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Baseball. America's pass-time. Where the boys of summer can earn a pass to Cooperstown. Love it or hate it, you probably have some feeling about baseball. Maybe you grew up going to the spring training camps with your grandpa. Maybe you get bored waiting for something to happen on the field. Everything can change when you take control of the action though. Videogames have become the bridge to a whole new world of action for our society of armchair quarterbacks and joystick jockeys. So, when it comes down to it, the question is really, "Which baseball videogame is for me?" Is it Acclaim's All Star Baseball 2004? It just very well may be.
If you're looking for the latest baseball games available for Nintendo's GameCube console, your options are pretty slim. There's 3DO's High Heat Major League Baseball 2004, which is coming in May, and Acclaim's All-Star Baseball 2004, which is available now. Without a doubt, All-Star Baseball 2004 is the game to get if variety is your number one concern. The sheer number of available teams, modes, and bonuses is simply staggering.
All-Star Baseball is a perennial fan favorite, and the home crowd will not be disappointed by this year?s entry either. All-Star Baseball 2004 fields a scrappy game of baseball that?s good enough to make it a contender in three divisions?PlayStation 2, GameCube, and Xbox.
At this point, Acclaim's All-Star Baseball 2004 is beginning to show the age of the franchise. This is a good thing, because the amount of features, extras and tasty little details to warm a baseball fan's heart are easily the game's strongest features and you only get stuff like that when the developer -- Acclaim Austin, in this case -- has time to build on a title year after year. But there's some bad to go along with all of that good, because some of the same flaws that have plagued the series since its days on the Nintendo 64 have inexplicably made the transition to next generation consoles -- not once, but twice now.
Every year, stories come out of spring training about the aging veteran trying to prove he still belongs on the team. This year's video game version of that graybeard would be Acclaim's All-Star Baseball 2004. The series has been around for a while and is definitely starting to show its years.
All-Star Baseball 2004 does all the basics well and with the extra features and historical aspects, it’s worth playtime for the hardcore baseball fan. Even I, with an obvious indifference to the sport, got caught up in the game a few times over a couple of seasons.
My computer and video game baseball experience dates back to the late 80’s where I began my rookie career with the Hardball series from Accolade. Time warp to the mid-90’s and you would have found me dabbling with Microsoft’s excellent baseball series, and then the 21st century brought great baseball titles like MLB SlugFest, High Heat, and All-Star Baseball.
Combined with a good development team and bad ideas, All-Star Baseball is only an average game compared to MVP. Sure it may be the most realistic, but sometimes a game can be too real and that just doesn't work. You may enjoy this game for its features, but you won't play it long, if you play MVP soon there after.
Acclaim used to be the king of video baseball games with the first few editions of their All-Star Baseball franchise, but their reign atop the field looks like it may have ended. There are many more things to do in ASB than other baseball video games, but the lack of flashy graphics and quality gameplay make this game the choice for stat junkies and bonus feature fanatics, not for fans of quality sports games.
With all of the problems, you may be shocked to learn that I actually did enjoy the time I spent with ASB 2004. This is a solid but unpolished game of baseball with more than enough modes and options to keep any baseball fan busy for months. Hopefully, next year Acclaim will focus on ironing out the gameplay problems to bring that aspect up to par with the rest of the package.