High Heat Baseball 2002 Preview

While critics have never doubted the High Heat Baseball series' realism, they've expressed dissatisfaction with the game's visual production - and that is the factor that 3DO is trying hardest to tighten up.

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As the PlayStation incarnations of the High Heat Baseball series haven't historically garnered much critical acclaim, 3DO's radical overhaul of the franchise seems quite logical. While critics have never doubted the games' realism, they've vocalized much dissatisfaction with the game's visual production - and that is the factor that 3DO is trying hardest to tighten up.

Foremost on the company's agenda was the rebuilding of the player model used throughout the game. As critics have often complained about the previous model's stiff, groggy nature, 3DO is quick to point out that the new model's skeleton has been built from scratch and that it will be wrapped in textures of superior quality. Our experience with the new model confirms that it does indeed seem a notch above what's come before, in terms of both detail and fluidity of motion. What's more, the players' faces have been redrawn this time around, making the faces of famous players actually recognizable.

High Heat's stadium models have also been retooled to, according to 3DO, better capture the feel of the parks. The textures have indeed been much improved from what's come before, and the level of detail has been turned up a notch. The crowds that inhabit the stadiums are also more lively this time around. They'll react to momentous plays, cheering and booing as appropriate, and will boast a whole new set of sampled sound effects.

In truth, the overall visual presentation has benefited from a genuine shot in the arm. High Heat's TV Heat feature, which replays important plays, has the company boasting, as does the game's redesigned interface.

In terms of gameplay, High Heat 2002 will enjoy many improvements over last year's installment. In an effort to remain to true to the game, 3DO has included many of baseball's less predictable happenings, including wild pitches, all manner of errors, and balks. 3DO has also taken into account the actual shapes of parks' walls, adding a new level of realism to the way that balls behave when bouncing off them. 3DO apparently takes a lot of pride in its knowledge of the minutiae of baseball, be it player rosters or the physics of the game, and it's tempting to root for them, as they indeed seem to know the game.

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