All-Star Baseball 2000
Last year. Acclaim's All-Star Baseball '99 took top honors as EGM's favorite N64 baseball game. While it did have a few problems, overall it was still the best game in town, especially for sim fans. This year they've got added competition from the likes of EA and Konami, but from what we've seen of All-Star 2000, we think it's safe to say that Acclaim's got an excellent chance of staying on top.
Graphically. All-Star is even more beautiful than it was last year. The hf-res graphics are as astounding as ever (no Expansion Pak necessary!), and the animation has been improved in almost every area. The detail that was put into each ballpark is truly amazing. From the rooftops behind Wrigley to the monuments in Yankee Stadium's Monument Park, everything is replicated almost perfectly. The camera work has been improved, too.
All of this is great, but what's more important is gameplay. Believe it or not, this is where they REALLY went nuts with the details. ASB 2000 is a sim fan's dream--it's packed with dozens of features, many of which are either enhanced from last year or entirely new. The most important enhancements lie in the batter/pitcher interface--check out the sidebar for details. The Al has been tweaked in several areas (smarter CPU players, better CPU draft management, more realistic stats over the course of a season, etc.), and the many GM options have been improved as well. Not only are there more stats, but they're more user-friendly and more accessible too (especially during a game). The Create-A-Player Mode is not only more detailed, but it allows you to create up to 25 players now (as opposed to 10 last year).
What else is new? There's honestly too much to list. Some of the more noteworthy stuff includes: an Instant Replay feature, controlled sliding (to try to avoid tags), pitch speed control, multiple-player trades, daily HR tracking during a season, weather effects (rain/snow), hot and cold streaks, and more. Heck, you car even call for a double switch! The game speed has been increased big-time, too--you can bypass almost any unnecessary cinematic or delay to cut down on game time. A very nice feature, indeed.
As you can tell, we're pretty excited about All-Star Baseball 2000. Hopefully Acclaim and Iguana will put this much effort into their other sports titles (like QB Club), because it's obviously paying off. We can't wait to see what they do with the Dreamcast...
Behind the Screens
Bey Bickerton, Assistant Creative Director at Iguana had this to say about the company's innovative new 3D Batting system: "3D Batting evolved from the simple idea of giving the players more control over where they wanted to hit the ball. When looking at past icon batting systems, they were all relatively the same and It was hard enough to make contact with the ball, let alone hit it to a desired part of the field. We then reviewed our own system and decided that actually tilting or turning the batting icon would accomplish what we wanted to do while keeping the relatively same, consistent interface. It was a simple matter of finding the right graphical representation and adjusting the hit angles available when the user positions the icon in 3D space. What I think resulted is a very Intuitive interface that gives the user unprecedented control when at the plate/*
With 3D Batting (top), players can actually target their swings more accurately than ever before. Got a runner on third with one out? No problem! Aim high and deep, so he can tag his way home! Also new: Pitch type AND location guessing (bottom). Sweet!
- MANUFACTURER - Iguana
- THEME - Sport
- NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1-4
Download All-Star Baseball 2000
Whether anyone outside the United States bothers to play the game or not, All-Star Baseball 2000 is an excellent example of what a professional quality sports sim should look like. Impeccably designed with superior execution, Iguana and Acclaim Sports have knocked up a game with almost limitless potential and black hole-like depth. As in last year's All-Star Baseball '99 (89% in 64 Magazine 16), players have the choice of selecting their favourite Major League team and putting them through their paces within a one-off exhibition match or a full-blown season. There's also the Home Run Derby, where players aim to score the more home runs than their opponents within a set amount of rounds.
The version of All-Star Baseball 2000 that 64 Magazine looked at here appeared to be a completed version, and had all the features and sound effects (including sports commentary from two big-name US hosts). One of the most popular elements from All-Star Baseball '99 has returned in the latest version as well, the Create-A-Player mode. It is here that, like some sort of deranged genetic scientist, you can create your own baseball team from scratch. Step forth mutants from the pits of Hell!
