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World Series Baseball 2k3


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#1 TGD

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Posted 18 October 2003 - 11:44 AM

TITLE: World Series Baseball 2k3
PUBLISHER: Sega Sports
DEVELOPER: Visual Concepts
DATE RELEASED: 03/10/2003



Any sports fanatic knows that a good sports videogame is hard to put down. World Series Baseball 2k3 is that kind of sports title.

I have had many hours of play with this title by now and it still has me coming back for more. When i first got this game i simulated a few seasons to see how realistic and accurate the stats were at the end of the season and I found that indeed the stats did live up to the real life stats. I believe that this is one of the hardest things for baseball videogames to accomplish. The average joe may not appreciate the importance of stats are to a sports gamers, however for any true sports fanatic, stats are one of the key factors in a good sports game. Heck i still remember the old days where i use to write down my videogame stats with a pad and pen.

Gameplay/Modes

Gameplay is fine tuned this year, much much better then last year. Not to say that last year's effort sucked, but it had holes and some major bugs. Sega/Visual Concepts have however appeared to fix many of these issues in this release. No longer is there stupid AI, it is both smart and aggressive. Also been fixed is the ability to jump walls to snag homers off the wall which is definitely nice. Another improvement is the overall feel of smoothness in the game. If you played ASB or even last years WSB there was a feeling of everything not flowing on the same level; this is no longer the case, this game plays and feels like a dream in all departments

Double plays are fun to execute and the base runner is easy to control as well as playing the field. The ball park field isn't HUGE like in ASB, it just seems perfect and accurate for players to move around and make important plays when needed. Like i said, the game feels polished this time and what a joy it is to play.

Last years effort was a good one but unintelligent AI hampered the overall fun of WSB. This year the AI is I'm glad to say both agressive, and intelligent! I almost wet my pants when I saw the computer controlled base runner that was on 2nd base try to slide and make it home from a blooper up the middle into shallow center field. What was even more impressive is the base runner slammed into my catcher as soon as I threw the ball to home plate! Of course my catcher hung on or I would of benched him!

Another example of the AI is when I had Bonds up at bat with a man on first and second. The pitcher throws two outside balls to Bonds then intentionally walked Barry Bonds to set up a force out on all bases in the 8th Inning. Any baseball fan knows that this is how you deal with this type of situation in baseball and the computer AI knew this. This to me was amazing and I've never seen such AI in a baseball video game before.

Leave it to Sega to drop the bomb on features! Not that WSB has the most features of all the baseball titles out this year but the in-depth Francise mode is amazing. Tons of General Manager decisions are needed to be made by you along with hiring the correct coaches, etc. I really felt like I was running a baseball club by making all these decisions and trades.

Home Run Derby plain rocks and the commentary in the derby sounds spot on and fun to hear. Its very exciting to play when you have time on your hands, putting up certain sluggers with other sluggers is always fun to play.

Sadly, no online play was put into this years title and i have no idea why. Hopefully next year it will be intact because this game is well polished and it would be a dream to play online. I was very sad to see no Live enabled play with this years edition.

Graphics/Presentation

Graphics aren't the most important thing in videogames to some. Last years game almost made my mouth drop but this years' version is even better. Self shadowing is much better as is the crispness of the graphics but one thing I wish all sports games start focusing on this are the crowds. In this game, finally, the crowds look good. If you have played sports games then you know the crowds always look dull or bland but this year in WSB they look great maybe not astounding but they do the job well.

Another thing I notice is that the players look a bit better proportioned. This kind of makes me feel better seeing some players actually look like their real counterparts. I hate seeing Frank Thomas come up to bat when he looks skinny when he should be tall and filled out. All the major players were well rendered and look like their real life counterpart.

The stadiums are detailed and look awesome and everything is done down to the last tree, building, etc. It is both accurate and polished. There is even some animation in the stadiums this year around which is sweet because no other baseball game has done this and it sure is a welcome sight to see.

Animations is where Sega excels and they have done a fantastic job with their player animations in this years effort. No longer do you see any choppiness or out of place animations like before. The first base coach will actually dodge a foul ball headed towards him which I thought was kick ass. Along with a ton of new animations some of the last years animations are in this years' game again which I don't have a problem with since the more animations the better the game looks and feels. Some of the double play animations are sweet. There are some odd looking swing animations though..dont know what happened here because everthing else looks fantstic but sometimes the reply's of home runs show the batter swinging way off the ball and looks quite strange. Its not big grip but sorta wierd looking.

Finally the good old behind the picture view is back. This was my favorite view back in the day and Visual Concepts brought this camera view back. Its really nice to use because you get a good feel during the pitcher vs batter battle. I love it and it just feels so perfect in this game.

The ESPN license is put to use in WSB2k3 but not as well as the newer ESPN titles like ESPN NFL Football and ESPN NHL Hockey but this will change next year, this im sure of. This game came out before the NFL and NHL titles so i believe Sega Sports and Visual Concepts now have a good feel in how to use the ESPN license after seeing how well the made use of it in their recent titles of NFL and NHL.

Sound/Commentary

Commentary makes any sports game come to life and NFL2k3 had great commentary and really made you feel part of the game. WSB2k3 comes in a close 2nd place to ESPN NFL Football 2k4 in terms of colorful commentary and keeps the action alive, just like it should. Crowd hecklers are present as well. Sometimes you'll hear people in the crowd yell out specific remarks towards individual players which I think is a cool little touch. The sound of baseball bats hitting the ball sound good along with all the other normal sounds you hear in the game. Overall, no gripes here about sound. One thing that was weird were the homeruns made by the home team in their home stadium....the crowds just dont seem to cheer loud and long enough when a player hits the long ball out of the park in their own stadium.

Final Thoughts

WSB2k3 has improved big time over last years' effort. Tons of bugs and issues are no more and what was a good game just got so much better. This is mainly thanks to Sega/Visual Concepts effort in fine-tuning an already stellar game. Franchise mode is so in-depth and solid that this alone makes tons of replay value and will keep you busy long after baseball season is over.

Does no online mode ruin this game? Definitely not. This game just plain rocks and im not exaggerating when I say this. World Series Baseball 2K3 is a well tuned and a polished game that looks visually stunning. Any baseball fan will enjoy this.

Positives:
- Sweet Graphics and Animations
- Polished gameplay
- In-depth franchise mode

Negatives:
- No Online Play
- Homerun cheers and excitement is lacking
- Some odd swing animations here and there

Score: 9.0

Review by TGD

Edited by TGD, 19 October 2003 - 02:34 AM.


#2 JaggedChild04

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Posted 18 October 2003 - 10:32 PM

great review. very detailed. cheers to the good writing.




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