Triple Play Baseball Review
To this date, games based on America's favorite past-time still don't get the recognition that they deserve. Games like Triple Play and All-Star Baseball have received their fair share of good reviews in the past on the Playstation and N64, but their sales weren't incredible. Baseball just doesn't seem to have the intensity that a sport like hockey or basketball does, yes, there can be tense moments during a baseball game, but the tension can be turned into boredom for many. I am able to sit through a whole game of baseball, I'm not a die-hard fan, it's just that I appreciate almost every sport out there. To be quite honest I enjoy playing baseball both in real life and videogames. To date I see Triple Play 2000 and All Star Baseball 2000 as the two best ball games on any console, both had unrivaled gameplay and great graphics, while TP2000 featured some amazing commentary. So when Acclaim announced their baseball series heading over to the PS2, I was already smelling a duel between Triple Play and Acclaim. EA Sports released Triple Play Baseball as the first PS2 baseball title, and here I am providing you guys with a review of the game.
Not exactly on-par with what EA Sports has done in the past with games like Madden 2001 and FIFA 2001, Triple Play Baseball is still a very good looking game that features visuals we would expect to see on a baseball game. I have always thought of the PSOne's Triple Play 99 and 2000 games as having some of the best sports visuals on a 32/64 bit console, and I had hoped that in the future I would think the same about their 128-bit efforts. For the record, I have to say that "no" the graphics in TP are not better than those found in Madden 2001 and FIFA 2001, but "yes", they do feature more life-like athletic models than NBA Live 2001. The batters are mostly the only players you will see up-close, but in general, the character detail is incredibly good. The athletes are constructed of many polygons to make them look as detailed as possible. The faces and the body definition is some of the best I've seen in a sports game to date, but there are some baseball players that just look ridiculous when compared to their real-life counterpart, this is something that plagued NBA Live 2001 as well. The baseball stadium backgrounds look good for the most part, but not as hot as those in All Star Baseball 2002, that consist of 10,000 polygons per stadium. Overall, a good looking package with minimal point deduction for some sloppy errors.
*Sigh*, I still don't understand why in Triple Play Baseball hitting homeruns can be so overly consistent sometimes. I'm playing a game, I chose the Mets, and picked Yankees as an away team. I set the difficulty on Rookie at first, and in the game hit 15 homeruns! I beat the Yankees 18-4, that was sad. Then I cranked it up a notch to Pro, thinking that it would cause the homerun frenzy to die down a bit, but I was wrong, sort of. In the second inning I began slaughtering the Yankees with 7 straight runs to home plate. After 9 innings I once again flew above the sky with an 11-3 win. I suggest playing the game only on the All-star setting, since there is actually a challenge that way. Triple Play Baseball is a visual upgrade to an excellent PSOne game, but a downgrade in terms of solid replay value. The game is missing a good franchise mode that is a big necessity in today's games, and quite frankly I'm still disappointed over the sloppy AI that EA Sports has included with TP Baseball. In a short description, 'this is arcade baseball at its best'. At least that's how EA Sports is making it come off. The game itself is still a good deal of fun to play, but buyer beware this is not exactly simulation material, so I suggest going with All Star Baseball 2002. I should also mention that Triple Play Baseball has absolutely the worst replay mode I can remember. Not only can you not control the speed of the action with the top buttons like you can in Madden, but you can't switch camera angles! What's up with that!? Other than that, I won't deny that Triple Play Baseball is a fun game, it does have stupid AI problems, a horrible replay mode and hyperactive homerun batting, but if you set the level of difficulty to the max, you may get a little simulation out of this game.
What happened here! What was once Triple Play's best aspect has become its worst. The first thing I was expecting from this game was wonderful commentary, the first fifteen minutes I thought to my self "hey, not bad". But when my homerun streak came along, and I hit four homeruns in a row, the commentators began repeating the EXACT same quote over and over again, it was beginning to get annoying. I would hit three more homers the inning after and the same result, arghh! Who worked on the audio? Couldn't they have at least given the commentators more things to say after homeruns? But I must admit that there still is that good ol' fashion TP commentary present somewhere in the game, at times the commentators will speak about history and tell gamers statistics for a certain player. Crowd cheering is quite good too, and noises such as a hit sound a lot like they would in an actual ball game.
The controls haven't changed at all since the previous PSOne versions. You still use the controller pad as if it was the baseball diamond field. Right and X will throw to 1st, Up to 2nd, Left to 3rd and Down to home plate, tapping X alone will center the ball, giving it to the pitcher. The controls work fine, the analog works well with the new batting and pitching system that was implemented. When you are pitching you will decide the spot at where you want to have the ball thrown, and you have to throw it within the area of a shaded square. If you are batting you will see where the pitcher plans to throw the ball and you have a cross-hare like icon to control, so that you match up the pitch and connect. BUT! Don't get too cocky, you may connect with the ball, but chances are that you will hit it foul or can even pop-it up, so it isn't exactly a cheating device.
This review is obviously shorter than other EA Sports reviews I have written in the past, that is simply because previous games like Madden NFL 2001, FIFA 2001 and NBA Live 2001 saw much more gameplay evolution than Triple Play did with its PS2 title. While Triple Play is a great looking game, it unfortunately succumbs to sluggish AI, that to experienced gamers can even seem weak on the all-star level. The rosters are of course up to date, but the game is missing a much needed Franchise mode to keep the gameplay lasting even longer, and I should note that team statistics on the team selection menu, are way off. I'll personally admit that I do like Triple Play Baseball, but I would have loved the game if only it had more realism to it. Baseball fans should check out Acclaim's All-Star Baseball 2002 game instead.
3/27/2001 Arnold Katayev