|a game by||VR Sports|
|Editor Rating:||8/10, based on 3 reviews|
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After a long delay, VR Baseball's finally ready for Opening Day with an impressive graphical facelift. Beautifully textured polygonal players move with lifelike grace, and their jerseys even carry their name and number on the back. VRB spoils the usual features, too, including Quick Play, Season, Practice, and Home Run Derby modes; all the big-league teams and players; and trades. Pitchers hurl three pitches at three speeds, and fielders can dive and jump. Disappointingly, instant replays and player creation didn't make the cut, but if VR Sports cleans up the sluggish frame rate and other problems in this preview version--as it plans to--this rookie has serious potential.
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Like Bottom of the 9th, VR Baseball swings for the fences in a world of Virtua Fighter-style polygonal graphics. Although some may find the blocky look somewhat unappealing, the allure of VR's fluid, graceful motion-captured movements and realistic 3D stadiums is undeniable. Each ballplayer even has his own real-life face! More importantly, the game mixes all the right features with a few intriguing standouts, such as the ability to play from any position and any camera angle. VR's batting order sports all the major-league teams, players, and stadiums; arcade-or sim-style gameplay; and exhibition and season modes.
Interplay has gone to great lengths to bring us great titles such as Redneck Rampage, Carmageddon, and Starfleet Academy. With these games they showed us what they were made of, and that's some good stuff. That's why it's hard for me to believe they had anything to do with this project. VR Sports claims that this baseball sim is the next generation in baseball sims, and is made for hardware accelerated systems. It is true that it is best displayed on higher end systems, but the next generation? No way. Let's start with the name. VR Baseball. VR meaning Virtual Reality, right? I'm not so sure. The players, all of which have the same squashed, pug-like faces, stand hovering an inch above the batter's box and tremble as if they've had too much caffeine. They have elbows and shoes that are so pointed they could be used to open all the fan mail of this game if there was any call for it. Sorry to say, but those are just the beginning of the problems for this sorry baseball game.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Well, baseball is baseball, at least to some extent. This game gives you the chance to play Homerun Derby (more on this in a minute), take batting practice, and play a full or partial season. Another thing it does in the season mode is let you trade any player, for any other player, but with no restrictions. How boring is that? If you want to call it "VR" then put prices on these players and give me a salary cap. I don't want to be able to trade Travis Fryman for Matt Williams without taking a big hit -- if they made some realistic trade strategy or management, that would be fun, but as it is it just allows you to pack all the big guns on your team and crush anybody you want. And while I'm harping on the realism, where are Tampa Bay and Arizona? I guess they can't play this year, at least not in this league. Why aren't the rosters updated accordingly? Too many questions go unanswered, and too many things have been left out. It's one thing to be ambitious, but only if you can deliver.
As for the gameplay itself, the swinging and pitching controls are very simple. I just used my trusty gamepad (didn't bother with keyboard controls), and the game was easy to use. Swinging and pitching both were a cinch to master, and I became as talented as Nolan Ryan after pitching one game and a Babe Ruth-class slugger after playing offense one time around. In fact, I hit 15 homeruns in two games... that's the reality level here.
Don't even get me started on the graphics. Well, okay... every stadium is here, and they look almost as good as the real thing... until you look closely. Take, for instance, Tiger Stadium. If you have ever been there or watched a game on TV that's broadcast from there, you know about the overhang in right field. Many a pitcher has cursed that sucker, but VR has taken that out of play by letting balls pass right through it! Speaking of physics and physical impossibilities, it would be nice when I'm playing outfield for the balls to have some sort of realistic movement, and not the stuff they included here (see). Home runs that start off as line drives almost spiral as they hit the stands. The stands? Somehow I missed the great disaster that happend when steamrollers got loose and flattened the spectators in every stadium across the country. I half expected the balls that landed out there to bounce off and ricochet back at me, or land back on the grass. Grass? Did I say grass? Oops, I meant airbrushed concrete. The field looked like it had been colored in with crayons, or better yet, watercolors.
This game is supposed to be geared for hardware-accelerated computers, so I was excited because that's me... but after looking at it, I couldn't help but ask why they would have gone to the trouble of touting the hardware acceleration. What's the point with the lack of realism? Making this game hardware-accelerated is like putting a 427cc V-8 into a Volkswagen Beetle! No point in it.
Could it be that I found no problems with the audio? Nope, there were a bunch. Although I liked the PA announcer in the background and the occasional vendors, whenever I played Home Run Derby I got a horrible hum, like feedback from an old amplifier. Also, the crowd cheered me a lot even when I was the visiting team. If you want to make this a VR game, you'd need hecklers and guys yelling at you when you step up to the plate.
Pentium 120 or better, Windows 95 with DirectX 5, 16MB RAM, 30 MB hard drive space, a modern 3D accelerator (3dfx, rendition v1000, v2200, ATI 3d rage pro), Sound Blaster-compatible sound card, mouse, keyboard or gamepad.
A game with a name like "VR" anything should be just that, VR, not a cheap imitation of. My advice to you, if you want to play baseball on a PC, is to buy Triple Play or or even Micro League Baseball, all of which will give you what you pay for. Conclusion? I did find this CD very useful in leveling out my speakers in the den.