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Game Over Online ~ High Heat Baseball 2000

GameOver Game Reviews - High Heat Baseball 2000 (c) 3D0, Reviewed by - FKrueger

Game & Publisher High Heat Baseball 2000 (c) 3D0
System Requirements Pentium 166, 32MB Ram, DirectX 6.1
Overall Rating 90%
Date Published Monday, April 5th, 1999 at 03:45 PM

Divider Left By: FKrueger Divider Right

So far we’ve had the chance to see the arcade style of Triple Play 2000 and the simulation style of Hardball 6 2000 Edition, now it’s time for 3DO / Team .366 to step up to the plate with High Heat Baseball 2000. The 1999 version was highly acclaimed, apart from the poor graphics. The 2000 edition, simply put, is a home run. It’s the best of both worlds, simulation and arcade, without compromising much in either style.

The biggest improvement between the 1999 and 2000 editions of High Heat Baseball is the graphics. High Heat Baseball 2000 sports sweet 3DFX graphics including motion captured polygonal players and real-time lightning. They’ve crafted beautiful 3D stadiums that are both accurate in dimension, and beautifully detailed. There are 38 stadiums in total, including San Francisco’s new Pacific Bell Ballpark, and two classic stadiums, Ebbets Field and the Polo Grounds. The sky textures are extremely well done. Whether you’re playing under the hot sun, or the glow of the moon, it’s very realistic. They even managed to capture the twilight sky with nice precision. The ground textures are also smooth and detailed. It’s obvious they spent a lot of time tweaking graphics that were absent in last year’s edition.

The players themselves are nicely rendered, but they still fall short of those in EA Sports’ Triple Play 2000. While they are motion captured and animated, they still lack individuality. You can’t tell one player apart from another besides the color of their skin and the jersey on their back. On top of that, Hispanic and Asian players’ skin tone are weak and really stand out. There’s also no size difference between players, so standing side by side, Mark McGwire and Cal Ripken look very similar. This is one area they could definitely improve on in the coming years.

The menu system in High Heat Baseball 2000 is very nice. A combination of pull-down and graphical menus make for an effective and easy-to-navigate system. There are five different modes to select from. Exhibition, Season, Career, Home Run Challenge and Playoffs. The career mode is the highlight of the package and far exceeds the career modes available in other baseball titles. Besides the normal array of features, the career mode includes a realistic aging curve, players retiring based on age and skill level, and new rookie prospects each new season. Not only do you handle your regular 25 man roster, but you’ll have a multi-layered farm system to handle as well. Triple A, Double A and Single A teams are all included, and players from those teams will develop as the season prolongs, allowing you to develop, recruit and trade players for the future. If one of your veterans retires at season’s end, you’ll have the choice to replace him with a number of different prospects in your system. While High Heat Baseball 2000 does feature all 1999 MLBPA player rosters and MLB team rosters, the farm system players are all fictional. Several promising rookies are not included in the game for those diehard simulation fans. Computer controlled teams aren’t just going to sit there either, they’ll be making moves just as you do, and an advanced AI allows the computer controlled teams to trade amongst each other, and even make offers to you. When it comes to season and career modes, High Heat Baseball has it all, except maybe a financial model, but I suppose that’s asking a little too much right now.

When I first started playing an actual game in High Heat Baseball 2000, I was very impressed. The flow of the game was smooth and realistic, I experienced absolutely no lag at any time during the game. They did a top notch job on the physics of the game. They also improved the gameplay quite a bit. They’ve introduced a new TruPitch technology that allows you to select from 9 different pitches and have a little more control with the location of your pitches. I’d still prefer to see a cursor method of control as seen in the Hardball series, but this was an improvement none the less. Hitting is the same as it’s always been. I suppose you shouldn’t fix what isn’t broken.

The fielding aspect of the game has been improved as well. Once again, the TruPlay technology has been used to create a more true-to-life fielding experience. Fielders can dive, slide, roll and jump in order to field the ball. Base running has also been improved a bit, and is especially noticeable in run downs. Rather then players stopping on a dime and making a perfect 180 degree turn to retrieve back to their base, players will actually dig in and lose a little momentum before attempting to return to the bag. These little added touches are what separate the pretenders from the contenders, and High Heat Baseball 2000 does a great job.

More cameras are implemented in High Heat Baseball 2000, creating a broadcast type feel for the game. There are a half dozen different camera angles to choose from when fielding, pitching or hitting. The replay feature offers a dynamic camera that allows you to view the replay from anywhere on the field. Other features in gameplay include a ‘Guess Pitch’ option. When this option is activated, players can attempt to guess what pitch the pitcher is throwing. If they guess correctly, they’ll have a better success rate when trying to hit the pitch. If they guess wrong, their chances decrease. When games are completed, statistical box scores are presented that are unmatched in any other baseball title. You’ll be able to track dozens upon dozens of different stats based on these reports.

High Heat Baseball 2000 isn’t without its faults though. The major gripe I have with the game is the extremely poor way they handled roster changes during the game. When you want to change your pitcher, bring in a pitch hitter/runner, or make a positional substitution, you have to bring up a series of menus that take you out of the game. After you’ve made your change, it has to re-load the game. It might not sound like much, but it’s a pain none the less and it should have been made more fluent. Simulating games is also a tedious affair. While it does manage to simulate games with a lot more accuracy then say Triple Play 2000, it also takes a heck of a lot longer.

High Heat Baseball 2000 features Ted Robinson as your play-by-play commentator. San Francisco Giants fans will know his voice well. The commentary is very well done. It’s well timed and features a nice variety of comments. It doesn’t lag the game much, although it tends to lag it at the beginning of each game. Once you get through the first batter though, it seems to run smoothly. Besides the commentary from the press box, you’ll also get the occasional heckler hassling you. In the background, you can hear the stadium announcer announce each player as they get to the plate. Crowd effects and field effects are your average expected noises. The game also sports some music in and outside of the game. I wasn’t particularly impressed with the music though, it could have been a little better.

It all sounds good so far, but what about multiplayer? Well, baseball fans will be happy to know they’ve improved the multiplayer speed. Supported connections include head-to-head via LAN, modem or the Internet. I played a couple of games on my trusty 56k modem, and I experienced only a little lag during the actual gameplay. There does seem to be a bit of lag between innings as the camera pans around the stadium, but the gameplay is minimally effected.

Baseball fans can rejoice now that High Heat Baseball 2000 has hit the field. It’s highly immersive and incredibly realistic. It’s the cleanup hitter, the ace of the rotation, it’s simply the best baseball game available for the PC. I suppose that’s jumping the gun a little, since a number of baseball titles are still yet to come, but it’ll take a Sammy Sosa’esque swing to catch this heater.


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