There are some things that really are American. Hot Dogs, Statue of Liberty and of course baseball. Fortunately baseball is one of those sports that you can just pick up and play. Unlike NFL with hundreds of complex rules, baseball is a very simple game. Acclaim's All Star Baseball 2001 on the Nintendo 64 is apparently one of the best baseball games in recent years. The Playstation 2 version is highly anticipated by Americans and while it won't receive much attention here in Australia baseball fans should be extremely happy that it is coming out, especially with no other baseball games set for release here.
Thanks to the official Major League Baseball and Major League Baseball Players Association license All Star Baseball 2002 features all 30 Major League teams and over 700 players with life-like face textures for superb graphic detail. Acclaim have also recreated all 30 MLB stadiums complete with dugouts, bullpens, scoreboards, jumbotrons and unique stadium features such as the waterfalls at Kauffman Stadium in K.C. Fortunately Acclaim are including both a simplistic and complex batting system. The simplistic mode will just see you swing the bat while the complex mode will see you using the analogue stick to hit the ball in the air or in the ground. In pitching mode you will be able to map up to 6 different pitches to the buttons (out of a total of 16 different pitches in the game).
Game modes include Exhibition, Season, World Series, Home Run Derby, All-Star Play and Batting Practice. Most of these should be pretty obvious so no details are necessary. Following the season matches you will see the season awards like the MVP, Cy Young, Rookie Of The Year, and Gold Glove. One of the great aspects of this title is that absolutely everything in the ballpark is collision prone. The ball will bounce off foul polls, dugouts, walls and anything else in its way.
The graphics and animation of the players is amazing, especially considering the 60fps which the game runs at. The game includes 130 unique player-batting stances, 50 pitching deliveries, and over 1500 motion captured animations. While playing the game you will be amazed by the 7 different stadium camera angles to provide the most life like television broadcast coverage. Each player is apparently comprised of almost 5,000 polygons and is texture mapped. It's even possible to play with teams in their vintage uniforms giving the game an very unique look, and one which few people today would be accustomed to. The game is complemented with play-by-play and game analysis from Arizona Diamondback's Manager Bob Brenly, and his former national television partner, Thom Brennaman. With over 13,000 different sound files this game will be pretty exciting to listen to.
It's great to see Acclaim bring All Star Baseball 2002 to Australia. It's not a mainstream title, but if the game is as impressive as the surrounding screenshots and the previous N64 version then baseball fans will be overjoyed. With no other company scheduling a baseball game on the Playstation 2 this year this will be your only option. Fortunately, All Star Baseball 2002 looks like a winner.