and find a substitute. There is no better substitute then a video game, with the wide variety of different companies making baseball games it’s truly hard to choose from. Each company has its own perks and downs. But video games sure have advanced; trying to achieve true realism. These games come closer and closer to the true feel of the game. The game All Star Baseball 2004 is no exception.
I believe this would be Aklaim’s third edition to their All Star Baseball series. As they say in the cover the #1 Selling baseball Franchise. Well this game definitely meets up to those standards. I have played the previous edition of this series their 2003 edition and boy did it suck. There were bugs all over the place, being unable to even pick up the ball when you are over it kind of defeats the purpose of baseball. I mean everything revolves around the baseball, without it it’s just another pointless and rule less game. Well in 2004 they fixed this bug making it a much more enjoyable game to play. And they added several addition features to the game.
There are 6 modes of play : Quick Play (Exhibition Game), MLB Play (Season Game), Bonus Play (Add on features), Saved Games (Managing saves and loading saves), Special Features (Addition goodies for the player), Download Rosters(Require network adapter)
With this many modes of play you just can’t go wrong with this game. I will briefly explain each mode. Quick mode is pretty much an exhibition game where you choose two different teams and play against each other. MLB Play is season play where you will play against other teams to compete for the MLB World Series. In this mode there are three options, New Franchise where you choose an already existing team and try to get them to the World Series. Next is the new series option where you play a consecutive set amount of games against the team much like the play-offs. Last but not least is New Expansion where a new team is introduced to the MLB, an expansion team with no manager, stadium, or players. A new created team. MLB mode is probably where most the game play will be most focused on. Now for the other add on features.
In Bonus play there are several small features that will help improve your game or just kill time. The first feature would be Pick-up game; this is where you will choose from a list of players to play on your team. You choose one player your opponent chooses another until you and your opponent each have a complete team of 9. Then you start playing after re-organizing your batting order and player positions. Next would be the scenario mode, this mode recreates certain “memorable moments” or unforgettable plays. There are a lot of these scenarios that you can try and pass. They are like missions, once completed you will get a medal depending on how well you do as well as receive bonus material. Don’t worry this will keep you tied over for a good amount of time. If this doesn’t then you can try trivia mode, probably one of the most interesting added features. Are you a true baseball fanatic or not? The questions are so damn hard I couldn’t even answer half the questions they asked me. But when you answer the question correctly you move onto base just like a real baseball game, the harder the question the more bases you move. This is extremely fun for you baseball wizards out their, great way to see who’s more superior. Rather then putting time on the trivia questions you can take some batting practice, this mode lets you understand the batting system as well as get better at batting so you can take down the computer. This should definitely be the first thing you try. After getting striked out so much in batting practice I would go into Home run Derby to release some of the stress I’ve built up from it. It’s so much fun trying to out hit your opponent and eventually pulling off the win proving who the better slugger is. If your bored of these options you can then go into the special features.
The special features as listed above are mainly for entertainment purposes Player cards, Rosters, Options, Stadium Tours, Multimedia, and Credits. Player cards are much like madden cards where you can buy/get from doing certain things in a game. These cards are like cheat cards giving you a special boast or some items. I have not tried these cards yet so I’m not completely certain how to use them yet. Roster management is where you trade players and change the default rosters. The options menu allows you to edit and change the in game options. Stadium tours would be an interactive tour of the stadium you would want to look into. Multimedia are media clips from baseball greats, and certain events. The last option in this is the credits where they show the creators of the game.
The last mode that is available is probably the most interesting at least to me. Downloading rosters from the internet, making sure the teams are up to date. This is a great option for these types of games, this way it will truly feel like you are playing with your team.
Now onto the game-play, the game overall performs quite well. Quite a simple system, pitcher tries to pitch inside the white box with his different variety of pitches trying to strike the batter out. While the batter just tries to find the course of the pitch and get it within his batting box. The stronger the batter the bigger the box, and boy does a bigger box help. Pitcher boxes are almost invisible it’s so sad ?. Once the batter is able to hit the ball the fielding comes to play, quite an interesting mechanism. Lacking the turbo ability it’s hard to always catch up to the hit ball. And if you do some require a jump catch, dive, or slide you must hit the R1 perfectly in order to make the crazy catch. The fielding is also different to other games I’ve played before. The game uses the buttons as base locations, circle as first base, triangle as second, square as third, and x as home. It requires some getting use to but it’s actually quite effective. And one last button would be the L1 button which throws to the middle man, used quite often in real baseball. Without good batting you can never put a threat to the defense.
Like I mentioned before batting is not an easy task to accomplish. Moving the batting box into the correct location is quite difficult especially against the computer. But one feature that is quite cool is the check swing option. You will only complete a full swing when you hold down the button, quite an interesting system but works quite well. Once you get on base which is quite hard, the base running is requires some practice. In order to steal base or retreat you must hit L1 or R1. L1 to steal, R1 to retreat you can also hit the triangle button or circle button with the respective base button to advance or retreat. This allows you to manage the base runners easier. You have to be careful or the pitcher might pick you off. The last but not least is sliding, I still cannot figure out how to slide. This would be a great feature to know making it easier to get doubles or triples. It also gives a chance to knock over the defensive player.
After understanding the basic commands you are now ready to bust out a game against your friends or foes. Playing against the computer or another human player, the game has a very different feel. It is so much harder playing against the computer, human players you can assume and see the path of the pitch so much easier. Even if it’s easier it’s not the only reason to play with friends, you are able to play with more then one extra opponent having a total of four players going head to head. This is a great addition to such a game considering that all the games have a max of only 2 players. So much fun to play with your friends, but such a pain to take down the computer damn THEM!!!!
The game overall is quite fun, the system has been improved and makes the game very enjoyable. But there are still little kinks in the game that require to be fixed up. The game has laggy load time as well as a delay in pitches at times. When this lag occurs the pitch is a lot easier to respond to. Even with these downsides it wasn’t that bad to bring it down. Unlike 2003 where the bugs are horrible there was no way to actually play the game with them. I would put this game in the must buy range for all you baseball fans out their. Go get this game it’s fun and pretty complex for those professional players and if your playing with newbies you can change the batting to easy where the player just needs to time to bat. If they added network play to the game probably would be out of their competitions league. Like a fantasy league to play. It retails for $49.99 which is a decent price but it should be definitely worth it if you can get it for $40 or under. Go grab this game and mash the computers for me! I want to win ?. Make your team the champions. Good luck slugger.
Score : 8.9/ 10