Last year was a real "wait till next year" year for Playstation owning baseball fans. All three of the baseball titles released (MLB 99, VR Baseball 99, and Triple Play 99) suffered from some or other flaw which kept it from being truly satisfying. Well, next year is here now with Triple Play 2000 (or TP 2K as I like to call it), the first of the PSX baseball games to wing its way to market. The question is, of course, "Will us poor baseball fans have a better campaign in 99?" Judging by Triple Play 2000 I'd have to say yes.
Triple Play 99 suffered from many flaws but the two most devastating were a stuttering frame rate which resulted in horrible control, and a lack of variety as far as hits were concerned- i.e. all you could hope for were a single up the middle or a homerun. One would expect EA to address these problems for this year's version, and I am happy to say that they have. This year the game runs at constant clip of 30 fps. Thus it is possible to field grounders, line drives and fly balls with relative ease. Which brings me to the second big improvement, namely that there are grounders, linedrives and flyballs to field. This year you can spray balls all over the field thanks to the ability to open and close your stance and move your batter around in the box. The result is a more realistic and enjoyable gaming experience.
As is the norm with EA Sports games, the sound design in TP 2K is excellent. Buck and Jim are back again this year to provide spot on commentary. And this year a series of special sounds- bloop and Three Stooges sounds for foulballs and, best of all, a monstrous thunder sound to accompany powerfully hit flyballs and homers (of which there are many).
Ah, but TP 2K is not perfect. Graphically the game is, well. . .underwhelming. Overall it feels like a step down from last years effort- the stadiums are rendered in near perfection and the players (thanks to good use of lighting affects) look more realistic then ever, but everything has a bit of the ragged grainies, if you know what I mean. Perhaps this was the price the developers had to pay in order to get the framerate up.
The slightly disappointing graphics are off set, slightly, by the vast number of dramatic camera angle cuts which occur during play. For example, if you have Sammy Sosa jack one on to Waveland Avenue you maybe treated to an instant replay of the swing from the catcher's viewpoint or from the ball's! The dynamic camera adds a lot of energy to the proceedings and makes connecting for a long ball all the more satisfying.
So, take the improved framerate, improved control, and stellar presentation, throw in a full fantasy draft (with salary cap), multiply season play and a good old fashion homerun derby and what do you get? A very satisfying baseball game, that's what. If you like baseball you should definitely give TP 2K a look. At this moment it is, overall, the best baseball game available for the Playstation.
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