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Game Over Online ~ Hardball 6 2000 Edition

GameOver Game Reviews - Hardball 6 2000 Edition (c) Accolade, Reviewed by - FKrueger

Game & Publisher Hardball 6 2000 Edition (c) Accolade
System Requirements Pentium 100, 16MB Ram, 4x CD-ROM, DirectX 6.0+
Overall Rating 58%
Date Published Friday, April 2nd, 1999 at 03:37 PM


Divider Left By: FKrueger Divider Right

It’s been a couple of days since I finished up Triple Play 2000, yet it’s time to hit diamond once again. Stepping up to the plate for the second inning, Hardball 6 2000 Edition. The Hardball series has had a rich and prosperous history on the PC, and this year’s edition is probably best classified as an enhanced version of Hardball 6, released last year. The 2000 edition includes an improved pitching AI, up-to-date team rosters, current 1999 schedules and updated statistics based on the 1998 season. While the Hardball series has been extremely successful in the past, this year’s edition seems to be a can of corn.

When you first load up Hardball 6 2000 Edition (Hardball from this point onward), you get the immediate feeling that the graphics don’t match the likes of Triple Play 2000 or High Heat Baseball 2000. The menu system, while pleasant, doesn’t have the same pizzazz as it’s competitors. They seem very basic and plain. When you first take to the field, you’ll also notice that the 3DFX mode isn’t up to par with Triple Play 2000, High Heat Baseball 2000, or any other baseball title for that matter.

The player models are rendered fairly nicely. Unfortunately, the main downfall is that they all look the same. You can’t tell one player from another, apart from the color of their skin and the uniforms they wear. There is no individuality whatsoever, and this takes away from the game quite a bit. The stadiums are also sub-par when it comes to detail. Each stadium is recognizable and dimensionally accurate, but there’s no detail in the structure. When at the plate looking out towards center field, banners and structures beyond the outfield wall look blocky. The texture of the ground isn’t very realistic either. Both the infield and outfield are incredibly flat with little or no detail in them. The artificial turf is much the same. The level of the graphics becomes especially noticeable when you hit a foul ball. At this point, you really get a good look at the crowd and dugout graphics, which seem to have been completely left out. The graphics is definitely an area that needs improvement. If they could add detail to the stadiums, playing field and the players themselves (especially in determining one player from another), it would be much more pleasant to look at.

Unfortunately for Hardball fans, the sound hasn’t improved much over the years. The commentary alone, by Greg Papa, leaves much to be desired. I always wondered why they got rid of Al Michael’s voice in this department. Although the timing seems to have been improved, the quality hasn’t. The announcer talks in monotone most of the time, and his comments have little variation. You can really notice the problems when Greg announces the pitch count. "One (stop) ball, and (stop) one (stop) strike." It really becomes annoying after awhile. I would love to have heard some color commentary in the game as well. All commentary surrounds the current gameplay. That’s not a bad thing, but some quirky facts here and there would liven it up. Luckily for us, the crowd noise and sound effects are pretty good. Whether it’s the crack of the bat, or a collision at home plate, it’s all done well. Most importantly, you can turn off the play-by-play commentary and still enjoy some good sound.

Hardball offers an exhibition mode, a regular season mode and a pre-season mode. The pre-season mode is just a fancy way of putting together some teaching tools, including a home run derby. Beginners will definitely want to try their hand at some fielding practice and some long ball hitting before starting up a normal game. The reason I say this, is that Hardball 6 is more simulation based then say Triple Play 2000. In Triple Play 2000, a sinker has no meaning whatsoever. It doesn’t sink, and it can be cranked out of the park as easily as a fastball could. In Hardball, a sinker actually sinks, making it a little more difficult to hit. This is a prime example of the difference between the Hardball series and the Triple Play series. Triple Play aims at an arcade crowd, whereas Hardballs aims at the simulation crowd.

Hardball’s regular season mode includes everything Triple Play 2000 does and more. Besides offering the normal 25 man starting roster, you’ll also have a dozen minor leaguers at your disposal in case of injury, or in the case you want to make a deal. Other features in the season mode include consecutive season play with an amateur draft between seasons, all 30 Major League teams and every MLBPA player. A custom league and schedule generator and updated 1999 player rosters are also available. What does this add up to? A great baseball simulation. It’s certainly deep in that respect, but shallow in others.

The controls in Hardball are the same as the previous editions. Why fix something that ain’t broke? It’s a simple yet effective control system, that allows you to handle your hitting, base running, pitch selection, field positioning and other strategies without having to exit to other menus. There are very few camera angles in Hardball 6 2000 Edition. This is another area I’d like to see them work on. You can view the game from behind the plate or behind the pitcher, but you can’t adjust the height of those angles.

So what can you expect in respect to gameplay? You can expect to actually be able to strike batters out with the right pitch selection. The sweet spot isn’t as large as in Triple Play, so you won’t see as many hits. Hitting is much more realistic, so you won’t see players clobbering 100+ home runs in one season. Fielding ground balls is much easier in Hardball, but fielding fly balls is atrocious. There is no way of judging the height of a fly ball hit to your outfielders, and it can become a circus out there if you aren’t used to it. When players hit a home run, they actually round the bases (round being the key word there) rather then stopping at each bag and making perfect 90 degree turns before proceeding to the next base. Pitching control is at a premium in Hardball. By moving a cursor around the plate, you can actually pinpoint where you want to throw the pitch, as long as your pitcher has good control. Basically, what you’re getting here is a much more realistic baseball simulation then you would in the Triple Play series. Unfortunately, it’s not very pleasant to watch or listen to.

It doesn’t get much smoother then Hardball 6, though, when it comes to multiplayer action. You can play via Internet, serial, modem and LAN connections, and the fact the graphics aren’t superb allows for a lag free game of baseball.

So what’s the scouting report on Hardball 6 2000 Edition? It’s a veteran player whose skills seem to be deteriorating with each new season. It’s a game in need of a face lift, an injection of sound, and a tweak in gameplay here and there. When it comes to baseball simulation it doesn’t get much better, but when it comes down to an overall baseball experience, this edition is near the bottom of the lineup. The competition out there is fresh and up to beat with today’s technology. We can only hope the makers of the Hardball series can salvage the legacy they created.

 

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Rating
58%
 

 

 
 

 

 

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