Review by omar32
All Star Baseball starts out great. It has a great opening scene which features images of baseball legends from the ranks of baseball heaven, and is spectacularly put together. The number of options on this game are unparalleled by any other game that I have ever seen, and the franchise mode approaches ground breaking material in the video game baseball world. Despite all the accolades that All Star Baseball racks up with its stunning graphics and amazing features, it falls short in some of its basic components, and takes a step backward in gameplay from last years stellar 2003 version. So here is the break down
The graphics are not AS good as some make them out to be. You can find just as good graphics in any of the other baseball games. What sets ASB apart from the rest is the unparalleled stadium models. The game is full of beautiful stunning models of stadiums from past and present, as well as stadiums constructed specifically for expansion teams to be used in the expansion mode. The players are decent, you can recognize Barry Bonds from Ken Griffey Junior. However I couldnt help but noticing how ASB made everybody appear to be out of shape in the game. This is most obvious in the create a player feature which I will get to later. The animations are smooth with very little flaws.
One of the key necessities for any baseball game to make an attempt at capturing the essence of being at the ball park is the sounds. And ASB in 2004 shatters the competition in this category. The sounds are extremely realistic. The sound of the ball coming off the bat is gorgeous, the announcers are great, although redundant at times as with any other game. The music is outstanding, the crowd is magnificent. 10's all around.
What surprised me about ASB this year is that the controls seem to be worse than in last years version. While last years version played extremely smooth and within the context of the game, this years version can be a bit choppy and lack fluidity. Furthermore, their are glitches at times in the delivery of the pitcher which can be annoying. Last year the pitchers delivery was outstanding, absolutely catching the feel of a true to life batter/pitcher interface. However this year's version is not nearly as sexy, the pitcher looks as if he's pitching out of a closet and looks very blocky. The batters swing is also delayed a bit making it difficult (but not impossible) to catch up to a 94 mph fast ball without anticipating it out of the pitchers hand (and risking swinging disgustingly early on a changeup or other pitch). The actual fielders dont play with the same fluidity as 2003 which will surely frustrate any players as they watch outfielders due a little dance before releasing the ball as the game winning run scores from third base. However, these flaws will be reduced once you master the controls of the game, which will take about a week. (most of it is just timing)
Franchise Mode 8/10
Ah, the glory of ASB, or so it should have been. I give this category an 8 because any game with a franchise mode this deep deserves it, no matter what its flaws. The franchise mode comes complete with an amateur draft, winter meetings in which you set a 40 man roster and participate in a rule 5 draft. You then decide on which free agents to draft, shift players throughout the minors and then adjust your lineups accordingly in the regular season. In the winter meetings you will have to deal with arbitration cases with the players, frustrating contract negotiations, and you will have to manage a major league budget between management, training, scouting, and medical teams. The only reason I give this rating an 8 instead of an 11, is because the user interface for the franchise mode is extremely slow with unnecessary animations and slow loading times when loading options. You will find the create a player feature to be very frustrating and extremely archaic. Although there is not limit to the amount of ratings you can give to a player, you have no control over the age of the player. For example, you can spend 15 minutes building the perfect player, only to find out that the game decided to make his career begin at 34 leaving him 5 to 6 good years before he retires. I still cannot understand the theory behind this but, whatever. Oh, and when you get to the point where you are going to decide what this player looks like, get ready to cycle through 500 different model types (each which take 1.5 seconds to load), which means that you will spend at about 10 minutes doing something that should take seconds. It is surprising to me that the games programmers didnt recognize this at the point of release.
The game tends to crash a lot so you shouldnt play to many games without saving, or your liable to lose everything. What the game gains in outstanding graphics, and features, it destroys in game speed and inconvenience. Despite all of the game flaws, I wouldnt get any other game. I am a baseball junkie down to the end and this is the only game that satisfies my thirst. But to each is own and this is a dead honest assessment of this game.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 04/05/03, Updated 04/05/03
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