Front Page Sports Baseball Pro '96
The Seattle Mariners' 1995 American League Cy Young Award winner, Randy Johnson, stars in Baseball Pro '96. You can play the A.I. or another player. The game's Camera Angle Management System enables you to play from any viewing angle in the park. Additionally, all the Major League players are in the dugouts of all 28 big-league ballparks. Pro '96 tracks 2000 statistical categories, game by game. In fact, you can enjoy a lifelong career In the Bigs with Pro's Multi-Season Career Play system, which simulates games into infinity.
Download Front Page Sports Baseball Pro '96
Okay, so you don't want to have your speaker turned up too loud when you slide this disk in -- the "LET'S PLAY BALL!" intro sound will wake you up quickly, or give you away if you happen to be at work. Though you might get that initial heart flutter, though, this is far from an action game. Rather, this baseball game/sim is notable for its incredible realism. Just as important, its a fairly smooth-running game despite that same memory and speed-hogging 3D realism.
You know how in real baseball, when the catcher turns around and chases a pop foul he can't possibly get, and he overextends himself, slips and falls down? It's there. You know how Omar Vizquel does that (usually) unnecessary leaping thing he does, where he jumps sideways and up and spins around about 800 times for the bloop liner? It's there. Exuberant umpires, an AI that knows whether or not it has a chance to get the guy at first, how the infielders roll the ball to the mound after the last out of an inning -- they're all there. The only thing about this game that isn't realistic is the fact that the vendors still sell beer in the 9th.
This is not the easiest game to play. What I'd really like to have for this, I think, is a game pad. Though I haven't yet advanced to the point where I'm ready to take over the fielding from the computer, this game is no less fun. Like me, you may have laughed when other games offered you the chance to play "manager" and just watch your players go at it. This time, your lack of coordination isn't such a big deal; because of the amazing detail, this is a game where I'm perfectly content to just watch.
About the only beef I have with this game (despite the fact that it's for the '96 season -- which isn't Sierra's fault because they just recently heard of the 'zilla) is how difficult it is to hit the dang ball. Here again, I resorted to just selecting the type of swing and letting the computer do the rest. I tried having the computer pitch to center, but could never quite get the timing down. Again, this is really no less fun. Just pick the power swing and watch the Kid let go with that left hand when he really gets fooled on a changeup. Realism.
None -- I'd hate to see this kind of graphically-intense sim over 28.8. It would be very ugly.
Graphics? You want graphics? How about this ... This is a way way way close-up of Seattle's Russ Davis as he approaches a hard-hit ground ball. Note that in the first frame the ump is about to make an energetic "fair" call. Frame two: Davis backhands the ball and begins to straighten up as the ump is finishing his call. Frame three: Davis plants and lets it fly. Though you can't see this kind of detail while the play is in progress, you can see close-ups of any action that occurs (either live or replay) via the CAMS (Camera Angle Management System).
The sounds are great, and not at all annoying. In fact, they add another level of realism to the game, throwing in (presumably drunk) hecklers -- "Kiss my tuckus!" -- and a (presumably) ethnically-diverse assortment of vendors. Of course, they are fully adjustable, so you can cut out the loudmouth behind you, or if you're using a CPU-speed-deficient machine you can just turn off the sound/distance calculation, which adds even more realism by making deep outfield catches sound faint and pops of the catcher's mitt loud.
The documentation is all contained on-disk in a 1.4MB WinHelp file. It's fairly comprehensive and well-organized. The only things it's missing are more tips and demos to show uncoordinated dorks like me how to hit and field the ball.
There are two patches on the Sierra website: One "fixes statistical problems, improves the performance of the AI, performs cosmetic fixes for stadiums as well as adding the Legends and Stadium teams for Baseball Pro '96, and [has] numerous other improvements." The other is an updated Help file.
Windows: 486-DX/66, Windows 3.1, 8 MB RAM, SVGA, 2X CD-ROM drive
Recommended: Pentium 90, Win 95, 16 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM drive, 17" monitor
This is everyone's baseball game: It's challenging enough to keep your quick and talented fingers occupied for a long season. If you're the passive type, you'll enjoy sitting there, playing GM and just watching the masterpiece of a team you put together, relishing the grace of the players and the subtleties the game designers and programmers put in here to show they're either really nerdy and did tons of homework before they put this game on the street, or they just really know baseball.