Acclaim
Acclaim
Sports
1-4
02.27.03

All-Star Baseball 2004


All-Star Baseball 2004 has a wonderful introduction, giving longtime baseball fans a real sense of "baseball." The music and the old baseball films really give you the feeling of a ballpark. The opening gets you all hyped up to play the game, but does the game play like a great baseball game? Not as I would have expected it to.

Gameplay

The main menu is set up with some nice options to choose from. Quick play is if you just want to play a quick exhibition. MLB Play is the main franchise mode. The Bonus Play mode has a lot to offer including scenario, trivia, batting practice, and homerun derby. The Trivia can be very entertaining, and it's pleasing to see they took the time to add that feature in. You can also go on Xbox Live to download updated player rosters.

In the special features menu, the stadium tours section is very superior to say the least. They take you to any stadium you want to in its 3D rendered form, and give you facts and history about it. They even give you a great idea what select future stadiums will look like! This is one of the best features that I ever found in a baseball game.

Fielding the ball is the same as you would expect from any baseball game. Acclaim let us know that the fielding has been improved, but having never played much of any ASB editions, I can't really notice anything new. Pitching is accomplished by first selecting the type of pitch (with X, Y, A, or B), and then followed by a second menu. In this second menu you it allows you to pitch, pitch out, throw a bean ball, or press the corresponding button to pick off a base runner. All, which is very effectively set up.

There is more to pitching then just simply tapping buttons. By using the d-pad, you can actually "feel" where the pitch is being thrown. After you move the cursor to where you want to pitch the ball, it disappears, but you still have the option to freely move it, only you can't see it. When you try to position it blindly like this, the controller will vibrate if you take it too far outside the white strike zone box. One thing I noticed is that the strike zone doesn't really seem to vary from batter to batter.

The main gameplay is simple, but has a very hard batting interface. There is virtually about half a second for you to match up the icon to the ball, and swing. The first game I played I got blown out, 14-1. I even changed the game speed to a slower pace, but it only helped a little. The rest of the game is playable, but the batting is so frustrating.

One of the most coolest & brilliant features is being able to save a game whenever you want to. It's good to see this in a baseball game, because in today's busy world, gamers might not have time to complete a full 9-inning game in one sitting.

The replay mode is a little bit crazy, and could use some fine-tuning. All you use is the left and right thumbsticks, with the exception of the X button to change angles. You can't rotate the camera manually. This is not that big of a deal, but is a little frustrating if you want to see a play a certain way.

The good thing about ASB 2004 is that the computer AI doesn't always play "perfect" like in other baseball games. Balls can be deflected off fielder's gloves, and many different types of errors, and passed balls will happen.

Graphics

All the player's faces are accurately done, along with the player models while up at the plate. When they walk to the plate, it looks great, but when they strike out or walk, it's hilarious because they take baby steps, and it looks totally un-natural. The stadiums are up to par, and have all the features of your favorite team's ballpark. As I mentioned before, in the stadium tours you can find out facts and information on every ballpark. The only thing that bothered me was I thought the crowd could have looked a lot better, but they still put in a good effort.

Despite the graphics being accurate, the Xbox can push more graphical power then what Acclaim is showing us in ASB 2004. One nice aspect to this game that stands out is broken bats. I don't know, but this is one of the first baseball games that I actually notice this being implemented. That, and along with the home plate umpire (or catcher) pointing to the third base umpire & yelling out, "Did he go?!" (on a check swing). "Yeah he went!"

Sound

As I said before, the sound in this game really makes you feel like you're in the game, especially if you love baseball and its history. The commentators talk serious only, and are great at giving historical facts, and player statistics. All the sounds and baseball aspects are present, and I have no complaints about it.

Bottom Line:

Modes of play such as franchise are present, and include some of the most detailed statistics that I have ever seen in a baseball game. With that said, this title is set up to be a great baseball game.

Hitting the ball is impossible. Every other aspect of this game is so wonderfully crafted that it's just so sad to see the batting interface bring this game down. I will be excited for next year's version as long as they promise to do a little batting interface tweaking.

Related Links:

Official All-Star Baseball 2004 Website

-Steve Melanson




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