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   PlanetDreamcast | Games | Reviews | World Series Baseball 2K1
    World Series Baseball 2K1
No! Balls! and two! Strikes! - Review By Mr. Domino

World Series Baseball 2K1 Logo I used to play Little League. I wasn't really good, and one doesn't really appreciate that statement until the person finds out I was on the D team. Still, so what? I enjoyed playing the game, and that's all that matters. Right? Right. Having lost the ability to suck on the field, I began playing baseball video games to recapture the fun of the sport without having to assemble some two dozen other people to play with me. There was Homerun on the Atari 2600, various games on the NES such as RBI Baseball and Baseball Stars, the World Series Baseball games on the Genesis and Saturn, and now, at last, World Series Baseball 2K1.

WSB2K1 promises everything a baseball fan could want from a video game incarnation of hardball: MLB endorsement, all current players and parks, realistic graphics, real commentary, a full season, and other goodies. After playing the arcade World Series '99 and experience with prior Sega baseball games, particularly the superb World Series Baseball '98, I was expecting the options and season of '98 with the graphics of '99. In some respects my expectations were met, in others....

But first, a note for those who think Triple Play is the only game in town: you need to start playing a REAL baseball game. Triple Play, like so many other titles, is still using the same outdated engine seen way back in Jaleco's Bases Loaded for the NES. Sega's World Series Baseball series has (mostly) been been about creating a true-to-life, realistic video game presentation of the sport that is baseball. This is where the series shines, and so I went into WSB2K1 with high hopes.

  • The Good

    The play mechanics of the batter/pitcher duel are excellent.
    When Sega released World Series Baseball '95 for the Sega Genesis, it revolutionized the standard, ho-hum batting and pitching game. No longer could batters swing and hit every pitch with the tap of a button. No longer did pitchers have all of their technique ruined by a far too simplistic batting system. World Series Baseball '95 instituted a batter's box and cursor system, requiring batters to swing and connect to the ball for a hit. It was genius. Instead of the "Insta-Hit" system which plagued all prior baseball games, players had to move a cursor over the plate where the batter anticipated the pitch to land. It was better. It was real.

    Oddly enough, no other baseball games have made any attempt to copy this system, staying with the tried and true (and boring and unrealistic) swing and hit system. Thankfully, WSB2K1 keeps the innovative batting system and improves upon it with analog control. Not only does the Dreamcast's analog controller allow for greater precision when lining up a hit, it also allows you to control the strength of each hit. If it sounds complex, that's because it is. Those not familiar with the batting system from earlier Sega baseball games will have trouble simply hitting the ball and may become frustrated as a result. Like any game, practice makes perfect, and after a couple of plays gamers should begin to grasp and enjoy the batting system. After all, even great hitters like Mark Grace aren't guaranteed home runs with every bat.

    The stadiums look nothing short of fantastic.
    Although the pitching system is basically the same as in most games, the improved batting game gives much more weight to the pitcher's decision before releasing the ball. Aim a direction and press the button for the type of pitch, and then adjust the position and power of the pitch while the pitcher goes into his windup. It takes a bit of skill to get the ball over the plate without just feeding the batter the ball. You also get a real sense of what it is to be facing a truly great pitcher. Cover boy Pedro Martinez is FAST -- so fast that getting a hit on him requires a steady hand and lightning fast reflexes, just as it should. Going up against a side arm pitcher such as Kellie Wunsch is also deadly, in that it's difficult to judge the position of the ball before it's too late.

    The batter and pitcher duel in WSB2K1 is the best out there, and make it a joy to play as well as look at. Players move convincingly and look like their real-life counterparts, with more than enough superfluous animations to make the game feel like you're really there. All the Major League clubs are in the game and realistically modeled with both day and night versions of their parks and stadiums. Each and every player has been realistically modeled from this year's roster, with their batting stances and individual characteristics intact. However, with the players and fields looking all shiny and hi-res like, the poorly animated and drawn crowds really stick out like a sore thumb. Although the arcade World Series '99's crowds weren't anything to write home about either, they were positioned far enough from the camera so as not to clash too much with the rest of the graphics. Each time your batter goes to the plate, you're treated to a close, great looking warm up... and the ugly looking, heavily outlined "crowd background." It just clashes, but that's just a minor nuisance in light of the game's otherwise amazing visual display.

    Next: The Bad and The Final Word

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