Triple Play 2000

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EA Sports brings power baseball back for another season with Triple Play 2001. Major League Baseball (MLB) and MLBPA licenses give game players all the teams and players in the major leagues. For the first time in the Triple Play Series, Triple Play 2001 brings the legends of the game to the plate with the exclusive MLBPA Big League Challenge Mode. Baseball's storied history comes alive with legendary players such as Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, Cy Young, Jackie Robinson, and many more historical baseball legends. Step up to the plate and see if you can compete as or against the greatest home run batters of all time. Review Electronic Arts' Triple Play 99 was regarded by most critics as the premiere baseball simulation for the PlayStation. But most of those same critics (videogames.com included) will also tell you that the game suffered from problems ranging from a poor framerate to some sticky gameplay issues. These problems narrowed the appeal from fans of arcade-style baseball to those who could appreciate the game simply for the sport. EA has clearly addressed the graphic and gameplay issues in Triple Play 2000 and tried to make it more suitable for fans of arcade-style baseball games without losing too much of the simulation aspect. Some of the new features that add more of a fun feel to the game include sprinting for fielders and base runners. So, now, when you pound the X button, the players actually run faster. When fielding a hit, you now have the option to use a standard throw to ensure that the ball reaches its destination, or a power throw that propels the ball faster but with less accuracy. The batting has also been redone - it lets you swing under or over the pitch, so you can try for a pop-up or do your best to keep the ball on the ground. This selection is simply accomplished by either holding the up or down buttons when swinging the bat. You can also change the angle at which your batter faces the pitcher so you can pull the ball. Add all these new features to last year's standard/power-swing option, and you're looking at a whole lot of control over your batters. All this control also lets you adjust your batting style to the situation, try for base hits, sacrifice, or simply hit the ball as far as you possibly can. With all this in the game, you feel as if you win games for a reason, not just because you timed your swings better than your opponent did. Triple Play 2000 still includes all the usual options that you've come to expect from a fully licensed baseball game: real teams, real players, real stadiums, and MLB stats. You're given the choice of playing a season, single game, home-run challenge, or the playoffs. Rounding out the game's features is the ability to create and trade players. The sound effects and music of Triple Play 2000 add a bit of quirkiness and fun to the game. But since this year's game is presented in Dolby Surround, anyone with surround sound will be in for a treat. Sound effects, such as an over-exaggerated crack of the bat and the whoosh of the ball when you connect with a pitch, bounce flawlessly from one speaker to the next. I could have done without the slide whistle that sounds off nearly every time a foul ball is hit into the stands. I really enjoyed the two-man announce team last year, but this year the commentary seems a little drier. The announcing is generally good, though the game does have one or two phrases that are a bit on the amateur side, such as the all encompassing and extremely silly, "Play made!" Comments from the crowd like, "You're in the show, show me something" also add to the baseball atmosphere. But by far the most impressive audio element in the game is the little song excerpt that comes on when a home-team batter steps up to the plate. Visually, Triple Play 2000 is quite nice. The 3D stadiums are represented fairly accurately and the players look and move real enough. The most impressive visual aspect of the game is its animation. The players run, jump, and dive realistically. The framerate this year has been dramatically improved over last year's Triple Play, and the camera is also pretty sweet. You can set it at three different positions when batting and fielding. But in not-so-key moments (like after you've thrown the ball in from the outfield or when a ball in motion is bound to go foul or over the wall), the camera changes to a dramatic angle. These angles give the game a real broadcast baseball-game look. The angles also show off the game's facial animations: You'll see Mark McGwire jump up and down after he's launched one out of the park, or the mug of the not-so-happy pitcher who served him the fat pitch. When you take a look back and compare Triple Play 2000 with the previous Triple Play, there's really no question which one is better. At first, though, I did miss the serious simulation feel of Triple Play 99, and the quirky sound effects in TP2K made me unhappy. But then I put in Triple Play 99 and was quickly reminded of the low framerate, and then I thought those quirky sound effects in TP2K weren't all that bad. Overall, Triple Play 2000 is a welcome addition to the PlayStation baseball lineup that everyone, even those who weren't fans of previous Triple Play games, should check out. --Ryan Mac Donald --Copyright ©1999 GameSpot Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of GameSpot is prohibited. GameSpot and the GameSpot logo are trademarks of GameSpot Inc. -- GameSpot Review