The smell of seemingly freshly cut grass permeates my living room as my leadoff hitter makes his way from the on deck circle to home plate. If this sounds like some real game descriptions...well...it's mostly due to the fact that it's darn close. High Heat Major League Baseball 2003
is not only known for it's unbelievably short title, but also for its beautiful display that it splashes on your TV screen. What other game brings you perfectly true to life stadiums from Boston's looming Green Monster to the twinkling ivy of Wrigley Field. Yankee Stadium looks so posh, just like in real life, that I keep waiting for the crowd to burst out to Zombie Nation
in unison. The players look just as good as the fields do, but do lack a lot of originality in facial features. For instance, Jason Giambi looks like Greg Vaughn...only lighter. Even when customizing a player, you don't have a lot of options to choose from (height, weight, skin color, goatee) but what you do have is something that looks great nonetheless. The animations are top notch, with fielders making life-like dives, home run kings doing ominous points towards the bleachers and pitchers making a curveball snap wickedly toward the corner of the plate. The batters in the batting box look very much like they're 'cut and pasted' there, but the stances, swings, misses, hits, and even the way they get ready before the pitch are true to form. The crowds do leave something to be desired visually, but the absolute beauty of the freshly cropped field draws and keeps your attention on the rapturous green grass. Heck, even the umpires look good! High Heat 2003
is as fine looking as any baseball game out there, if not better, but let us remember that some of the minute, smaller things could definitely be improved upon in the future.
While visually, you are given a treat, the sound can definitely be a main course on its own. Everything is seemingly perfect. The crowd is raucous when things are bumpy for the home team, while they can emit ear splitting, decibel-laden roars when the home team goes up on the scoreboard. Goodness forbids if the home team hits a grand slam, because then you can even hear lone hecklers railing the visiting team's batters. You'll also hear children playing, vendors selling and the occasional 'come on ump, are you blind?!' When you take the great crowd sound and add in phenomenal in game sounds like bats smacking, fastballs whizzing, umpires yelling 'strike,' base-stealing slides and the crack of a hard hit liner smacking a leather glove, you get an astonishing formula that brings baseball to the forefront of your living room. Play-by-play is brought to you by the dynamic tandem of Dave O'Brien and Chuck Valenches. And while baseball seems like it won't have too much to say in the commentary department, the commentary never gets old or boring. The play-by-play is a perfect supplement to the already muscular sound.