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World Series Baseball

Review By:  Nick Arvites

Developer:   Visual Concepts
Publisher:   Sega
# of Players:   1-2
Genre:   Sports
ESRB:   Everyone
Online:   No
Accessories:   Memory Unit
Date Posted:  

7-29-02

For some reason, baseball has been the neglected sport game of the current generation of video game systems. Almost every other sport out there has had a better game than any baseball game put out since the launch of the PS2. Football, hockey, basketball and even soccer games have all showcased the potential and power of the current systems. However, baseball games have been downright pathetic. Many looked like they were thrown together in a month and featured high-resolution PSOne graphics. Sega thankfully looks set to break this trend with World Series Baseball on Xbox. They finally offer gamers a baseball game on a current system with a decent control scheme and good graphics but fail to fully deliver a perfect game.

World Series Baseball looks good and bad at the same time. While players look ok, there is a glaring flaw with player models. There are no varying body shapes. NY Mets 1st baseman Mo Vaughn looks exactly like Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Randy Johnson. There is very little difference in muscular builds on the player models. Sammy Sosa’s arms look the same as generic minor league pitcher number 5. Generally speaking, the player models look good for what they are. Stadiums look good physically but lack any sort of realism or interaction. If you want to see flashing scoreboards or stadium features (like Shea’s apple), look elsewhere. However, the stadiums do look close to their real-life counterparts.

The gameplay has its ups and downs. It is basically a standard baseball game with a simple control scheme so most people can learn to play in about five minutes. However, there are many things that make it extremely frustrating to play after a while. The first thing is the throwing animations. Many other sites have praised the throwing animations in this game. Yes, they do look good, but they are extremely choppy. For example, an outfielder catching a pop fly and attempting to throw the ball to third would look like he caught it, waited, and then threw. If you want a faster throw off, you basically have to run a few steps. A shortstop-second baseman-first baseman double play is damn near impossible to pull unless a slow lummox hit the ball because there is no fluid jump-turn-throw animation for the second baseman. Its an extremely choppy throw and it will cause you to remain in many an inning. Base running can also be bad. First off, there is no manual lead button, so everyone takes the same standard lead. No suicide leads and no pickoffs that work. Stealing second base is extremely easy, but stealing third is practically impossible. There are not enough wild pitches in the game. To elaborate, I was well into my season and had played about 40 full games. In 40 games, I have had two wild pitches all together (counting my team and the computer teams). Also, there are not enough home runs in the game. Yes, you read right. If you simulate games in a season, players will crack them at a realistic pace. However, if you actually play the games, you rarely hit them.

All of the complaints above (with the exception of the choppy throwing animations) cannot top the following: World Series Baseball does NOT have a jump button. While initially this may not mean much, watching a hit barely go over the wall when you know your outfielder could have jumped and robbed it is extremely annoying.

The ironic thing about the flaws present in this game: they were all perfectly done in Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball on the Super Nintendo. In Griffey, you could climb walls, manually lead, turn double plays, have fluid throwing animations, have wild pitches and have players with different body shapes. Apparently baseball games have been de-evolving since 1996.

The control scheme is set up so the A B X Y buttons throw to bases, one of the triggers dives, the other trigger switches players and the analog stick moves. With this in mind, you basically NEED the S-controller to play this game effectively. The angle of the buttons on the original controller makes it harder to control. It is much easier with the S-controller.

The announcing in this game is too quiet. They do not chatter enough at all and you rarely hear the second member of the two-member team. While this does insure that they do not repeat phrases over and over, it makes the game seem too quiet. The actual ballpark sound is great. You hear the crowd taunting and cheering players. However, you should not only hear this and you should hear the announcers a lot more.

The franchise mode has a few flaws, but is done well overall. You have a minor league talent pool and you hire coaches to develop. My major screaming complaint is you cannot release players and you cannot fire coaches. You can do almost everything else (including multiple team trades), but you CANNOT RELEASE PLAYERS. You cannot cut the career minor leaguer and you cannot free up salary. Speaking of salary, this game does not have real figures. Instead they use a point system that is extremely confusing at first. Why can’t they use a salary system? Sure, its better than EA’s NHL system (which was made up of smiley faces and frowning faces) but they could have used real figures.

Highs:

  • Best baseball game available

Lows:

  • No jump button
  • Choppy throwing
  • No difference in player body-shapes
  • No stadium interaction
  • Other minor annoyances

Final Verdict: 

Yes, this game does have flaws. Is it unplayable? No. World Series Baseball is quite fun. Sadly, this game feels like a Beta test. There are many things that should not be present that made it to the final version. It is inexcusable to have choppy throwing animations and no jump button in the final version. While Sega is making a step in the right direction for baseball games, they still have a while to go before they can be on the same level as any other sport game.

Overall Score: 7.1

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