Triple Play Baseball
Windows - 2001
Description of Triple Play Baseball Windows
It's your moment of glory. The Yankees have battled all season long, overcoming every obstacle along the way, and it's the final game of a whirlwind year. Everything rides on the next pitch - and your itchy fingers. Strangely, a normally boisterous crowd grows quiet, waiting in eager anticipation. Two men on, two strikes against you, bottom of the eighth - and you're one run behind. Derek Jeter stands motionless, a silent stick figure in a stadium of awestruck onlookers. Wow, this is baseball.
And then it comes - a fastball, just like you expected. Time for the powerswing that has served you so well, a full-on cut that slices through New York air like butter. The quick movement flashes on the screen and then WHAM!, wood connects with leather as the ball arches high into the air...
...and falls right into the pitchers mit, you're out. Game over. A season ending catastrophe. There's no fanfare and no parades this time. In fact, there's very little logic. After all, this is EA Sports' Triple Play 2002, the latest release in this hopelessly unrealistic arcade series that just fell yet another notch on the realism scale.
It didn't have to be this way. As reported in our preview for Triple Play 2K2, the final release of the game does feature some brand new "realism" features like individual player stats, post-games wrap-ups, and a robust player editor that lets you customize everything from Derek Jeter's aggressiveness to Roger Clemen's facial hair. This was a step in the right direction, but unfortunately it was a baby step when the series needed a long jump.
For starters, the batter's box is still the same. Pitches either go right down the middle or veer wildly out of control. Whether you connect has little to do with who's pitching or hitting, player fatigue, men on base, or any of the other factor's that would make the game seem like real baseball. What really matters is when you swing, although since the ball looks like it was borrowed from Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2K2 you might have to use a magnifying glass to spot it. The chances of hitting the ball are directly related to whether you have superman-like reflexes, a very powerful computer that renders the pitch at high resolution, a 21" monitor, and a brand new game pad.
While High Heat Baseball 2K2 prepares to wow every sports fan on the planet with highly realistic AI (read: Derek Jetter hitting fastballs with players on base), Triple Play 2K2 is still trying to impress us with finger mashing arcade mayhem and high polygon counts. None of this works. Baseball is a game of inches, meaning it's a game of statistics and measurements. The batter's box is the perfect place for subtleties, where a pitcher tries to lure you into swinging at something just barely outside the batters box, not down in the dirt. That subtlety is very difficult to program, of course - and EA Sports has been taking the easy way out for several years now by focusing on graphics. True, there's a visceral oomph to the game, but it doesn't last much past the first inning.
What could they do to improve the game? For starters, they should take a cue from features announced in the upcoming Xbox console, which will reportedly feature dynamic sound effects that actually change as the game progresses. According to a recent press release, sport game commentaries will be so detailed that you may never hear the same comment twice in one game. In Triple Play 2K2, you might hear the same comment twice with just one batter. It's amazingly repetitive, so much so that it almost ruins the whole game. And what the heck is "chin music" anyway?
Another area for improvement is the in-game interface. Sure, the screens leading up to the game are fantastic - more fun than the game at times! This reminds me of Tiger Woods PGA Tour again, where the pre-game menus are things of artistic beauty, but the in-game experience is vintage 1996. In Triple Play 2K2, you either press "S" for a regular swing, "A" for a powerswing, or "D" for a bunt. That's fine, but what about tweaking my swings for a particular pitcher? What about leaning into a pitch, or choking up to get a quick swing, or aiming low to force a ground ball? None of these options are available.
The player editor actually works like the AI sliders in NHL 2K1. You can tweak how individual players perform on the field, although the net effect is somewhat negligible. Will you still see game-ending pop-ups from batters who simply never do that? Yes. You'll also see homeruns from Chuck Knoblauch, soft in-field taps from Sammy Sosa, and Roger Clemens throwing easy fastballs. None of this really happens.
Triple Play implemented a cheat system last year, but it's totally worthless. You can earn new cheats by performing difficult feats, such as a triple play (imagine that). The problem is that the cheats seem too much like an arcade trick, something for the kids to do because they don't understand the real game. Let's see, what's more compelling: getting a few cheat points for hitting a grand slam, or having AI that actually allows Sammy Sosa to get a grand slam when he's up against a lame pitcher? The graphics have improved over the years, and EA Sports added a few nice tantrums, high five sessions, and homerun celebrations for this release. As with all EA Sports titles, you can immediately recognize most of the famous players in the game and many of their mannerisms are rendered quite well. While the close-up rendering is convincing, some camera angles when runners are on base still look a bit awkward.
Overall, the new player editor and statistics help the game seem a bit more realistic, but the unrealistic batter interface, repetitive game commentaries, weak in-game interface, negligible AI tweaks, and arcady cheat system all make Triple Play seem like it's headed for the minors. Is it the second best baseball simulator on the market? Definitely. But then, there are only two.
Review By GamesDomain
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