MLB 2003 (Playstation) MLB 2003 (Playstation)
MLB 2003 (Playstation)

"There no question that MLB 2003 plays a quality game of baseball, despite some minor flaws here and there."

MLB 2003 (Playstation) MLB 2003 (Playstation) MLB 2003 (Playstation) MLB 2003 (Playstation) MLB 2003 (Playstation) MLB 2003 (Playstation) MLB 2003 (Playstation) MLB 2003 (Playstation)

MLB 2003 (Playstation)

 

MLB 2003 (Playstation)
 

MLB 2003 (Playstation)

 
 

 

Platform: Playstation

Genre: Sports

Publisher: SCEA

Developer: 989 Sports

ESRB: E (Everyone)

Released: June 2002

 

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MLB 2003

 

mlb-2003-1.jpg (88795 bytes)         mlb-2003-2.jpg (73256 bytes)

 

With next-gen powerhouses like the PlayStation 2, Gamecube, and XBox on the market, itís easy to overlook any new PlayStation titles that see release. After all, the PlayStation will be turning seven years old this September. Luckily for PlayStation owners, 989 Studios is still supporting the little gray box, and their latest effort is MLB 2003.

 

Good baseball games are still hard to come by, no matter which console you own. Aside from 3D0ís High Heat Baseball titles, the baseball genre has definitely been going through the motions. 989ís MLB franchise has always been at or near the top of the competition. The gameplay has always been easy to get into, the presentation value has been consistently high, and extras like the Spring Training and Franchise modes have given baseball fans reason to keep coming back year after year.

 

MLB 2003 looks as good as the past couple of MLB titles. Players are animated quite well with different batting stances, dives and stabs at liners or ground balls, and whirling throws on the fly. The camera always seems to be able to follow the action, and there isnít any slowdown to speak of. The playing venues look good, tooÖ especially Pac Bell Park. Baseball looks about as good in MLB 2003 as it can on the venerable PlayStation. It would be easy to complain about the visuals when comparing them to the next-gen baseball sims that are out there, but as far as PlayStation baseball titles go, MLB 2003 looks very good.

 

Los Angeles Dodgers play-by-play man Vin Scully returns to the booth to call the action in MLB 2003, with color commentary again supplied by ESPN baseball analyst Dave Campbell. The presence of Scully and Campbell calling the game add a sense of realism to the gameóif you could only hear the game, youíd think that the game might actually be on television. Unfortunately, some bugs crop up in the play calls. For example, letís say that Barry Bonds crushes a homer in a previous at-batÖ the next time that Barry comes up, Scully will say, "Bonds flied out in his last at-bat." Huh? There are also instances when the play-by-play falls behind the action, although this happens infrequently. The sound effects are quite good, with decent samples including the crack of the bat and caroms off the wall.

 

The gameplay engine in MLB 2003 remains largely unchanged from the past couple of games in the MLB series. Hitting can be done with or without the use of a batting cursor, and there are options to be able to try and guess the incoming pitch type and location in order to increase the size of the cursor. Pitching is pretty easy, too; simply select your pitch, then aim and fire. The strike zone is a little bit too consistentóit would have been nice to incorporate random strike zones from game to game to simulate different umpires. The default strike zone actually exists a little bit outside of the specified zone which is shown on the screen. Fielding can be set to automatic or can be handled manually with few issues. The mapping of the different bases on the controller buttons makes throws instinctive and quick, rather than having to press the D-Pad in a certain direction. One minor gripe about the fielders is that they tend to flop and dive a little bit too much, but thatís a nitpick more than anything else.

 

MLB 2003 presents a full set of gameplay options to keep fans occupied. Players can play through a season, with customization options for the number of games played. League re-alignment can also be done to set up some sweet matchups and rivalries. For fans looking for deeper gameplay options, Franchise, Spring Training, and Manager modes await. Spring Training is perhaps the most interactive of these options. Spring Training involves creating a player from scratch, then playing through a slate of spring training games and having the player perform well enough to make the final team roster when the actual season starts. Franchise mode challenges players to build a successful team by winning games in order to sign quality players and eventually win the World Series. Manager mode puts the CPU in charge of gameplay and puts the player in charge of making all of the key game decisions, including lineups, free agent signings, and call-ups from the minors.

 

There no question that MLB 2003 plays a quality game of baseball, despite some minor flaws here and there. The biggest flaw is one that has plagued a lot of sports game releases this late in the PlayStationís life cycle: itís practically the same game as the last couple of yearsí versions. Sure, there are updated statistics and rosters, and there are some new bits of commentary from Scully and Campbell, but if you were to put MLB 2001 and MLB 2003 side by side, thereís practically no difference. In the grand scheme of things, especially with development resources being primarily allocated to the PlayStation 2, this problem isnít necessarily surprisingóbut it is a bit disappointing. The bottom line here is that if you still own one of the more recent MLB offerings, itís questionable as to whether you should plunk the money down on MLB 2003; however, if you donít have a baseball game for your PlayStation, or if you just picked up a nice new PSOne and are looking for some quality sports games, MLB 2003 isnít a bad place to start.

 

- Peter Skerritt, Jr.

(July 3, 2002)

 
MLB 2003 (Playstation)

 

 

MLB 2003 (Playstation)