All Star Baseball 2002 Review
Originally exclusive to the Nintendo 64, All Star Baseball is one magnificent series of baseball games. Acclaim's first attempt at a baseball game proved to be better than anything out there. All Star Baseball featured decent 64-bit visuals and excellent baseball gameplay, with simulation aspects far above any other baseball title. Triple Play, while a great looking game, leaned more towards arcade and pseudo gameplay, with its homer-happy batting system. Sadly we would never see Acclaim create a PSOne version of ASB, mostly because the PSOne already had its dominants: Sony's MLB franchise, and EA's Triple Play games. But one faithful day, during E3 2000, Acclaim would announce the development of an All Star Baseball game for the PS2, they would hand out CDs with real-time screenshots of baseball fields that will be seen on the PS2 version of ASB. They would also say that the fields consist of a hefty 10,000 polygons each, now they got our attention. Further more, ASB 2002 will be only released on the PS2, which made future PS2 owners even happier. Spring Training comes and goes, as baseball gets ready to be in full swing again and 3rd party giant EA Sports tries to bring out a PS2 baseball title. Madden hit a homerun, FIFA 2001 hit a homerun as well, NHL 2001 gets to third base, and so does NBA Live. Triple Play on the other hand, hits a ground ball down the center, which is picked up the second baseman, it's slightly overthrown and Triple Play slides into first and stays there. And now Acclaim's All Star Baseball 2002 steps up to bat... the balls is thrown and...
Not exactly Triple Play performance, All Star Baseball still manages to look like a good baseball game. Acclaim does an okay job of recreating athletic models, but to be downright honest the baseball players don't really look anything like they should. Guys like Mike Piazza and Marc McGuire have a very bulky built, but in All Star Baseball 2002 they look lean and trim, a Derek Jeter look if you will. Triple Play on the other hand does a much better job of portraying the athletes' physical attributes, but that isn't the case really. Even though the models don't reflect their counterparts, never the less they look good, they are constructed of a healthy dose of polygons and overall do the job well. The stadiums look incredibly detailed, but the crowds are noticeably pixilated, and sadly the backgrounds don't sport too much flare. I think that some facial expressions would have been a good move, to ante-up the realism factor, but the 130 unique batting stances, and 50 different looking pitches cover that factor. To add to that, Acclaim has spent time on creating 1,500 motion captured animations, which is quite impressive. So while it doesn't "look" better than Triple Play, ASB certainly plays and moves better.
(Continuing from intro)... it's a HOMERUN! All Star Baseball 2002 definitely hits one out of the ballpark. It may be visually inferior, but ASB 2002 is a much better playing game than Triple Play. It rarely gets homerun happy, and the game's team statistics are far more accurate than Triple Play's underrated and overrated team stats. This just goes to show you that Acclaim did more research on their game than EA did, and it's quite obvious. Rather than me penetrating the double-digit marker on the scoreboard, so far my highest scoring game was a 7-6 victory with the Mets over Yankess (I'm a Met fan!). And the difficulty was also set on easy. The pitching game is far more advanced that TP's, not only are there 50 different throws, but the selection of throws can range from 4-8, making use of almost all of the controller's action buttons. You will then have to throw the ball after selecting your pitch, throw it within the outlined square and it's fair, outside of the square and it's a ball.
ASB's batting game is incredibly realistic, players come on and get into their individual stands. Take Jose Conseco for example, he's got one of the most awkward batting stances in the MLB, but it works wonders for his game though. His stance is excellently re-created in ASB 2002, if only had the visuals been more realistic, I could've sworn that I was watching a live game. All Star Baseball like any other sports game, has up to date rosters and features a full season mode, as well a training mode, and homerun challenge. What else can I say about ASB 2002, overall it's a much more realistic and enjoyable piece of software than Triple Play is. As far as I'm concerned ASB 2002 is currently the best playing baseball game out there, it got an incredibly deep pitching game, a smooth batting system and realistic scoring to keep the competition tight.
Featuring Bob Brenly as the color commentator, and Thom Brennaman as the play-by-play commentator, All-Star Baseball delivers some great commentary to keep the realism flowing. The announcers talk incredibly clear, the clarity is very high and there's absolutely no hesitation to be heard of. But like many games that feature commentary, ASB 2002 does suffer from some repetitive commentary, but not as badly as Triple Play Baseball did. On occasion the commentators may repeat phrases, thankfully it doesn't happen as much. The crowd noises are also pretty good, they will be dead stiff if the opposing team hits a homerun, but get on their feet when the home team succeeds. One thing I feel is overlooked in all baseball games is that the Mets get no respect in Yankee stadium, and vice versa. Since both teams play very close to one another, you would think that you would find a Yankee fan at a Yankees (away)-Mets (home) game. If developers actually realized that even though it seems insignificant, a little thing like that can grab hardcore baseball fans attention. Good commentary, as well as crowd noises.
ASB 2002's control is similar to Triple Play's controls, except the face buttons such as X, O, Triangle and Square, act as home-plate, 1st base, 2nd base and 3rd base, where instead TP uses the directional pad. Like I said, the pitching is deep, you can have either 4 of the buttons used, or you can have 8 of the action buttons in use, meanwhile when batting you'll only be putting 2 buttons to use. The analog can be used to decide where in the square you'd like the ball to be thrown. Using the analog for running is quite good too, the players run much more smoother than those in Triple Play, and run quicker as well. The controls are fairly similar between the two games, but ASB has got a few little extras over Triple Play's.
After making Triple Play Baseball look like it's the worst baseball game out there, which it isn't, I must say that All Star Baseball 2002 is certainly the only ball game worth your $50. For the record, I can't say that I didn't enjoy playing Triple Play Baseball, the game does have its moments, but its farfetched -homerun happy- gameplay didn't really impress me as much as ASB 2002's did. While Triple Play has the better visuals, All Star Baseball wins in every other category hands down. Not only is the gameplay more accurate, but the commentary is great too, keeping the action fresh and lively. If you're having a tough time of thinking which baseball game to get, rest assured All Star Baseball 2002 is your best bet.
4/10/2001 Arnold Katayev