Triple Play 2002 Review (Xbox)
Ugh. I really try hard to give a game a fair try before I do a review, but Triple Play 2002 put my patience to the test. No one element of the game is horrendously bad, but when you add it all up, this game lacks fun and depth. You may have moments of fun, but the feeling that most of it is scripted, will ruin most of the fun. The biggest factor against TP is that there is nothing that it does, that isn’t done better by another game on the market. Oh wait, except for foul balls, the foul balls animations are awesome, they look great.
No depth. If you have played previous versions of TP, you will quickly figure out most of the necessary strategies. While pitching on Pro, work the perimeter of the strike zone and you will end up with a multitude of the popups and weak ground outs. I was getting whacked on All-Star using this same strategy until I realized that I should almost never throw a strike in order to get someone out. Throw a strike on All-Star and it will get hit hard somewhere, sorry but this is just not baseball. Strikes will be missed, popped up, grounded weakly and sometimes ripped. All pitching strategy is removed from the game when you are punished for throwing strikes.
Hitting is pretty easy on Pro, with many homeruns. I hit at least 4 or 5 a game in the first few games I played on Pro. On the plus side the ball is easy to pick up and the pitches do look different. However, what type of pitch it is doesn’t really matter that much, just place your cursor where the pitch indicator is and swing when the ball enters the middle. Hitting is tougher on All-Star, but the main problem is that there is no guessing game going on between pitcher and hitter, again line up the cursor and swing away. At the All-Star level the pitches seem to move out of the center of the cursor more often, but you will still hit the ball most times. There is very little risk of striking out, even on the All-Star level with minimal playing time put in.
Fielding is different than High Heat or ASB where you hit a button to throw to the corresponding base. In TP you use the directional button or just hit A for easy throw. Unfortunately the A button doesn’t always throw to where you would like and throwing is not very responsive. You can also use the right analog stick to throw by pointing it in the direction of the base. After some practice this method works pretty well, with some problems due to pressure sensitivity and responsiveness.
Catching the ball just feels awkward. It is not very difficult once you get used to fly balls landing 1 inch to the side or back of you. In the outfield I rarely got to a flyball. In the infield, play was a little better, some of the times it was actually good. Something is just not quite right over all in the field. Could be lack of control or a lack of interest in playing this game enough to master fielding.
CPU baserunning is pretty bad, similar to ASB in that they don’t take the extra base when they should and they aren’t aggressive or smart enough to get extra base hits. So you end up with game with a lot of singles and some homeruns. Baserunning for the user controlled team is kind of odd, no where that I could find, did it give you the option to either manually or automatically control your baserunner. You end up with the CPU controlling your runners quite a bit and when you try to override them they don’t always respond the way you would like. You will run into the same problems as the CPU, you will not score often from second on a single or go from first to third on a single. If you try to advance your runner, you end up getting thrown out by quite a bit. You could get used to this and become an efficient baserunner but I think the major problem lies with the speed the ball gets to the outfielders. I also may be up in the night, but I thought the baserunning was better on the Pro Setting than the All-Star.
Well the AI in this game is on par with the movie AI. It isn’t very good. If you played TP before, you know that pitching changes are not always done with much rhyme or reason. The CPU will still throw to the wrong base at times and definitely won’t take advantage of you on the bases, if you throw to the wrong man.
The hitting and pitching interface is weak, if you are looking for baseball like strategy, the pitch speed and type just are not there. As purely a video game interface, the pitching and hitting interface is well done, so if you are a casual fan or have young kids you may enjoy this element of the game.
The player models still kind of squat and the only thing that looks good are the stadiums and cut scenes. Even they are not anything special and certainly won’t help you enjoy this game. They just irritated me that they put time into their scenario big moment cut scenes and so little time into the rest of the game.
The animations are a little better than last year in that the fielders will actually move to catch a ball, whereas last year it just seemed like everything was hit to the fielder and they basically just stuck out their glove. I was very disappointed in the overall quality of this X-box title, the animations were jumping and not very fluid. Not usually a big deal to me but when the gameplay offers so little you at least hope that EA will come through in the one area that they usually excel.
PRESENTATION AND SOUND
One of the stronger points of the game is the presentation. It looks pretty good and shows off the colorful stadiums. They fall short in the graphic overlays department, baseball is all about stats and they need to show more during the game. I think possibly the most annoying thing about this game is the end of the game box scores. They don’t show you much, you won’t be able to see who got a double, triple or Home run. This is a huge oversight.
Bob Costas and Harold Reynolds prove that even big names can’t save a poor game. Nothing is really wrong with Costas’ play by play, it’s off on occasion but no worse than most games. The problem is Harold Reynolds and Bob seem to be at different games, Reynolds gets very excited at the wrong times and says things that are totally unrelated to what Costas just said.
Well, they have a Homerun Derby but it is probably one of the more boring efforts by EA in recent years. You can create a player but the depth of options that exist in ASB and even High Heat are nonexistent. No Franchise or Expansion mode, although you can control more than one team in a season.
Triple Play 2002 is not fun. If you are looking for a baseball game that involves any thought process more complicated than, “throw the ball, hit the ball”, I suggest you look elsewhere. It really doesn’t deliver in any one area and makes for a sub par gaming experience.