A neat little addition to this year's version of All-Star Baseball is the Instant Replay feature. Accessed from the main menu at any time, this feature uses a video editing-like interface which allows you to skip back and forth between the recent play. You can zoom-in, pan out, rotate around the field, pause... you get the picture.
64 Magazine will be taking its bats to a full review of All-Star Baseball 2000 in a forthcoming issue.
Acclaim Sports is back for year number two of its N64-only version of All-Star Baseball. Last year's All-Star Baseball '99 led the pack in terms of graphics, but there were some well-documented glitches that kept it from reaching the level of greatness. Let's take a look back at a direct quote from last year's review. "I think that with some minor adjustments next year, this will move to the level of greatness." Well, here we are, next year. Did they take my advice and make these minor adjustments? Read on and you shall see.
A quick highlight of the features being touted by this year's version include second-generation "Hi-Rez" graphics, new player models, 400 new player animations and over 100 player batting stances. Throw in a new 3D batting control system and what you have is one flexible baseball game. If you really liked last year's version, you will not be disappointed by this year's.
When I sit down and play a game, I try to keep a pen and a pad of paper next to me and make notes of things that jump out in my mind (both good and bad). While I was playing this game, I kept noticing little things that just did not seem quite right. If you were to look over my notes, you would think that I hated the game. The thing is, it was quite the contrary. I actually enjoyed this game more than any other baseball game I have ever played. I think I just nitpicked this game because I was looking for perfection. I know that there is no such thing as perfection, but I will drop a few suggestions of what I found to be missing or strange, and hopefully next year the game will be a bit more polished.
Let's start out with the good and then move into the nitpicking. I guess the first good point I can make about this game is that it is just a hell of a lot of fun to play, pure and simple. I sat down and played and played and played. I was playing through a season and I kept getting that "just one more game" mentality going, and we all know that is the number one sign of a fun game. I have played a lot of baseball games in my life (almost every one made for PSX and N64) and I can say with no hesitation that this is my favorite. That alone should be enough of an endorsement for you to go out and pick this game up.
I guess if you are reading this paragraph, that must mean that my endorsement was not good enough and you want more information before running out and buying it. Fair enough (it is your $60 after all). So what else was good about this game, you ask? Well, this game basically uses the same control scheme as last year's, so I found the game easy to pick up and start playing. Does that mean you have to be familiar with last year's game? Not at all. One of the things that I said about last year's game was that the fielding and pitching were a breeze. Since they did not change much, it is still a breeze. It will take you about two innings before you are painting the corners with fastballs or making spectacular catches in the outfield. The point is, this game is easy to play.
One of my complaints last year was that I found hitting to be a bit on the difficult side. You could either select a cursor mode or just a regular batting mode. I had a really difficult time hitting in the cursor mode. I don't know if they changed it or if a light bulb just came on in my head, but I can now hit great with the batting cursor. I think the batting cursor keeps things very interesting because it is much more challenging to hit. The great thing about the game is that there are a few settings that can help you customize your hitting experience. As you get more comfortable with the hitting, you can turn the pitch location icon off and the game gets really challenging. You can also try to guess the location of the pitch. If you are successful, you are rewarded with a larger hitting box. If you guess wrong, the box shrinks and hitting the ball can get pretty darn tough.
One thing I did not mention about the hitting was the new 3D batting cursor. Since this is such a cool feature, I feel that it warrants its own paragraph. Acclaim Sports has hit the ball right on the sweet spot with this new batting cursor. Let me explain what it is and how it is used. First off, I just want to say that one of my biggest complaints with baseball games in the past was the lack of control over where the ball would go off the bat. A lot of games just seemed random. In real baseball, placement hitting is a huge part of the game and this just seems to get overlooked in baseball games for console systems. For example, if you have a runner on second and a right-hand hitter up, I want to try to hit behind the runner to move him to third. In real life baseball, swinging a little later will result in taking the ball to the opposite field. A lot of games completely miss this point, which is a vital part of baseball in my eyes. Well, not only did they get this correct, they took it one step further. You can now rotate your batting cursor up or down and left or right or any combination. This means that if you have a runner on third and you need a sacrifice fly, you can rotate the cursor so the batter will swing under the ball, causing a fly. It is a very easy system to use and one of the most innovative features added to a baseball game in a long time.
