Review by Shady
Ever since Sammy Sosa first hit 66 home runs back in 1998, his popularity has been unreal. In one year at the plate, Sosa went from an above average right fielder that only Cubs fans really knew about to a now common household name. Hoping to cash in on Sosa's success and popularity, 3D0 brought him in and made him their spokesperson for the 2001 version of their High Heat Baseball game. To go along with magazine commercials and TV commercials (It's so reeeaaallll!), 3D0 added Sammy Sosa's name to the game's title. The title went from being High Heat Baseball 2001 to the ridiculously long Sammy Sosa High Heat Baseball 2001. Whether the numerous advertisements and the brief name change boosted sales is somewhat of a mystery, it is safe to say that Sammy Sosa did not help boost his game's average gameplay.
The High Heat Baseball series has always focused on being the best for hardcore baseball fans and stat freaks. Sammy Sosa High Heat Baseball 2001 (...) is true to its roots, as it is loaded with all sorts of stats. Ever wondered how many times Magglio Ordonez was hit by a pitch in 1998? What about Scott Williamsons' K/9 average in 1999? Even better yet - the game will keep track of those stats plus more in the season mode for every year they play. Sadly, the extensive stat-tracking is one of the few bright spots in SSHHB2K1 (yeah, I don't want to type out that name again).
Speaking of the season mode, it contains a whole lot of great things to do. Once you pick your team and choose whether or not you wish to do a fantasy draft, you have full control over your team. Is your rookie third baseman doing poorly? Send him back to AAA and call up another player. Want to set two different lineups to go up against both right-handed and left-handed pitchers? Go ahead, you can do whatever you want. You can even set lineups and rotations for your minor league teams (AAA, AA, and A)! When you finish a season (either by playing or simming it), you move on to the next one, much like the franchise modes found in other sports games. Season mode is great fun, but just like stat-tracking, it's one of the few bright spots in the game.
Aside from season mode, there are a few other ways to play. If you wish, you can play in an exhibition game, a quick version of the playoffs, a high-flying home run derby, and a round of batting practice. There is also an option for internet play, but I doubt very few people even play this game anymore, seeing as how its old and all. None of these modes are truly great, although home run derbys are fun with more than one person playing.
If you don't wish to hear anything bad about the game, I suggest you stop reading this review. Things could get ugly.
Sammy Sosa High Heat Baseball 2001 is a buggy game. A very buggy game. A few patches have been released to solve the bugs, but they don't fix all of the bugs. Players still get stuck in the outfield corners, players magically disappear at the plate while you are browsing through the menus, and the program sometimes closes itself when you finish a game. These bugs are absolutely ridiculous and should have been fixed before the game was released, but they aren't the worst. There is one major bug that will not let me play a game with sound. As soon as the game loads with the sound on, the game freezes and the computer has to be rebooted. Supposedly, this is just a problem on certain computers (like mine, a Compaq Presario) but it is still one of the worst bugs you can have in a game. All of the bugs can really make games difficult to play. Simply inexcusable, 3D0, simply inexcusable.
The bad doesn't stop there, ohhhh noooo. The game looks horrible. It's not just ugly, it's fugly. Players look nothing like their real-life counterparts - all of them have the exact same faces (well, except for Sammy Sosa). The only difference between most players is their skin color. It's not just the lack of detail on the players that is appalling either, they look horribly disfigured. A person with a leg sticking out of his head looks more normal than the players in this game. It's as if 3D0 didn't even put any effort into the player designs. Bad.
Believe it or not, there's something worse than both the frustrating game bugs and horrid player design put together - the animations. Oh man, are they laughable. Some of the batting animations are so awful that they are friggin' hilarious. Players fall down after swinging for no reason. Players look back at the camera with the most retarded facial expression I have ever seen after they take a pitch. Simply humorous. Then there are the ones that are just plain awful. Once a play has ended, the fielders will go to a bent over position as if they are waiting for the ball to be hit. That doesn't seem too bad, but sometimes there runners on base. And when the fielders go to that position, they sometimes do it right onto the runner. Let's just say that it is very disturbing. It will most certainly piss off 'hardcore' homophobes. Horrible, horrible animations.
It's a shame that Sammy Sosa High Heat Baseball 2001 is such an ugly and buggy game, because it does have some great stuff in it. Stat freaks and baseball simulation fans will love the game's very extensive stat-tracking and accurate information. However, the same stat-tracking and accurate info can be found in much more appealing baseball simulators like Out of the Park and Diamond Mind Baseball, and even in newer editions of High Heat (especially the great 2003 edition). Unless you are a hardcore Sammy Sosa fan, I cannot recommend this game.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 04/20/02, Updated 04/20/02
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