A triple play is a rare defensive gem in baseball: the process of recording three outs in one continuous play. It is a truly magnificent accomplishment - much more stunning than the baseball game that brandishes the same name.
For what it's worth, Triple Play 98 is the slickest-looking baseball game on the market. After you boot it up, the game greets you with an outstanding full motion video sequence that fades away to reveal snazzy, intuitive menus that are chock-full of options. After you choose the teams and a stadium to play in, the CD loads - and it's barely noticeable because a mini-trivia game appears instead of a boring load screen. Once the quick trivia (and the load) is finished, another excellent FMV sequence (a breathtaking aerial flyby of the stadium) introduces you to the baseball field.
On the field, Triple Play's new 3-D graphics look absolutely stunning. The use of motion capture has really paid off, as the players move realistically, right down to their nervous bat twitches at home plate. But while there is plenty of aesthetically impressive improvement, many of the problems in last year's game still plague the 98 edition. The slow frame rate is the biggest annoyance, affecting many important facets of gameplay. For example, the swing of the bat isn't as fluid as it should be, making it harder to time the hitting of pitches. Also, the screen struggles to scroll when it follows hard hit balls into the outfield.
Unlike the graphics, the audio has very few flaws. Triple Play has what EA proudly introduces as the first ever two-man broadcast booth. Basically, this consists of the banter of play-by-play man Jim Hughson and color commentator Buck Martinez. It's entertaining to listen to the two chitchat for a few games, but after you start hearing the same phrases repeated, the commentator audio switch becomes one of game's best features.
Like all EA Sports titles, Triple Play is brimming with features and options. This game, however, has raised the bar by providing the most thoroughly complete console baseball game ever. All of the MLB licenses add authenticity to Triple Play, but things like the expansion draft (for the two teams that enter the league next year) and a detailed player creation feature make this game stand out. All of the now-standard play modes (exhibition, season, etc.) are included, as well as batting practice and a Home Run Derby. The game has three skill levels and can be played as either a simulation or an arcade-style game. And most importantly, sport fashion buffs will be pleased to know that the home, away, and alternate jerseys are included for each team.
With this awesome array of depth, features, and options, Triple Play 98 is a perfect game for baseball fanatics who love to analyze stats and manage teams. If you're looking for fun, crisp gameplay, however, this baseball game's slick packaging and vast array of features may fail to mask its flaws.