Blue Shift/Visual Concepts

World Series Baseball

The series that started on the Sega Genesis finally makes its way to the Xbox. Simply titled World Series Baseball, Sega falls a little short on what could have been a groundbreaking title. While having plenty of features, franchise mode, Hall of Fame players, and one amazing batter/pitcher interface, this game just seems to miss the mark.


The graphics, while good, aren't what we should be seeing from such a powerful system like the Xbox. Instead of creating a new game engine, all Sega did was take World Series Baseball 2K2 from the Dreamcast and retool the graphics engine slightly. Don't get me wrong, these graphics fare really well against the crop of other baseball games currently available. In fact, the only other baseball game with superior graphics is Sega's own Home Run King for the Nintendo GameCube. And that game is just a port of World Series Baseball 2K1 for the Dreamcast. I don't know why Sega just rehashes these older games, whether it be for a lack of time, a lack of resources, or a combination of both. Simply put, the graphics, while good just don't compare to other games available for the Xbox like Halo or Dead or Alive 3.


I'm quite shocked by this one; sound is usually one of Sega Sports' strong points. Especially the commentary, in games like NFL2K and NBA2K the announcers never run out of new phrases and conversations to speak of. Why Sega couldn't do the same with World Series Baseball is beyond me. Besides the commentary, the overall sound of the game is pretty good. It doesn't really jump out at you as being really good, but on the other hand it doesn't feel like anything is missing. The sound, while good on its own, just can't compare to Sega's other sports offerings.


Gameplay has always been one of Sega's strong points and World Series Baseball is no exception. As I stated previously, the batter/pitcher interface is the best I've seen in any baseball game to date, period. Pitching is easy as long as you think like a major league pitcher. If your pitching with Greg Maddux, don't try to burn fastballs by hitters or else those fastballs will end up in the stands. What you have to do is change locations and change speeds against the opposition to be successful. On the other hand, if you are pitching with someone like Randy Johnson, then by all means blow the heat right by the hitters. And when you're ahead in the count, then get them to chase the slider in the dirt.

While batting, you need to predict what the pitcher will be throwing. I usually approach each at-bat one of two ways. Early in the count I'll focus in my power zone, be it low and inside or belt-high and away. As soon as I get a pitch in my zone, whether it is a fastball or a curve, I'm swinging. Another approach I'll take is to pick my pitch. Instead of looking for a ball in a certain zone, I'll wait for my pitch. I usually wait for the pitcher to hang a curveball. But no matter what pitch you choose, once you see it, you're swinging. And for both styles, once the count is in the pitcher's favor you have to learn how to protect the plate. Anything that looks like a strike you have to be swinging at. If the pitch is inside, try to pull it into the gap. Or if the pitch is outside, go with it and knock it down the line. Just be careful not to chase the breaking ball in the dirt or the high heat. Both pitches may look good at first, but if you swing you can be sure that the ball will end up in the catcher's mit.


Despite some of the games shortcomings, you will be playing World Series Baseball an awful lot. I find the franchise mode to be surprisingly deep. Your coaches will let you know how your minor league players are doing and if they think the players have what it takes to make it to the big leagues. Another cool feature in franchise mode is where your coaches will suggest trades for you to make. You could go with their advice, modify the trades to your liking, or not listen to them at all. After all, what do they know? Unfortunately, if you don't own this game by now, it is unlikely that you'll still be playing shortly after the World Series is over.


If you are looking for a solid baseball game and can give World Series Baseball a chance, then this is the game for you. Unfortunately, if you're expecting this game to wow you like Sega has done to us with their great baseball games before on the Genesis and Saturn, you setting yourself up for a major letdown. As for the other baseball games out there, this one is the pick of the litter. Triple Play Baseball hasn't been good in about five years. High Heat Baseball is pretty good, but the graphics just look like a good PS One title. All Star Baseball is a decent offering, but falls short in the gameplay department. If you feel like taking baseball too the extreme, then maybe MLB Slugfest is the game for you. Either way, I'll be playing World Series Baseball this season and you should be too.

Bottom Line:

If by some chance you have never played any of Sega's other outstanding sports titles, then you will find no fault with World Series Baseball. Unfortunately, based on Sega's other offerings, World Series Baseball leaves you thinking about how great a game this could have been. Even though I feel that Sega dropped the ball with this title, it does deserve a decent rating considering it is the best baseball game available for any system.

-Rob Matos