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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Sports

 

Publisher

Acclaim

 

Developer

Acclaim

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q1 2004

 

 

- Best…Commentating…Ever!
- Fluid animations
- Remarkable graphics and detail on both players and stadiums
- A Franchise mode that goes deeper than most grass roots

 

 

- Annoying AI problems and decisions
- Not made for casual baseball gamers
- Some difficulty in navigating through the menus and franchise options

 

 

Review: MVP Baseball 2004 (XB)

Review: MVP Baseball 2003 (XB)

Review: Inside Pitch 2003 (XB)

Review: All-Star Baseball 2004 (XB)

 

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All-Star Baseball 2005

Score: 8.1 / 10

 

all-star baseball 2005 xbox review          all-star baseball 2005 xbox review

 

The baseball season is now in full force and the surprises are already popping up. The Detroit Tigers have won more than a few games, the Yankees have struggled, and Barry Bonds broke Willie Mays’ home run record on an amazing pace. The gaming world is no different as All-Star Baseball attempts to be a surprise and improve their long-running series.

Having never played an All-Star Baseball (ASB) game I came into their newest addition optimistically. I have heard about the great statistic tracking and flawless gameplay that composed the package.

The first thing you’ll notice is that there is a lot to do and experience in ASB 05. Be warned that ASB is not for casual baseball fans. The amount of depth and nit-

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picking involved will please only those who know a lot about baseball. For those who are still a bit shaky, there is a crash course of some of the rules such as the Rule 5 Draft and information on terms like, “Double Switch.” That being said the game delivers a lot of history. One of the new features is the “This Week In Baseball Challenge”. Where you have the ability to reenact some of the

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best, and worst, moments of 2003. Remember Steve Bartman? Well, if you don’t, I’m sure the Cubs fans remember the ball he grabbed before Moises Alou could make the foul ball catch, which can be played in ASB.

As a snapshot ASB looks standard without all of the bells and whistles of MVP Baseball. In motion, ASB has the smoothest animations and the best baseball atmosphere I have ever experienced in a baseball videogame. From the “K” signs in the outfield to the pitchers rolling around on the ground after giving up a homerun, ASB truly delivers a baseball experience. The use of “pre-loaded” throws, where you select which base to throw to before the ball reaches the player, spawns some remarkable animations. Not only do the player animations look great but so do the stadiums. With the exception of a few, they all resemble the real-life structures including the all-new Padres and Phillies stadiums. The faces of the marquee players look just as outstanding although not all players get the same level of polish.

Part of the gameplay that is revamped is an all-new camera known as the FielderCam. The FielderCam pits the camera in a 3rd person view of a selected fielder. In short, you see the ball the way you would standing on the filed. The effect is very strong and makes every ground ball important but there are some problems that downplay the camera. First of all the ball can be very difficult to track at times. On fly balls, the ball is highlighted with a red glow and can be easy to track, but on straight liners the ball disappears into the grass and can get by your infielders rather easily. The FielderCam is one of those “you either like it or you don’t” features and, in all honestly, I like it. The perspective makes me feel as if I’m part of the action rather than watching from the bleachers. For those of you who cringe at the feature you can always choose to go back to the regular camera angle.

 

all-star baseball 2005 xbox review         all-star baseball 2005 xbox review


Although the gameplay is supported by outstanding animations there are some technical problems that cannot be left unmentioned. In some instances I scored inside the park homeruns because the AI never chased down the ball. They all stood in their natural stances watching the ball sit there. This is very annoying and has happened more than once. Another problem is with the fielders’ “vacuum” gloves. The ball will go past them but rocket back into their gloves, the way a vacuum gathers dirt. At regular speeds this isn’t noticed as much as when watching a slow-mo replay.

The pitching and batting of ASB 05 is pretty standard. For pitching there aren’t any bars to fill, as in MVP and ESPN baseball, rather a couple button presses. For batting, you can choose 2D cursor batting, 3D cursor batting, timing or zone. Each mode will give you different results. Zone batting will result in many homeruns and high-scoring games while the 3D cursor is more difficult to bat with (but generates some realistic scores). The other two modes lie in the middle and should be considered by new baseball gamers.

The batting interface can also be tweaked to make the game faster or slower. Making it faster will speed-up the animations shortening the time spent between pitches; while playing the game slower will make the game more realistic.

The final aspect of ASB is the sound, which is the finest of all its features. The commentating is the best I have heard in any sports videogame, counting all of the other games including Madden, NBA Live, and others. The duo in ASB delivers great comments and conversations resembling a live telecast. Aside from talking about the action on the field the two discuss recent happenings in baseball such as the long debated salary cap issues and steroids use. And if you leave the menu paused long enough, you’ll hear some “interesting” comments. Part of why the atmosphere of ASB is so strong is because of the ambient sounds during the game. The crowd reacts with the play on the field and the hecklers can be heard all across the field. You’ll hear not only one person yelling but three or four people simultaneously making the experience very real. The music of ASB is also well done with some mainstream music and authentic baseball tunes heard every now and then. With the support of Custom Soundtracks, you can play the game listening to your own tunes and even give your players authentic intro music.

All-Star Baseball 2005 is a great game with an accurate stat system, fluid animations, and plenty of depth to last a very long time. Although ASB doesn’t have the glamour and beauty MVP Baseball 2004 may have, the real beauty lies inside. If you consider yourself a die-hard fan of baseball than ASB 05 should already be in your library. If not, than MVP might be a better choice. The amount of work involved in maintaining a steady franchise will jolt some of the brightest of minds. If I had to select one game with the most potential of becoming the best baseball videogame, it would be ASB.

- Eric Lahiji
(April 29, 2004)

 

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