If you've played one, you've played them all. That's the biggest knock against MLB 2001. If you don't mind having outdated rosters (something that drives me crazy--and these game makers know it!) than you're really not missing out on much. My biggest issue, though, is there's not really anything about the game that excites me. It's missing the essential element of baseball drama, partially because of its lack of a risk/reward pitching system. If I get in trouble on the mound, no problem, because I don't need to warm up pitchers before bringing them in. This is a big simulation element that needs to be in there. It's baseball! On the cool end, there's an interesting point-based franchise mode. If you earn enough points (by winning, performing well in the game, etc.) then you can sign high-end free agents, but it only goes on for one season. What kind of Franchise mode is that? One good thing is the pitcher/batter interface. If you're looking for a curveball low and in, and the pitcher surprises you with a 90+ fastball high and away, you'll be hard-pressed to catch up with it. But overall, the game moves too slowly. It may be baseball, but there was no poetic license exercised when it came to purging the boring elements of America's pastime. That's a mistake. I hate to say it, but I'm voting for the lesser of two evils when I say Triple Play 2001 is the best baseball game on the PlayStation this year.
Since the PlayStation's power has been all but maxxed out, I must say that it has been particularly hard to distinguish this year's crop of baseball games from last year's. MLB 2001 feels almost virtually identical to 2000's edition--that is to say it is good, but not great. At this point, I wonder if all of the subtle changes warrant another purchase, especially when the rosters aren't even up to date. Triple Play 2001 at least had some wholly new notable features, where MLB 2001 is mostly a slight across-the-board update that's still playing catch-up with EA's baseball game. What it all comes down to is this is a good second-place game, but why settle for less?
I'm pleasantly surprised about this year's MLB. Updated rosters aren't the only change in this offering from 989 Sports. Graphically, they've cleaned and sharpened the look of the players, many of whom actually look like their real-life counterparts. A Franchise as well as a modified Spring Training Mode are also new, both of which are welcome additions. Gameplay and other pertinent areas are solid-good hit variety, smart player Al, etc...Now a few complaints. The play-by-play lags at times, the pitching interface doesn't like the analog control, and some unique scenarios repeat too often (players caught in run-downs, etc.).
Download MLB 2001
Last year 989 Sports took a lot of heat for releasing MLB 2000 virtually unchanged from the prior year. To make good, they've done a lot of work on MLB 2001. A Franchise Mode highlights the joys of drafting, trading and managing a team. Brand-new Al created by the smartest managers in baseball is new as well. Hopefully they'll leave the Create-a-Player Mode unchanged--it's great. MLB 2001 is due out this March.