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Game Profile
FINAL SCORES
8.0
Visuals
9.5
Audio
8.5
Gameplay
7.5
Features
8.0
Replay
7.5
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
Xbox
PUBLISHER:
Acclaim
DEVELOPER:
Acclaim Austin
GENRE: Sports
PLAYERS:   1-4
RELEASE DATE:
February 23, 2003
ESRB RATING:
Everyone
IN THE SERIES
All-Star Baseball 2005

All-Star Baseball 2005

All-Star Baseball 2004

All-Star Baseball 2004

All-Star Baseball 2003

More in this Series
 Written by Alex Fitzgerald  on April 09, 2003

Full Review: Right now it's 11:30 at night. I'm on my third coke, my fourth bag of chips, and now my radio is playing some whacked-out kind of dating radio show. Make your own Smart Ass Comment. I'm too tired [Ed.- Alex is too dedicated for his own good.]


The All-Star Baseball franchise has always been a serious contender in the baseball game genre. In fact, back in those dark days of World Series Baseball 2001 and the message from hell we've come to call "Triple Play Baseball," it could of been argued that All-Star Baseball was the best the baseball genre had to offer. Now though, with the World Series Baseball franchise being dramatically improved, the Triple Play franchise wiped off the face of the Earth (replaced by EA's newer and much better franchise MVP Baseball), and the arrival of new contenders High Heat Baseball and Slugfest, the question arises - does All-Star Baseball still have what it takes to compete?

In the realm of baseball video games gameplay is key and ASB delivers the goods in this department. The pitching interface is awesome, giving you complete control over what pitch will be thrown and where, and with 23 different types of pitches that you can throw (well, 23 in the game, not for every pitcher) there's a great deal more strategy in ASB's pitching compared to other games. There's also an intentional walk feature and a beanball feature...so now Seattle fans can give Alex Rodriguez what he deserves.

Fielding is also a top-notch feature in ASB 2004. The game's controls provide for you to do tag outs and throws easily, and allows for you to easily do much smaller things, like being able to pick between if you want to throw to a cut-off man or not. There are a few flaws though in ASB 2004's fielding. For one thing, when you go to catch a fly ball, instead of the ball's grossly oversized shadow (which shows you where the ball is going to land) getting smaller as it draws nearer to the ground the shadow just stays the same size, making it so you never know how high the ball is off the ground. The game will also default to fielders who are no where near the ball sometimes, which can get to be quite frustrating, and finally the game doesn't allow you to control dives.

If there's one facet of the gameplay that needs to be totally rebuilt for the next year's edition of ASB it's the batting interface. Even though the game lets you pick between a wide variety of batting cursor styles, none of them really work well, as they all make it either overwhelmingly easy to hit the ball or cuss-happy hard.

Of course, all this baseball gaming goodness needs to be channeled into some game modes, and fortunately for us ASB 2004 has delivered here as well. The regular season and franchise modes are very deep, and extra modes like the excellent scenario mode (where you're put into various baseball situations) is well done and provides a nice break from all the core baseball action. Finally, the points system that you use to get secrets is also a nice addition, and provides more than ample motivation to keep going in the game. If there's one thing wrong with ASB 2004's modes it's that it's impossible to find statistics in any of them, which is a big bummer for statistic buffs (or anyone who just wants to study the competition).

There's also a bunch of smaller things to be found in ASB 2004 that make the game better. For example, between innings you'll sometimes get to play baseball trivia, which will award you extra game points if you get the answer right. Or there's also how the pitchers have a meter that tells you how much energy they have left. ASB 2004 also allows gamers to save their games between innings, which is great for those who don't want to restart a whole game when they have to run somewhere, but it also allows for abuse (being able to replay bad innings).

Where ASB 2004 stands out compared to all the rest of this year's baseball games is in graphics. To describe them in one word - AWESOME! Everything about the game's graphics is top-notch. The stadiums and player models look very reminiscent to their real-life counterparts down to the smallest detail, and the animations for the players being modeled are also just as well defined. The crowd animations are quite the visual treat too, looking almost spooky real. Sound effects for the game are also quite good, as everything from the crack of the bat to the screams of the fans sounds quite realistic.

Bottom Line
Though ASB 2004 is a solid offering from Acclaim, the game's lack of a good batting cursor really brings the rest of the game down. Now, instead of being the must own baseball game of 2004, the game is instead just a runner-up to the likes of High Heat and MVP [Ed.- And don't forget World Series Baseball 2K3.]. If you're a huge baseball game nut go ahead and check out this game, but everybody else should check out other baseball games.


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