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Triple Play Baseball
Review By: Jared Black
Developer:   Treyarch
Publisher:   EA
# of Players:   1-2
Genre:   Baseball
ESRB:   Everyone
Date Posted:   4-18-01

Before I begin this review, let me point out the fact that I am a huge baseball fan. Whenever I have free time (and Iím not playing video games), you can usually find me watching the Baltimore Orioles on TV. So despite how negative I may sound during this review, Triple Play Baseball really is a decent game. Itís definitely not a game that a hardcore baseball fan will want to own, but for casual fans it should provide a lot of fun.

  

In my opinion the most important part of any baseball game is the hitting interface. The hitting interface here is pretty good; not too complex and not too simplistic. Basically, you move an oval-shaped batting cursor around to hit the ball. The oval has a center red circle, which represents your power zone. The closer the center of your circle is to where the pitch crosses the plate, the more power your swing will have. If the pitch doesnít fall within your batting cursor when you swing, youíll miss the ball. The size of your batting cursor is affected by each playerís stats (notably power and contact), so that does lend some sense of realism to the game. I wouldíve liked to have seen the playerís previous batting average factored into the batting cursor as well though, because frankly there are a lot of intangible aspects to hitting that canít be captured with just a simple rating system. Also, since this is an arcadey game I wish the option to just swing the bat (old PSOne Triple Playís, such as Triple Play í98, allowed you to swing with power just by pressing up) wouldíve been included as well. Nevertheless, itís pretty functional.

Once you get onto the basepaths, things get a little more complicated. While itís true that a simple press of L1 or R1 will send all of your runners forward or backward one base, any baseball fan knows it is still really important to be able to individually control each runner. This can be done, but only by using the right analog stick to select where runners should go. Given that this is the only function the right stick really serves (thus often making it the "forgotten" button when I place my hands on the controller), itís not really that intuitive of a system. Outfielders all seem to have really strong arms as well, making advancing to a base often impossible in a situation where it should be easy (sac flies are virtually impossible unless you have a very fast runner).

The pitching interface is also implemented well, although the lack of pitches available really hurts it overall. Each pitcher has up to four pitches, but this is not nearly enough for some pitchers (dangit, I want to throw Mussinaís knucklecurve!). Before each pitch youíll select which one you want to throw (with one of the four face buttons). That will take you to a second menu, which allows you to either throw the pitch or throw to a base. During this time, you also determine the location of your pitch by moving the cursor to where you want to throw the ball. The ball wonít always go where you tell it to go though, as (like in real life) your pitch will often stray from where you intended it to go. Once you pitch, the speed of your pitch (and often the break as a result) is determined by how hard you hold down the "X" button. This allows you to mix up speeds pretty well, and adds a layer of strategy to the pitching not found in a lot of other baseball games. Overall, itís a competent system marred by a lack of pitches to choose from.

Really the only weak point in the gameplay is found in the fielding setup. On anything other than easy level (where they practically catch it for you), itís clumsy at best. Youíll scream in frustration as grounders trickle by your shortstop (who dumbly watches it go by), simply because the computer gave you the third baseman to control. This situation happens far too often on both sides of the infield. While you can switch to the nearest fielder by pressing the triangle button, 9/10 of the time it will be too late by then. When the ball is popped up, an enormously large cursor will point from the fielder youíre controlling to where the ball is going to land. While it doesnít really interfere with the gameplay, it doesnít really help either and just looks ugly. Not only that, but in order to run fast you must constantly tap the "X" button to use a speed burst. Why not just let how hard I press the analog stick determine how fast I run?

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