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High Heat Major League Baseball 2002
Score: 73%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: 3DO
Developer: 3DO
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Sports

Graphics & Sound:
High Heat Major League Baseball 2002 -- wow, that's a mouthful -- really didn't impress me in the least bit. Player models were not very well done at all, and the graphics in general were a bit choppy (especially noticeable on replays). Even though graphics are not essential to the sports genre, the blandness in High Heat 2002 really does take away from the game.

The 2-man announcing team does a pretty good job of giving a TV-style presentation. But again, choppy speech took away from my overall first impression of the game. Unfortunately, there is a pause before saying team names, player names, and any other non-generic (specific) speech. Had it been a bit smoother, the speech would have picked up some of the slack where other elements of the game dropped the ball.

Gameplay is a tough thing to write about for High Heat 2002. I have such mixed feelings that I need to touch upon different points. For example, the game does have a nice 'flow' to it, keeping things moving and always interesting. Yet, at other points in time it seemed as though nothing would go right and you could get into a rut that was impossible to break free from.

One of the best features in HHMLB2002 is the way you go about hitting. It's about time someone take control and make hitting the ball more of a challenge than just timing your swing. Do you remember Bases Loaded for the NES? One of the best baseball games ever. Why? Because not only did you have to time your swing, but also had to AIM your swing! High Heat 2002 hit a grand slam on this one. By doing so, the difficulty of hitting is increased nine-fold, as there are now 9 positions to swing your bat. Funny thing is that it seems as though anyone can hit a homer by just making solid contact, yet getting a base hit is a lot more difficult.

Unfortunately, hitting a grand slam doesn't always win the game for you. Sometimes there are just too many strikeouts, and to me, this game actually hit into a triple play. (1) The control is just plain bad, and very hard to get used to. (2) Again, I would compare the graphics to first generation titles on the PlayStation. And, (3) there aren't nearly the options that should be included in a solid baseball title.

Options included in High Heat Major League Baseball 2002 are the standard Exhibition, Season, and Playoff Modes, as well as a Home Run Derby. Others include a Family Mode, which allows the computer to control most aspects of the game, Fast Play which forces strikes to speed things up a bit, and Batting Practice (highly recommended). Missing from the list are things like Create-a-Player (only the ability to change names/stats is available) and Multiplayer Compatibility (only 2 people can play even with a Multitap, so forget about turning this into a party game unless you want to have a tournament).

HHMLB2002 has 5 difficulty settings to please everyone from Experts to Wannabe Experts. The in-game difficulty varies almost as much. Making contact with the ball is a bit tricky with the 9-position aiming, but with practice you will be able to start predicting pitches more frequently. If you do happen to make contact, you will have a good shot at hittin' a dinger. Pitching is fairly easy as everything is right on the screen for you. Throwing strikes is the hard part sometimes. The only other difficulty comes in the form of controlling your base runners and outfielders. Even though you have your choice of two different methods, the control setup does not seem very user-friendly.

Game Mechanics:
Controlling your fielders and base runners is not an easy task. In the field, you are very limited to what you can actually do (for example, the lack of a turbo button). One of the biggest issues I had was the throwing scheme. I still am unclear about how to know if I will throw to the cut-off man or not. Base running is equally as challenging because there are so many options to control your men that it gets confusing. Lotsa practice makes perfect, I suppose.

High Heat Major League Baseball 2002 fell way short of my expectations, which made me extremely disappointed with the game. There are some great elements (like the batting method), but there are just too many downfalls to recommend dishing out hard-earned money for this game. Spend the five bucks and rent it, but you might want to look at other options when at your favorite software store.

-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele

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