Over the last month, I've had the opportunity to play a number of
baseball titles including Triple Play 2001 High Heat Baseball 2001,
Microsoft Baseball 2001 and even a little known managerial game
entitled Out of the Park 2. I've been able to compare, contrast and
dissect each of those titles and I've come to a pretty concrete
conclusion. I've realized that of all the EA Sports titles out there,
the Triple Play series has become one of their worst entities.
They've really got some work cut out for them if they hope to keep
up with the pack because right now, they're striking out badly.
Triple Play 2001 is by no means a realistic baseball simulation. If
you're looking for true-to-life physics, accurate statistics and
impeccable manager options, Triple Play just won't fill your lineup
card. If you're looking for an over-the-top arcade style baseball
game, I still have a hard time recommending Triple Play 2001
simply because there's very little difference between the 2000
edition and this new one. Every year, without fail, EA Sports cranks
out yet another in their series of sports titles, but Triple Play is by
far their worst effort. Year in and year out there is relatively little
change and the 2001 edition is no different.
There aren't many highlights in Triple Play 2001, but we'll touch on
those first. There is one thing that EA Sports does best across each
of their sporting titles and that's presentation. The visual
department continues to shine above the crowd with their
incredible level of detail. Triple Play 2001 is the first in the series
that supports resolutions higher than 800x600. The end result is
spectacular to look at. Field and stadium textures are bright and
alive while player textures are as detailed as ever. You'll have no
problem distinguishing your favourite ball players by their body
type and facial likeness. Everything within the field of play looks
tremendous. Animations are also present outside of the field of
play, as flags wave and fountains flow in the background. The only
gripe in terms of graphics is environmental objects in the far
distance as well as the actual crowds. 2D sprites continue to be
used and when you make a catch at the outfield wall, or behind
the plate, it is extremely noticeable. That aside, only Microsoft
Baseball 2001 rivals the visuals in Triple Play 2001.
Hand in hand with the visuals, the audio in Triple Play 2001 is
spectacular, particularly the play-by-play. Once again Jim Hughson
and Buck Martinez return to provide their take on the game and it's
by far the most varied commentary available. Although somewhat
generic in comments, their voices seem lively and attentive.
Outside of the play by play, the rest of the sound effects are strong.
Whether it be the comical advertisements, the sounds of baseball
or the musical interludes, it's all crisp and convincing.
Ok, so Triple Play 2001 looks and sounds good, but how is the
actual gameplay? This is basically where the entire game falls
apart. Triple Play 2001 is extremely over-the-top. Hits occur on a
regular basis and homers are hit frequently. The home run record
is in no way safe in Triple Play 2001. No matter what level of
difficulty you choose to play at, hitting the ball is extremely easy to
do. Emphasis has obviously been put on action and although it can
be entertaining the first few games, it can be quite annoying
playing such high-flying games on a regular basis. The
batter-pitcher confrontation remains the same, with the pitcher
selecting from his assortment of pitches while the batter chooses
whether to make contact, bunt, or swing for the fences. Why one
wouldn't swing for the fences at all times is beyond me, unless
you've got Craig Grebeck at the plate.
The lack of realism at the plate translates to the field as well.
There seems to be a number of bugs that result in gameplay
glitches that are extremely frustrating. Runners will attempt to
steal bases without your permission. It doesn't seem as though the
computer knows how to tag up properly either. Besides the home
run power many players possess, just as many possess
superhuman arms. I've had outfielders throw strikes to the plate
from the outfield wall in time to catch players well off guard. I
never knew Shannon Stewart had such a cannon for an arm and I
watch him play on a daily basis up here.
Obviously EA Sports has decided to go with an extreme baseball
experience, as seen in their Extreme Big League Challenge. You
can go one-on-one in a homerun derby with a number of Hall of
Famers. If you wish, you can have a variety of targets placed
beyond the outfield walls that offer bonus points if you can strike
them. When I first stepped up to the plate, I couldn't believe my
eyes. The outfield was filled with monkey crap! I'm sure some
players will enjoy this contest, but I couldn't stand it. I was out of
that mode faster than (insert your own joke here). I'm assuming the
EA folks were hammered when they came up with some of the
ideas found within Triple Play 2001. The Living Room Stadium?
Who with the what now? My lord, what have they done to
America's favourite pastime?!?
Triple Play 2001 offers several unique and re-hashed features. The
ability to create your ideal player has been enhanced to include
signature batting and pitching styles. The home run tournament
now includes three modes to choose from: Tournament,
One-on-One and Extreme. Legendary Hall of Famers the likes of
Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth, have been added to
the game. A new camera angle that gives you the outfielder's
perspective on balls hit to the outfield (an angle that is extremely
difficult to use when fielding the ball, but quite useful when
running the bases). Finally, special awards, as seen in Madden
Football, have been added in that allow you to unlock such
options as special teams, unique stadiums and player power-ups.
Player Power-ups? Only in Triple Play 2001.
I'm really not going to touch on the multiplayer available in Triple
Play because if there's one thing EA Sports has never been
successful with, it's multiplayer options. Was I surprised to learn
there was a patch released for online play only days after the
release of the game? Not particularly. Perhaps EA Sports should
focus a little less on visuals and audio and concentrate more on
gameplay and multiplayer features in the future.
Player power-ups and targets the size of Jennifer Lopez's ass located just past the
outfield wall! Oh that's right, if it's in the game, it's in the
game! That's one slogan down the drain. Are you in the market for
an over-the-top arcade baseball experience? The Triple Play
series is probably right up your alley then, although I can't find
many reasons to justify the 2001 edition over the 2000 edition. If it's
a realistic baseball experience you're looking for then allow me to
point you in the direction of High Heat Baseball 2001 and Microsoft
Baseball 2001, you'll have better luck finding a real baseball game
in those two titles.