Review by TheMachoKing

"A fun blend of arcade and simulation style baseball fun with superior graphics !!!"

Presentation: 9/10

This game has really slick animated menus and interactive options and backgrounds. It looks great. Crisp, clean, bright, and easy to use. The icons and text are easy to read and looks great. The instruction manual is also one of the better ones out there. I know what you are thinking, “Who cares about the instruction manual? I never look at those things anyway!?! “ But I thumbed thru this one and it’s very informative. Nomar is the cover boy for IP 3003 and every page of the manual has things like “Nomar says” or “Ask Nomar”. Now, I’m personally a big baseball fan and don’t need much from a manual… But, I was playing a NHL X-BOX game a few months ago for the first time and I remember how much some of the little Hockey info tidbits in that games manual helped me. Not a big hockey fan I learned some things about the nuances of the game from reading that manual. IP 2003 should be given 2 thumbs up for including explanations of the hit and run, when to steal, and insights from Nomar about getting ahead and behind in the count and how to try to predict pitches as a batter and how to confuse the batter as a pitcher. Nothing new here to most fans, But if you are a newbie, this gives you all the back ground on the game of baseball that you’d need to dive right in….

Game play: 7/10

This could be a personal taste issue, but I’m more accustomed to the pitching and batting in All Star Baseball and World Series Baseball. I only played High Heat a few times, but this reminded me of the things I didn’t like about it. If you have played High Heat before and didn’t mind their style of pitching, then you’ll probably like this. If you have never played HH before, basically you use the X, Y, A, and B buttons to select one of r possible pitches. All the pitchers have 4. Nobody that I saw had 3 or 5. Just all had 4. Then you have another choice whether you want that particular pitch to be either a strike, a ball, or a pitch out. Then you use a little glowing cursor to select a baseball-sized area inside the strike zone. Then your pitcher will throw the pitch you selected for you. There is no guesswork here. You can’t throw a high slider that looked like it was going to be too high for a ball that will then drop a little down and be a strike. No trying to throw a ball or strike and not making it. It’s automatic. That kinds of bums me out, But I found it MUCH easier to throw K’s this way since I always knew I could just throw a strike whenever I wanted too.
Batting is pretty similar to most other baseball games and is pretty good. You get a choice between power and contact swings but I didn’t see much in the way of stealing. At least not as plain to see what you need to do as in WSB.
Overall, the game play is good. A bit aracadey at times, But not bad. I just like ASB and WSB better in this department.
However, the biggest thing working agaisnt this game in this area is these 3 awful words...
I didn't stutter and you read that right...
But, before I started hyper ventilating, the season mode is here compete with an all star game, the full 162 game season, and the play offs.
If I get though all this without simming once, then I'll come to the Inside Pitch message board and start some Inside ********, (<rhynmes with pitching !)
But until then, I guess a full season mode is O.K.
It actually fits this style of game pretty well...

Graphics: 10/10

Here is where this game shines and shines. Some of the players look a little too muscular or heroic, But other than that --- these graphics are amazing! The lights look like they are really burning in the night sky and the stadiums look better than I’ve ever seen them! Also, the fireworks after a home run in your home ballpark are awesome! There is really no need to go into a big paragraph here. This game just rocks the body that rocks the party in the graphics department. Before playing this, I thought WSB and High Heat were pretty close to having the best baseball game graphics this year. I was wrong. I read something in a sports magazine about Hideki Matsui’s popularity in Japan compared to Ichiro. They said Hideki is first in the hearts of the Japanese baseball fans and Ichiro is fourth. Second and third are both Matsui. In other words the most popular baseball player from Japan in Japan is Hideki by a wide margin. To me WSB is fourth in the list of Graphics in baseball video games. IP 2003 is First, Second, and Third. Nuff’ said…

Sound: 7/10 ( 9/10 or 10/10 if you make your own tracks)

