High Heat Baseball 2004 Preview
America's favorite pastime has always received a wealth of different video game entries each and every year. Likewise with the upcoming year, at least four well-established series will make their way to the PS2. In hopes of coming out on top, 3DO has put forth a profuse amount of effort into their latest slugger.
Graphically, you can't really complain about 3DO's upcoming slugger. Everything from the players to the stadiums where created precisely and with a high polygon count. The stadiums resemble their real life counterparts accurately and clearly, while the players on field also look well-designed.
Every new sports game features the typical additions: upgraded rosters, improved play modes, etc., but in addition to all that, the animations have been refined quite a bit, making the whole interaction and movement throughout the duration of the game much more realistic. For starters, animations have been added all throughout the play breaks during the game, such as celebrations and marks of disappointment or anger. A pitcher giving away a home run or a player in the field making an easy mistake, for example, are just some of the few that will methodically initiate some type of emotional animation. What's more, the clips from a player picking up a ball to him throwing that ball have been bumped up quite impressively to illustrate a more fluid-looking play. The addition of improved animations makes the visual onslaught that High Heat Baseball 2004 delivers even more devastating.
High Heat Baseball's gameplay has been both solid and intuitive, and thus, 3DO isn't doing quite a lot of tweaking here. However, no game comes without it's gameplay improvements. High Heat's pitching interface is now more dynamic and allows for a greater list of selections. With this improvement also comes the faster paced baseball pitches, which were accelerated to more accurately mimic its displayed speed. Additionally, 3DO promises that the simulated statistics and results of games will be more precise than ever.
Aurally, 3DO has compiled a nice bunch of goodies as well, with an extremely interactive crowd, coupled by the commentating of play-by-play sports casters Dave O'Brien and Chuck Valenches. While they're doing their thing, the crowd will interact accordingly. A close game erupts an exhilarating and adrenaline-injected crowd, while a blowout results in a tranquil audience.
High Heat Baseball is arguably the king of hard ball, and only it'll only be time before we can see if the series will indeed live up to it's name and reputation. We'll be back with more media in the future, so stay tuned for that -- as well as inside looks on other upcoming sluggers.
12/9/2002 Joseph Comunale