Ithink homer said it best (Simpson, that is, not the Greek philosopher) when he was forced to attend a baseball match without the benefit of alcohol to soften the brain, a fate to which he cried, "I never realised how dull this game was before." Let's be frank, baseball is a dull game. Someone throws a ball, someone else hits it and someone further away catches it and r throws it back. About as exciting as a day trip to Congleton. I So with that in mind, HardBall 4 is a pretty accurate simulation. Which is to say that it's a very good game - well, it is if you're a baseball fan.
t It's easy to control (using the familiar Hardball control system), has more statistics than a "Page 3 Girl of the Year" competition, and some of the finest graphics of any baseball game going (thanks to the lovely SVGA modes). I'd balk at saying it was better than Front Page Sports: Baseball since the Dynamix effort has some nice features that HardBall doesn't and is marginally better presented, but to be honest there's not much in it. After all, baseball is baseball is baseball and there are only so many ways you can simulate it. Rather than radically restructure anything. Accolade decided to go with a familiar game and call in a star endorsement to woo the public.
"Hi... I'm Al Michaels" (cheesy grin)
No, I've never heard of him either, but according to the biography that comes with the game, he's America's answer to Dickie Davis, and has won more awards for sports broadcasting than actually exist (or something). Oh, and he lives with his wife and two kids in Los Angeles. Not too sure why they wanted to tell us that, but there you go. The reason 1 mention him is that his involvement in the game is one of the few reasons why you might want to defect to the Dynamix camp instead of pitching your tent and joining in with the war cries here. The Accolade team has insisted on letting him "commentate" throughout each of your league games by having him pre-record all the team and player names, their positions, any possible score variations and assorted "off the cuff' comments like, "He's really hot today!" (a comment that normally gives Mrs Michaels cause for concern).
Unfortunately, these recordings are not all they could have been, and because Accolade has cut them down into tiny chunks which can be strung together in a million different combinations, covering all possible actions and results, A1 Michaels has ended up sounding like a badly-edited Dalek. You keep expecting him to say, "Strike one... Strike two... Strike three! He will be EXTERMINATHD!" My advice? Turn the sound off (and that goes for the music as well).
Remember the early days of Sierra adventures and how everything had that horrible mid-'8os, easy-listening stuff accompanying it? Accolade is still there (man). I'm betting its programming team dance around the office listening to The Beach Boys.
Field of electric dreams
Apart from that, HardBall 4 is as perfect a game of baseball as... well, as Front Page Sports: Baseball is. You can run full-single or multi-player leagues, exhibition games and practice sessions. You can customise everything from the name of your league to your team's logo. You can play as much or as little of each game as you like. And, if you like letting the computer play the whole game, you can even just sit back and play the manager's role only.
Hardball 4 has got everything the avid baseball fan could want, which is currently more than the real game has. Count your chickens while you can, say I.
Download Hardball 4
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP