Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Release Date: 02/09/02 | Genre: Sports
I spent last summer trying to figure out how to get the computer to trade me Jason Giambi without my having to give up Arod and half my AAA prospects. I am, of course, referring to the PC version of High Heat 2002. That game was easily the finest baseball title I've ever played and worthy of all praise it received. This year I decided to give the PS2 version a chance to win my loyalty.
The hardest part of doing this review is not constantly comparing this version of HH2003 with last season's amazing PC release. Therefore, I'm going to come right out and admit up front that this game is not even close to the quality product I previously reviewed. This game has its own identity though. So I'll try to concentrate on shedding light on that identity.
If you're not familiar with the High Heat franchise then you probably don't like baseball games anyway. 3DO has spent several seasons now fine-tuning what has become a perennial contender for the title of best baseball game available. On the PS2, that's become a competitive field.
Graphically, High Heat has all the goods. Detailed stadiums that closely resemble their real life counterparts help you feel like you're in the "bigs." Lifelike player models add to the realism by bringing to life all your favorites, such as Jeter, Griffey, or Chipper. Small touches like diving fielders or nimble infielders turning two afford you a sense of accomplishment when you make a tough play look routine. The graphics are strong, but more or less what you expect from a next-gen console.
The sounds of the game are certainly all there as well. Crowd chatter is appropriate, and includes some light heckling. The satisfying crack of the bat as you turn on a 2-1 fastball and rip it down the line is perfect. As is the enthusiastic "Safe" call from the ump as you slide into second on a steal attempt.
Gameplay is top notch and precisely what you've come to expect from the folks at 3DO. Control of fielders is smooth and hitting the cutoff man (a problem with the PC game) is very simple. Pitching menus are on display for you and help insure that you are always in control. Hitting is a piece of cake and base running is more or less industry standard. Mastering the controls will be no problem for any gaming vets.
The options are extensive for a console baseball game and compliment the game quite nicely. You can select everything from ball tracers to whether or not you want to have to warm up pitchers before you bring them into the game. You can also decide how much influence the player's (your) skill has on the outcome of plays. This is a handy option showing up in more and more sports games. What it essentially allows you to do is decide if you want a more sim-like game or one that has more of an arcade feel.
All of this adds up to a pretty great game, right? Absolutely! In fact, if I hadn't played the PC version last year I would probably laud this as the best game I've played. However, I can't honestly make that claim. It's a great game that offers plenty of good baseball action for players of all tastes. But for the truly discerning fan, it just isn't quite enough to shell out the big bucks for. High Heat is a definite "rental only" in my book. Good enough for a rainy weekend or perhaps when you're Jonesin' for some baseball. But if you've got a computer (How are you reading this if you don't?) let this one pass. Confucius say, a solid B and no more.