High Heat Baseball 1999
The 1998 baseball season is well under way and as usual, there is a healthy supply of baseball simulations available. EA’s Hardball series are competing for that hard-earned baseball dollar as expected, but this year there is a new player on deck -- High Heat Baseball 1999. 3DO and Team .366 have developed quite a fun and challenging game of baseball. High Heat Baseball sacrifices the true statistics and managing capabilities offered by the other computer baseball simulations and focuses on delivering more of an arcade baseball game.and Accolade’s
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
There are four different difficulty levels to choose from, ranging from rookie to MVP. I found rookie very challenging at the start. The major difference between the difficulty levels is how easy it is to hit. There are two camera angles to choose from: catcher level and just above the catcher’s head level. Once you decide the angle, you have your work cut out for you. Making contact with the pitches has to be just as difficult in this game as it is in the major leagues. This is hard to explain without actually experiencing the game. Hitting requires your utmost concentration and a little luck to boot. You can guess the next pitch to increase your chances of hitting it. Base running can also become a challenging task. For example, hitting a soft base hit to right field means you might be able to advance your runner from 1st to 3rd depending on how quick the right fielder can get to the ball. High Heat Baseball recreates this element of baseball better than any other game. Hit a line drive down the line or off the wall and you can almost always be assured of a double. Scoring on a base hit from 2nd base can also be a judgment call depending on where the outfielder makes the play. Unfortunately, player attributes do not appear to be depicted. There is no way to create players or make basic adjustment settings such as speed or arm strength, and it does not appear to make any difference. All players seem to be the same speed and arm strength. Stamina and arm strength are represented for pitchers but cannot be edited, so you are stuck with the factory settings. Bringing in relief pitchers is a matter of selecting the new pitcher from your bullpen and he’s in; there is no warming up of relief pitchers
The first time I loaded up this game on a non-3D accelerated machine I was sickened by the dreadful graphics! For a moment I thought I was back in the days of my Atari 800. Still feeling peaked and looking pale, I installed the game onto a 3Dfx system -- and what a difference a 3Dfx graphics card can make. I regained my composure and facial color and started becoming more content with the graphics. Even with the 3D acceleration, the overall graphics look fair at best. All the major league stadiums are accurately represented and fairly detailed. The players in relation to their surroundings are about the right size; however, graphically speaking, are not on the same level as the field and stadium graphics. When the players run out onto the field, they have sort of a "pasted on" look to them. They look as if they are running above the field on a cushion of air instead of on the field. Occasionally a batter will break their bat over their knee upon striking out in a pressure situation, regardless of the real life personality of that player. It struck me as funny to see a guy like Cal Ripken, Jr. doing this. If a visiting team’s player hits a home run, quite often the ball is thrown back onto the field. This can happen even if it is hit over the Green Monster at Fenway Park!
Ted Robinson, the voice of the San Francisco Giants, does the play-by-play in High Heat Baseball. Like most baseball sims, the play-by-play gets real old really fast. Ted will quite frequently call an inside pitch as outside and vice versa. He will also at times get very excited over a routine ground out or fly out. The music is also not on par to what the Hardball series has offered. Most of the sounds have their own volume adjustments so you can tailor that to your liking. The only problem is that the volume adjustments reset after each time you load the program. The best audio feature is how the crowd can sense the excitement of a close game. For example, if you get a go ahead run on base in the ninth inning, the crowd comes alive and reacts to each pitch just like a real baseball game.
I actually had to rewrite this review. In the original review, I had listed quite a number of gripes which no longer exist, thanks to a much-needed patch available on 3DO's web site. For those of us with AMD or Cyrix CPUs, it is a mandatory patch; you will not even get to the opening menu without it. The patch also adds "manage only" support, which was my biggest gripe of all. Don’t let that fool you; this game is by all means meant to be a blister-making, hand-sweating, arcade baseball game from beginning to end. There is also a long list of further fixes and enhancements contained in the patch’s readme file.
Minimum Requirements: Windows 95, 133 MHz, 32 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM drive, 50 MB hard drive space, Direct Sound compatible sound card
Recommended: 166 MHz, 100 MB hard drive space, 3Dfx or Direct 3D compatible video card, game pad
High Heat Baseball 1999 is not the baseball game for everyone. It will not satisfy your desire to play as a manager or fulfill your need to fiddle with rosters and team characteristics. For those who are interested in some of the most accurately represented gameplay a baseball game has to offer, High Heat Baseball should achieve that necessity. 3DO and Team .366 are working on the sequel for next year; they have acknowledged the limitations present in this game and are promising to do something about it. By then, the callus on my index finger will have softened up and I'll be ready for another season.