Grand Slam Baseball
Some sports gamers may be feeling a little disillusioned with the vast number of baseball games available for the various console systems. Even with the different options available in each game, some gamers might wonder what any game could have that hasn't been done before. Nevertheless, even though there are already a slew of 32-Bit baseball titles available, Virgin's Grand Slam Baseball offers so many unique features that even the most jaded sports gamers will want to take a look.
Grand Slam features unique, arcade-like pitching and batting meters that give gamers unprecedented control. The game also features "smart" fielders who cue the player on which cut-off man or base to throw to. Grand Slam's catchers also signal how to pitch to each real-life batter to exploit his weaknesses at the plate.
Grand Slam has a unique Sprint button to urge base runners to turn doubles into triples and a Back Pedaling Option to give gamers fine control over fielders. This should be a welcome addition, since many games offer clumsy, "all-or-nothing" controls over base runners and outfielders.
The realistic touches don't end there, however. Grand Slam's 28 stadiums, accurately modeled after their big-league counterparts, gradually empty during blowouts and fill to capacity during the playoffs. Because the stadiums are rendered in 3-D, the action can be viewed from any angle, including a behind-the-fielder angle that really puts the gamer down on the field.
Grand Slam Baseball has many modes of play to keep gamers coming back for more. Pitch and Hit Mode is for those who want a fast, arcade-like style of play, while Simulation Mode allows gamers to play an entire season, complete with statistical tracking and player trades. Players can take optional batting and fielding practice or swing for the fences in a home run tournament.
Virgin traditionally has not been known for their sports titles, but games like Grand Slam Baseball should land them in the software big leagues in no time. It's clear that gamers love games which allow for fully customizable play. Control is key in sports games, and it looks like Virgin has kept this firmly in mind throughout the design process.
Even with the sometimes overwhelming number of baseball games available. Virgin's Grand Slam should be one that stands out from the crowd. It's a sure bet that baseball fans and fans of sports games in general will definitely want to take a look at this one. It won't disappoint.
- MANUFACTURER - Virgin
- THEME - Sport
- NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1-8
Download Grand Slam Baseball
Formerly known as The Show, Grand Slam steps up to the plate with all the major-league players and stadiums, trades, and decent motion-captured graphics. But the control set-up is where Grand Slam may stand out: Pitchmg and batting involve windup meters that require you to peg the power, accuracy, and timing "of the pitch or swing. It's an interesting approach, but the field's already packed w ith top titles, so the true tale will be told in the hands-on gameplay. Stay tuned.
Grand Slam might not approach the plate with the power list of features or awesome look baseball fanatics demand, but it does provide enough fast-playing hardball action to satisfy the occasional fan.
Nomo Mister Nice Guy
When it comes to options, for everything Grand Slam does right, there's something equally wrong. There's an MLB PA license, but no big-name rookies like Vladimir Guerrero, no Deion Sanders, and no MLB license, so you're forced to play on generic teams. There's Season and Exhibition play, trades, Practice, and Tater tournaments, but no create-a-player (you can't even create Deion), drafts, offensive managerial strategy, or double switches. You can't move your pitcher on the mound or adjust your batter's stance, or move him up and down in the box.
Where Grand Slam shines is in its line-drive game speed and revolutionary' pitching control. Pitches are thrown via a swinging meter, as in PGA Tour Golf, which determines the speed and accuracy of each one. It takes timing and skill to master--one slip-up and you can hang a curveball in the middle of the plate or bean a would-be batter. Other all-star control elements include speed bursts, jumping for liners, take-out slides, and three batting modes with varying skill levels.
Unfortunately, Grand Slam's graphics fall below the Mendoza line for 32-bit baseball games. Player movements, like diving for grounders, aren't well detailed, and there are no cool player collisions or stadium flybys like in Triple Play '98.
The sound strikes out with limited crowd reactions and repetitive PA music that never makes you feel like you're playing in the big leagues. A boring announcer who's often late on his calls adds to the audio trouble.
Warning Track Power
Grand Slam's gameplay is fairly fun, and if you can overlook the game's faults, you'll have a pretty good time playing. But with an extraordinary game like Triple Play '98 (see ProReview, this issue), on the market, why settle for anything less?
- When pitching, the farther the meter goes into the red. the harder the throw: But the harder the throw, the more stamina your pitcher loses. To avoid tiring your ace, only let loose with the hard stuff when you need a key pitch.
- Keep batters off balance by varying the speed of your pitches.
- In Grand Slam, picking a team with strong hitting is more to your advantage than selecting a team with good pitching.
- On the basepaths, getting in rundowns is pointless against the computer. The fielder's speed is greater than the runner's.
- When vou hit a ball into the gap, don't assume it's an automatic double. The fielders run extremely fast and will gun you down at second if y ou're not careful.
- The computer's an aggressive base stealer. When it's on base, throw fastbails and be prepared for an attempted steal.
Grand Slam steps up to the plate with a unique style of gameplay and all your favorite major leaguers, but this game still needs some spring training work before it's ready for the majors. Instead of the normal pitching and batting method that has gamers merely aim a cursor to swing or throw. Grand Slam provides meters--like those usually seen in golf games--that determine both speed and accuracy. Although this setup worics well with pitching, the batting meters are somewhat off, making life at the plate frustrating. Grand Slam has a chance to be a big-time player, but it definitely needs fine-tuning before this game can compete with Triple Play.