Another thing they did that was a major improvement was to speed up the games. Last year it seemed to take forever to play nine innings. You can almost play two games in the amount of time that it would take to play one last year. This is nice because even I found last year's game to drag on at times, and I know that I am not the only person that felt this way.
Okay, time for the nitpicking. Let me preface this by saying that these things did not really bother me as much as I just thought it showed a little bit of lack of polish. There was really only one thing that bothered me enough to lower the score minimally and that was the base running and fielding AI. Once again I don't know what happened, but there were quite a few base-running blunders. For example, if the computer had a runner at third with one out and hit a routine fly out to center field, his runner would go all the way to home plate, wait for the ball to be caught and then retreat back to third. I would almost always nail him off the base, not to mention the fact that he should have been standing at the base waiting to tag up. This was just one of the many instances that did not follow good baseball logic. I know that it is a video game and that it will never have the intelligence of a real person, but it still needs to be mentioned.
As for the nitpicking, there were little things like the annoying announcers (only about 15 phrases repeated over and over), players wearing sunglasses inside a dome stadium, players facing the wrong direction when they made catches, and the computer players who were too easy to strike out if you just pitched to their weak spots on the pitching chart. As I said, these things were not too terrible, but just some things that stuck out to me while I was playing.
Once again, Acclaim has upped the bar in the graphics department. While the overall graphics are not a huge leap above last year's game, they are still better than anything else around. They did a great job of recreating batter stances and swings, stadiums and umpires. One of the coolest things added this year was that if a player slides and comes up short of the bag, you will see him scramble on hands and knees trying to reach the base. He may even try to slide around the tag. They also added some other great player animations like catching a fly ball off the shoe tops, making basket catches and showing some serious emotion when striking out. I am still waiting for the first baseball game that lets you charge the mound, though.
If you are a baseball fan, I suggest you check this game out. If you have All-Star Baseball '99, there have been some modifications but not any wholesale changes, so you will have to weigh this in your decision. I think this is the best baseball game around, but if they had polished it up just a little more it could have been baseball heaven. This game is almost as fun to sit back and watch as it is to play. Acclaim is getting a lot of mileage out of this game engine, so I am curious to see what they have up their sleeves for next year.
SPORTING THE MOST intense pitcher/batter confrontations in baseball gaming today, All-Star Baseball 2000 also boasts the awesome look of a winner and Ruthian game-play to match. If you're a sports fan, you won't want to miss the maniacal fun of All-Star Baseball 2000.
Pride of the Yankees
All-Star Baseball's digitized dugouts are jam-packed with all the features a hardball fanatic could want, including Exhibition, Season, Playoffs, and Home Run Derby modes, as well as an excellent Fantasy Draft Diamond diehards will also have the power of a major-league general manager to make trades, acquire minor leaguers, and sign free-agents.
What really knocks All-Star's gameplay out of the park though, are its thrilling pitcher/batter confrontations. A typical at-bat consists of the pitcher choosing his pitch, the batter guessing the pitch and its location, the pitcher aiming the pitch, and the batter selecting his type of swing... and that's before the ball's even thrown! Every pitch is critical in All-Star as each game is realistically low-scoring in Simulation mode--one run can mean the difference between a win and a loss.
Big Mac Attack
All-Star's batting control features a new easy-to-use rotatable 3D cursor that enables you to aim your swing. Now, if you want to hit a grounder to the right side of the infield, simply rotate the cursor down and to the right to slap the ball past the second base-man (if you've got the swingin' skillz, that is).
