Game Over Online ~ Microsoft Baseball 2001

GameOver Game Reviews - Microsoft Baseball 2001 (c) Microsoft, Reviewed by - Jimmy Clydesdale

Game & Publisher Microsoft Baseball 2001 (c) Microsoft
System Requirements Pentium 166, 32MB Ram, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 65%
Date Published Wednesday, April 19th, 2000 at 03:15 PM

Divider Left By: Jimmy Clydesdale Divider Right

The 2000 baseball season is underway and so far we've seen a pair of baseball titles step up to the plate this year. Leading off was 3DO's Sammy Sosa High Heat Baseball 2001, which promptly nailed a triple off the centre field wall with its accurate and immersive baseball experience. High Heat 2001 later scored on a bug… errr, wild pitch. Next up was EA Sports' Triple Play 2001, which quickly struck out looking with its over-the-top arcade style play that offered little over its previous at bats. So now, batting third, it's Microsoft Baseball 2001. Let's Play Ball!

As Microsoft Baseball 2001 walks from the dugout to the batter's box, it brings with it a lot of hype and potential. For starters, its endorsed by Boston Red Sox superstar Nomar Garciaparra. It features all the necessary MLB licenses, including all MLB teams, stadiums, players, and likeness. Last but not least, it boasts Baseball Mogul technology, allowing the ability to manage teams, players' careers over multiple seasons and control over a team's finances. Let's find out if Microsoft Baseball 2001 can translate this potential into a stellar performance.

The pitcher winds and delivers the pitch. Microsoft swings and nails it! This could be gone if it stays fair. It's slicing, slicing, foul! That's too bad. The count is 0-1.

  • So much for Mogul technology. The managerial options are implemented poorly with several Mogul features absent from the title altogether. For starters, finances are not managed in terms of cash value, but rather point value. In other words, you might be paying Carlos Delgado 56 points a year over 4 years. Sure, you can imagine that's 5.6 million dollars a year, but it's just not the same. You can negotiate contracts, make trades, adjust ticket prices and other such options, but the overall effect is less than dramatic. While certain teams have more money at their disposal, MS Baseball 2001 doesn't really take small market teams into effect. At the end of the year I was able to resign both Dustin Hermanson and Ugeth Urbina while managing the Montreal Expos. It came time to re-sign those free agents and I was automatically able to sign them to new deals. Ok, I suppose that's possible, but why every other team decided to let go of all their free agents is beyond me. To top things off, I was able to sign Roberto Alomar, Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams with absolutely no difficulty. Why any or all of those players would jump at the opportunity to play for my Expos is beyond me, let alone the reason why they didn't re-sign with their respective clubs. It just wouldn't happen in real life, which puts an end to that realistic aspect of MS Baseball 2001. The computer doesn't manage opposing teams well at all. The icing on the cake comes when you realize that simulated games don't produce box scores. That's right, you have no way of knowing how well your players do on auto-played games. As if that wasn't enough, there's also no way of knowing what other teams do in terms of transactions, any kind of news page is absent altogether.
  • Tough foul ball, talk about a missed opportunity. The pitcher sets in again, winds and delivers the next pitch. Microsoft takes the pitch low and away, ball one. The count is now 1-1.

  • When it comes to audio, Microsoft Baseball 2001 seems content with producing the basics. Play-by-play and commentary is produced by Arizona Diamondback announcer Thom Brennaman. They've done a decent job ensuring there's a variety of comments throughout the game, but it falls well short of the dramatic commentary found in Triple Play 2001. It's certainly better than the muffled High Heat commentary, but it didn't seem as though Brennaman was really into the game. MS Baseball 2001 is also rather void of music during the game. Besides the seventh inning stretch, the tunes are absent during the game. Outside of the game, you'll hear the usual menu-based music, but I tend to turn that off considering I like to spend time browsing stats and such. In terms of sound effects, the usual assortment of bells and whistles are available during the game. Fan reaction and in-game effects such as the bat striking the ball are all present, but just don't come across like they should. When you get hit with a 95 mph fastball, you should feel that and I just didn't here.
  • Here's the 1-1 pitch. Microsoft swings and sends a rocket down the third base line, this could be extra bases!

  • Graphically, Microsoft has done an excellent job. If there's one things Microsoft has been able to do well with their sports titles, it's provide fluent animation and real-life likeness. Those features are present in MS Baseball 2001 as all the big name players look exactly like their real-life counterparts. The level of detail is incredible. Not only are player textures well done but the stadiums are much improved over recent years. Microsoft Baseball 2001 features arguably the best graphics in a baseball title. High levels of detail are also noticeable in player movements and animations. Motion capture has been used to make sure that all movements look as authentic as possible. Much like their NFL and NBA titles, player animation is one of the highlights of the game.
  • The ball rolls into the corner as Microsoft rounds first and heads for second base.

  • The gameplay in Microsoft Baseball 2001 is quite good. The physics engine is much improved over previous editions and the gameplay doesn't feel scripted at all, an issue that many High Heat fans have expressed concerns about. The camera angles are well implemented and the entire atmosphere is definitely there.
  • The right fielder throws the ball to the cut-off man as Microsoft rounds second base. The cut-off man quickly fires to second base as Microsoft scrambles back to the bag.

  • The gameplay isn't all good though, there are plenty of bugs that popped up during play that are inexcusable. Throwing errors occur far too frequently during a single game and the AI doesn't seem capable of discerning what an error actually is. If your outfielder misses the cut-off man, the computer counts that as an error, whether the baserunner advances or not. If the runner doesn't advance, where's the error? Minor glitches also popped up including an instance where I accidently had two runners caught on the same bag. It was a double steal gone wrong and I got caught in a rundown that resulted in both my runners standing at second base. However, the opposing team was unable to get any of my player's out despite the fact one of them was automatically out. It didn't record the out until I physically made one of them step off the bag, a move that I had to do in order to continue playing, although I thought long and hard how to avoid the out. Other minor glitches include the fact that stealing bases is literally impossible in MS Baseball 2001. In many ways, MS Baseball 2001 reminded me a lot of High Heat Baseball 2000 with its gameplay glitches. 3DO was able to eliminate most of those issues in their latest instalment and hopefully Microsoft will do the same with a patch. Perhaps after all that, Microsoft will think to include multiplayer in the next edition too.
  • The throw comes into second and Microsoft is called out. Oh my, that's a running error if I've ever seen one. That's too bad, hopefully Microsoft will be a little wiser the next time up at the plate. I'm sure the coach and manager aren't too concerned though, Microsoft Baseball 2001 certainly has more at bats coming in the future and besides, Microsoft's contract came fairly cheap. It's still unfortunate that the young kid hasn't lived up to his potential yet, but the future remains bright. Next batter, Play ball!

    [ 17/20 ] Graphics
    [ 10/15 ] Sound
    [ 18/30 ] Gameplay
    [ 13/20 ] Fun Factor
    [ 00/05 ] Multiplayer
    [ 07/10 ] Overall Impression


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