Let's Play Ball!
by Alan Zisman
(c) 1998. First
published in Vancouver Computes,
Hard Ball 6
Triple Play 99
Baseball is the classic summer game. So with baseball
season in full
swing (no pun intended), it should be no surprise to find the virtual
also tempting sports game fans.
This year, the focus is on 3D?combine the improved
graphics with sound
and the new crop of games is more realistic than ever. We presented our
teen game-playing panel, Joey and Frankie with a pair of the newest:
HardBall 6, and Electronic Arts? Triple Play 99. They looked at
the PC and Sony PlayStation version of Triple Play 99 (TP99).
Both games offer a range of play modes: you can play a
a championship series, or pilot your team through a whole year?s worth
of games. You can trade players to improve your team?s chances. Both
are available for Win95 computers and Sony PlayStation. The Windows
require DirectX 5.0. They both want a fairly new Pentium, between 20
120 megs of drive space, and offer optional support for 3dFx
accelerators. Each supports play across a network, over a modem, or via
Accolade claims that its HardBall series, now in its
10th year, is the
all-time best-selling baseball game.
A nice feature is the ability to test your team
against an All-Time
All-Star Team, with historic players represented in the best year of
career, like the 1927 60-home run hitting Babe Ruth. Players can
weather conditions ranging from wind to humidity as well as a vast
of options for customizing gameplay.
The boys found it an enjoyable play, but were
disappointed with its
take on 3D, at least on their non-accelerated test system. Joey
that the graphics seemed blocky, with players? legs looking squared of
and not at all realistic. They did, however, liked some of the details
as the game was starting off, and in some little vignettes, such as
the players wipe the dirt off their close after sliding into base. They
also approved of the way the game shows a player running from base to
(by comparison, TP99 shows a dot going around a little inset picture of
the field). They found the announcing OK, but complained that while
got information about the day?s weather and the field conditions, there
was no information about the player up at bat. (Right-clicking on a
name in the pre-game lineup screen pops-up the player?s baseball card.)
Overall, 7 out of 10.
Triple Play 99
TP99 is the third version of Eletronic Arts? baseball
game. This year?s
version offers a number of new features, including Batter Point of View
(which looks cool but is hard to play), in-depth manager mode, and
career mode. Like Hard Ball 6, it optionally supports 3DFx hardware
(though this feature is buggy). Full-league draft lets you try to
your dream team?but you can?t simply grab all the best players.
The boys found Electronic Arts? offering quicker to
get up and running--
just two screens between game startup and playtime. And when the game
they both were impressed with its level of realism. They liked the
by TV announcers Buck Martinez and Jim Hughson, and appreciated getting
the lowdown on each player as he came to the plate. They enjoyed the
noises?the sounds of the crowd, the calls of ?popcorn here?, even the
making it feel more like being in a real baseball stadium.
Even the grass looks realistic, they commented.
Electronic Arts worked
on many minor details, which the boys noticed, such as the marks on the
bats after a hit. Then there?s the player?s little dance after hitting
a home run, accompanied by fireworks and an enthusiastic crowd.
Overall, the boys rated this one 9 out of 10, making
it the winner.
They also spent some time with the PlayStation version
of the game.
Joey pointed out that on that platform, it loaded quicker and the
looked more realistic. Frankie agreed, feeling that the the appearance
was ?smooth and crisp?. Perhaps because of this, he felt it was easier
to hit the ball than in the PC version. Inevitably, it was easier to
up 2-player mode on the game system. However, if you want to play
a remote user, the computer version is the only way to go.
We had hoped to have a copy of Microsoft?s first entry
into this genre?Microsoft
3D Baseball, but the game simply wasn?t ready in time. It may be out by
the time you read this, but if they wait too much longer, they may be
late for this year?s season.
It is the summer? hopefully you won?t spend too much
time cooped up
in front of the computer or PlayStation screen. Go out and play some
baseball. But if it?s raining, or everyone else is off at summer camp,
you won?t go too far wrong swatting a few virtual home runs around the
stadium with either of these two games.
(It showed up later...)