Review by RedSox1981
"Definitely better than a Tampa Bay-Detroit doubleheader"
The last World Series game I played was 2K2 for the Dreamcast. That was a game I tried SO hard to like, but I just couldn't do it. Between the horrendous ''Since the CPU is losing by 7 runs, they WILL score 11 runs this inning'' AI, and the fact you could easily have Rey Sanchez hit 143 homers with a .650 average if you wanted to, I just couldn't bring myself to play much more than a few games. I went with High Heat for the PS2 last year, and that was a good game, but I felt something was missing.
Then World Series Baseball 2K3 came along.
Where to start? This is like night and day compared to my last WSB experience.
Graphics: The game looks pretty good for a PS2 title. While the facial rendering is good, there is no animation or emotion on them. Johnny Damon looks just like Johnny Damon, but his face is as if it was made of stone. And for some reason, Jason Varitek is missing his goatee. That's just me picking at nits.
The framerate tends to be a little jumpy at times, but that's expected for any system that doesn't begin with ''X'' and end in ''Box''. This never adversely affects the gameplay, unless you just HAVE to have that super-smooth, seamless animation.
The stadiums are rendered wonderfully. Right field at Fenway has the Hood Milk Bottle (with logo blurred out for legal reasons, of course), and Tropicana field is as ugly as ever. They even have some old-timer stadiums, like the Polo Grounds and Forbes Field in there, looking as they did during their hey-day.
Other little things, like dust kicking up as a ball hits the dirt in the infield, and the near perfect double play animations are well done, and add a little something extra to the gaming experience.
Sound: Ted Robinson is back doing the play-by-play. I never particularly cared for his voice, it's always seemed a little too soft for my taste, but he's nothing offensively bad that you have to shut it off. We also have Rex Hudler on color, and he does a pretty good job. He has a frenetic style that you're either going to like a lot or really annoyed by it.
One glaring problem with the commentary, however, is that some calls are screwed up. Home runs are called foul balls. A line drive over the shortstop's head might be called a foul ball. But all in all, it's pretty good.
Of course, you can't forget about the in-game sounds. The crack of the bat, the thwap of a ball meeting leather, even the peanut vendor are all in here. Even better, there are specific fan taunts. If Boston's at Toronto, and Nomar's at the plate, you might hear, ''Hey, Nomar. How's the wrist?'' Very funny and adds a really good fan-feel to the game.
And here is what makes the game great.
This is by far one of the best baseball games to play I've ever had a chance to come across. Everything that's known to the series is here. A cursor for hitting (or for rookies, timed hitting...or for veteran looking for a challenge, a power meter that you must hold down and time your swing for the maximum effect). Nine different pitches at your disposal: fastball, curve, knuckler, sinker, splitter, screwball, change-up, cutter (two-seam) fastball, and the slider. The ability to move your infield for different situations. And the list goes on. Needless to say, this is a very good baseball experience, and you won't see many 12-0 or 15-1 victories on your side, unless you're playing on the weaker difficulties.
Veterans might feel the default Pro difficulty setting is too easy. All-Star is a good challenge, and Legend is for those who are really godly. Everything is customizable, from the CPU attempted steal frequency to the CPU batting AI.
Game modes, you ask? How about the best franchise mode EVER, with coaches, minor leagues, ,scouting, a hall of fame, and a feature that allows to track records and milestones, like hitting streaks. When Sammy Sosa hits his 500th HR, it'll be up there in the News section of your franchise. Quite easily, the most detailed franchise mode ever. Also, Big League Challenge, a sort of Home Run Derby tournament. Anyone who has ever watched the old Home Run Derby shows on ESPN knows how it's setup.
Nits and Bits: Alternate uniforms and retro unis (No White Sox uniforms with the hot pants, though...sorry). Play exhibitions in old-time stadiums. In game ejections. Leaping and diving catches, rob a home run if you're good. A Cooperstown Legends team made of Hall of Famers (Bob Gibson with nasty stuff, Joe Morgan with the elbow wiggle, and Willie Stargel with the bat wave)
The Final Word: If you like baseball, and like to play baseball video games, this is easily worth a rental. But I'd just buy it, because after renting, you're just going to want to go out and purchase it anyway. Save some money. Play for October. Go with WSB 2K3.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 06/15/03, Updated 06/15/03
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