In the field, All-Star offers smooth controls: Players can quickly turn double plays and gun down base runners from their knees. The only flaw is that when the ball's hit, it's sometimes difficult to tell what fielder you're controlling--and that can lead to errors.
Graphically, All-Star's a Cooperstown stud. The level of player detail, from Jose Canseco's gold chain to Brady Anderson's sideburns, is amazing, while the number of animations is simply staggering. Soundwise, the game scores with snappy two-man commentary and all the screams of a fan-crazed ballpark. The commentary gets repetitive, but its still superior to the N64 version of Triple Play.
All-Star Baseball's double-play combo of electrifying gameplay and dynamite graphics make it the hardball game to beat this season so far. Griffey's still in development, but sports gamers would be fools to strike out on the opportunity to play Acclaim s newest grand-slam title.
- When hitting, tap before the pitch to swing for power. Your batting cursor will be smaHer-but If you connect, you'll connect big time!
- Bunt the ball down the third-base line for a better chance at beating out the throw to first.
- When in a rundown, simultaneously tap Z and R to stop In mid-stride. Then, depending on what the defense does, tap Z to advance to the next base, or tap R to return to the previous base.
- Change speeds and pitch placement to confuse the batter.
- Fool batten by throwing breaking balls that start outside the zone and curve In for a strike.
- To rob a home run, tap white running next to the wall to Jump up and snag the ball.
All-Stars diamond shines with the sweetest player animations of any sports game to date. Batters get beaned in the head and stagger down the base line, fielders make slick sidearm throws, and sluggers celebrate dingers by jumping in the air as they round the bases.
From the crack of the bat to the pop of a fastball smacking the catcher's glove, All-Star's audio creates the perfect ballpark atmosphere. The announcers are repetitive, but they still sound better than Triple Play's commentators.
The new batting cursor lets you aim your swings, while the fielding and baserunning controls are simple to execute. Occasionally, though, errors occur because you don't know which fielder you're controlling.
All-Star's sensational gameplay and MVP graphics make it this season's World Series winner. Griffey still isn't finished yet, but it would have to play almost flawlessly to beat All-Star's near-perfect game.
Acclaim's swinging for the fences with All-Star Baseball 2000, the fierce-slugging sequel to the N64's most fun hardball game of 1998.
Last season, All-Star Baseball '99 was the overwhelming winner of the N64 diamond wars, and this year, Acclaim's pounding its cleats with even more features and gameplay improvements. The most awesome innovation is All-Star's new 3D batting cursor. You can now aim your swing by rotating the cursor in any direction, including toward and away from the pitch. This enables batters who correctly time their swings to hit the ball to the opposite field with more accuracy, or to pop it up on purpose, or even to poke it through an open spot in the infield.
Other gameplay additions include a pitch-location box for batters, which enables you to hit the ball with extra pop if you guess the correct spot of the throw; a detailed pitch history for every batter in the game; and more speed control for pitchers. There's also an evasive-sliding feature, which enables base runners to slide on either side of the bag to avoid the tag. You can even run over the catcher to score the winning run!
Graphically, All-Star Baseball 2000 looks to smash its competition out of the park with crisper-looking fields, improved animations, and the most detailed athletes of any sports game to date. Players will have realistic head and body sizes (you'll be able to distinguish Mark McGwire from Omar Vizquel), and some will wear sunglasses during day games while others will even have their socks pulled up high tor added flair, like Delino DeShields. The game also features weather effects like snow and rain, instant replays, and more action cameras to compete with the cool style of Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball.
New animations include authentic home-run swings from feared hitters like Sosa and Belle, as well as pitchers who celebrate sizzling strikeouts by walking off the mound pumping their fists. If the gameplay comes together as promised, look for All-Star Baseball 2000 to exceed last year's World Series performance.