Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Release Date: 05/07/01 | Genre: Sports
It's the afternoon. You're outside, patiently waiting in the field. Rain was predicted by the local weatherman, but there's not a dark cloud in sight. The sun is shining beautifully. Thousands of people gather around, enjoying popcorn, peanuts and over-priced drinks while they anxiously await the first pitch. Everything is picture-perfect. You hold your bat high, preparing to swing at just the right moment. The first pitch is made. The ball is flying towards you at record speed, yet everything appears to be moving in slow motion. You swing, hoping that fate isn't as cruel as they say. The ball is just about to hit your bat, when a familiar ringing noise fills your ears. Suddenly, the wonderful image of playing major league baseball disappears and you find yourself lying in bed, staring at the Mike Piazza poster on your wall. It's 9 AM and you've over slept. Now you have to get to work immediately, just so you can hear your boss complain about your lack of punctuality... again.
Reality bites, doesn't it? It certainly doesn't compare with that dream you just had. The thing is, you can't simply re-enter a good dream whenever you want to. When it's over, it's over for good. The closest you'll ever get to experiencing the magic of your dreams in the real world is by playing a next-generation video game. Gran Turismo 3 really sucks you into the race and Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty makes you feel like a spy, yet most sports games play identical to each other. That's because developers think that if they upgrade the graphics a little and ignore the rest, they can still label their game a next-gen product. That's why Sony decided to release its latest sports game, MLB 2002, on the PSone instead of the PlayStation 2. Sony felt that it was more important to concentrate on gameplay over graphics, and I couldn't be happier.
MLB 2002 packs quite a gameplay punch. 989 Sports developed more "intelligent" AI for the game, increasing the level difficulty quite a bit. This should please hardcore baseball fans a lot, as they'll have to work really hard if they want to hit a home run or throw the ball precisely enough to strike out their opponent.
The controls are solid, to say the least. Each button has too many functions to name them all, but the main controls for batting are Swing (X), Bunt (circle) and Move bat cursor (D-pad). The main controls for pitching are pretty basic as well; hit X, square, triangle or circle to select your pitch type, adjust the pitch location with the D-pad, change the view with the Select button and finally, tap X to pitch the ball. Fielding is simple too -- the D-pad moves your fielder, circle throws to first base, triangle throws to second base, square throws to the third base or switches the fielder, and X throws home. These Quick Start controls make the game easy for beginners to pick up and play, but even MLB veterans may want to use this setup. Its simplicity makes the game a little more accessible and doesn't require as much thinking, allowing you to kick back, have a Coke and enjoy a game or two with a friend.
Graphically, MLB 2002 is impressive, considering the fact that it's running on six-year-old hardware. But if there's anyone who can push the PSone's boundaries, it's Sony. With 300 motion-captured animations, they did just that. Players look more realistic than they do in the other PSone baseball titles out there, featuring nice, fluid movements. The overall look of the game has also been improved, though nothing spectacular.
In the end, MLB 2002 is where it's at. Dreamcast may be a next-generation console with a lot more polygon pushing power than the PSone, but World Series Baseball can't hold a candle to MLB 2002. The special features and superior gameplay put this game way above the rest, and Hall of Fame announcer Vin Scully and color analyst Dave Campbell provide good commentary.