High Heat Baseball 2003
Score: 7.0 / 10
The only sport where the action is limited to spurts of 10 seconds or
less when the ball is in play, but what an exciting 10 seconds it can
be. The game can range from simplistic to the frighteningly strategic
and because of that, making a game based on the American national
pastime can be difficult. 3DO’s offering, High
Heat Major League Baseball 2003 is an interesting attempt at a
modular baseball game – one that can be both a simulator and a pick-up
title. The results are a mixed bag; you end up with a title that is
really fun to play once you overlook the problems.
with the opening menus, you’ve got a variety of modes of play to
choose from. Depending upon the amount of free time, you can choose to
play an Exhibition Game, a Season, a Career (follow a franchise through
multiple seasons), have a Home Run Derby, or practice pitching and
batting. The Exhibition menu brings up a variety of options ranging from
specific team rosters to weather, to rule sets, to omniscient rules
(like no errors, computer controlled base-running and fielding). The
settings allow the gamer to be as in-depth as they choose. The Season
and Career Modes lose some of the situational options (like day games or
weather) but have a variety of additional concerns such as trades, free
agent signings, and drafting (only for Career Mode). The detail becomes
more frightening once you realize that there are farm teams to bring the
young talent up on. The Home Run derby is pretty standard, but the
practice modes are extremely critical in High
Heat. The hitting and pitching modes definitely require time to get
good at, and more importantly you can choose any hitter or pitcher in
the majors to practice against (it’s sort of a sneaky way to develop
some in-game tactics against opponents). It took most people (in my
office) an average of 30 minutes to be able to pitch and hit effectively
enough to play an actual game (at the end of those 30 minutes we were
able to beat our opponents mercilessly into submission).
Now to the graphics, the game looks like something designed 3-5 years ago. The textures are really grainy even at the highest resolutions and 3D acceleration. (Raul Mondesi’s big guns looked like some dude was wearing beef-jerky prosthetic arms – and even worse some of the rendered faces look like they can be peeled off when the batters step into the boxes.) The stadiums look terrible, all the crowds look like colored blobs that don’t move an inch during the course of the game (it’s
un-realistic when Olympic Stadium is sold out when the
Milwaukee Brewers come to town… you couldn’t even fill the
player’s benches for that game). Most annoying has to be the in-game
text, which borders on cruel – for a game so based on statistics and
averages it would be nice to be able to read what the game is trying to
tell me. For how bad the graphics look, the designers made some really
cool character designs – all of the players move and react similar to
reality, i.e. pitchers will jostle and pick up the rosin bag while
waiting for a batter to settle, 1st baseman will change their
glove positions and stance while fishing a ball out of the dirt, and
batter’s swings can look completely different depending on whether
they are pulling the ball or not… tres cool. The in-game sound is much
better; at least all of the action is authentically matched. From the
sounds of the stadium to the crack of a wooden bat – they’re great.
The announcing could have benefited from tweaking though. (Actual pieces
of dialogue during an at-bat half inning with the controller un-plugged:
“You’ve just got to believe that the last hack he took was him
waiting on a fastball”, “He was sure ahead of that last pitch”,
“If he wasn’t so aggressive at the plate, he’d probably draw more
The game-play itself is rather quick, a gamer could complete a 9 inning game in a half-hour or so, which is perfect for a short break from reality. Because the action is so quick, this is one title that really benefits from owning a “console-style” controller. This leads to my last complaint – no ability to remap the buttons for the keyboard or controllers, which is a real problem because you can’t figure out which buttons do what. The detail in the managerial controls are good – you can easily send out pinch hitters or change position players by clicking and dragging players with the mouse. But most important is the fact that the game will not allow you to do anything really stupid like let a 2nd baseman pitch or move a player to an unrelated position.
in all, you end up with a game that is fun to play but is riddled with
quirks and some problems. If you can overlook these problems, High Heat
Baseball 2002 is a good game.
was always our plan to trail at the half thus deepening Earth's eventual
humiliation. Also, what games were the refs watching!?"
- Bubblegum Tate (Futurama)
(June 8, 2002)
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