All Star Baseball 2001
I'll start by stating that Acclaim has made the best console baseball game of the year, in a franchise which represents the best sports games you'll find on the N64. There aren't too many changes overall, which is fine by me since I thought last year's game was great. This one is a few Pedro Martinez curve-balls above that. One of the changes was the addition of the hot and cold meters, which give a sense of how the player will do and has been doing. Another addition is the ability to slide away from tags. If the ball is waiting for you, sometimes a great slide will reward you. On the other hand, sometimes you'll overslide by bad timing. But there's no penalty for it. Not good. My favorite part of the game is how the stars really shine. Pedro Martinez can be nearly unhittable, Roberto Alomar is one of the toughest outs in the American league, and the murderer's row known as the Yankees is a pitching nightmare. But any baseball game should be judged on its ability to track stats and do it realistically. Throughout a season I was pleased by the way my high average hitters didn't stay above. 400 and my Mendoza-men got above .200 quickly. Oh, and the stat tracking is on par with Rain Man's Raymond. You'll even get Gold Gloves awarded for outstanding defensive play. There's a lot to this one. Don't miss it.
All-Star Baseball 2001 flies in the face of everything Acclaim has released in recent memory, which is a good thing. Finally, N64 jocks have a game which their PlayStation friends actually want to play. ASB 2001 captures the essence of the pitcher/batter showdown perfectly, making each at-bat as fun as the last. It doesn't hurt that everything looks great (thank you Expansion Pak) either. ASB 2001 should be in every baseball junkie's collection.
Not surprisingly, ASB 2001 is very similar to last year's game. That's a good thing, after all, look what happened to Quarterback Club when they "updated" it...ouch. Don't look for the power-hit option, it's gone. Apparently it was too easy to smack a home run. So what do you have? Basically updated rosters, a few new moves and a damn good baseball sim overall. I still believe All-Star Baseball is the finest sports series the N64 has to offer.
There's no doubt that the strengths of this game are its realism and graphics--if you want the best-looking baseball game, go no further than ASB 2001. On the gameplay side, there's a lot of things to like, especially the innovative batting "heads-up" display that lets you aim where you want to hit the ball. I do think that the quiet atmosphere and pedestrian pace of the game could be jazzed up, but you really can't go wrong with this one.