Here, the music and commentary are about as good as any baseball game this year. Not bad. But not really great. But with this game you can copy tracks from your CD’s at home and load them into this game and they’ll replace the somewhat mediocre back ground music already in the game.
Two words of warning though…
Number 1: This was my first time playing music CD’s in my X-BOX and was disappointed to find out burned CD’s WILL NOT PLAY in your X-BOX. Only master copies bought from a store. So, If I want to put anything from Metallica’s black album in it, I gotta go out and buy it. My burned copy won’t work!
Number 2: You can make a soundtrack that can include up to 50 different tracks that will then play randomly. So, You can’t get them to play when you want. I put “Godzilla” by the Blue Oyster Cult on in the hopes that it might play for Matsui. No such luck. Music plays for a few seconds as the batter steps into the box and as the teams change from the field to batting. It only lasts for a few seconds and what it plays is totally random. So, the best thing to do is just pick music that you like that would sound apprioate for just about any player. And if the beginning is a little slow or has talking in it, you might not get to hear the music part that you like before it stops. For example, I picked “Without Me” by Eminem hoping that the “Guess who’s back…” part at the beginning would play for Jeter. But since, the song takes about 10 seconds to get into it I never hear much of it.
One good thing is for some reason I bought these 3 CD’s on TV theme song music a few years ago and they have just been collecting dust on my CD racks. But now I used them to add the intro theme music to the Addams Family, the Twilight Zone, Knight Rider, Airwolf, and a few others and they work really well. For the rest I added various pop, rap, and metal songs.
If you get the right mix of songs the Sound category of this review can easily become a “10” --- But, its up to you to make it this way!

Extra Features: 8/10

O.K., This one has NO baseball legends like most of the others. I haven’t seen any real variety in that department. It seems to stick to current players, teams, and ballparks. Well, It DOES have the all-star teams. But it has a fairly in-depth create a player and importing him is easy. You can also train him in various aspects of his field position to earn skill points.
But one Extra Feature in this game I’ve never seen before that I thought was VERY COOL was the inclusion of a series of baseball challenges.
Now, I know we have seen similar things in other games like this before,
But this is different! They picked about ten or so dates from last year where something special happened in baseball for that day.
For example, Craig Bigeo hitting for the cycle, Barry Bonds hitting his 600th Home Run, Shawn Green’s “total base explosion” of 19 total bases in one game, and that one game where that Lower for BOS threw a no hitter in Fenway. Anyway, there is a picture of the event as well as an audio and text description of it and then you have to duplicate it. You don’t play the whole game though. If you are playing Barry Bond’s 600, you get 4 or 5 at bats to hit the homer.
If you are playing the Shawn Green one, you get 6 at bats to hit for 19 bases any way you can. You don’t see anybody else pitches or at bats. Just yours. But the game goes on because the score changes between at bats and sometimes there will be runners on and sometimes not. If you picked Lowe’s no hitter you get the last nine outs as you start in the 7th and you never see BOS bat.
You just pitch until you get 9 outs. Anyway, the commentary is better here than anywhere else in the game as the announcers discusses the historic event and seems to get into it. There are about 10 or so of these various challenges and you can play them over and over again. Each time you do a challenge, it gives you a score. You score points even if you fail based on partial success and if you succeed, you can get extra points for a more outstanding effort. For example, a longer home runs, more K’s, or more total bases. In the Shawn Green challenge, it’s possible to get more than 19 bases in your 6 at bats. 5 or six homers could do that.
This is a really cool and innovative extra feature that I’ve never seen before and really liked a lot!

Replay Value: 9/10

I have only had this game for two days but so far it’s replay value is very high. How that will be in a few weeks or a few months, I can’t say. Probably still fairly good since I haven’t been able to pry WSB out of my X-BOX for the last month. The X-BOX live capability doesn’t hurt either.

Overall: 8/10

I’m a fan of the simulation style sports game and although this game wasn’t an arcade style game like Slug Fest, the lack of a franchise mode and the somewhat fast paced style of this game was such that I couldn’t bring myself to give it higher than an 8. But the music ripping features, the addition of X-BOX live capability, the animated score boards, and the killer graphics still make this an excellent game. If you can only buy one baseball game this year and you are a fan of true simulation style sports games, skip this one and buy WSB. I own both and am glad that I do and wouldn’t trade either of them away. If you like a sports game that is a little less simulation, then this is the game for you. It’s actually a near perfect blend of the arcade style and the simulation style. It’s not over the top, but not very in depth. Just a fun and nice looking game that is definitely worth a look for all true baseball fans….

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 05/23/03, Updated 05/23/03

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