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Microsoft's first attempt at a console baseball was a success. This game is great fun offline and even better online, just watch out for the dreaded plug pullers and quitters when someone starts to lose a game. "It's Game Time!"
Inside Pitch 2003 has some extremely minor failings in animation which occur in the post-play area, but this game avoids some of the pitfalls of other MLB games. The physical dynamics are very good, the ballparks look terrific, the play-by-play is superb and the game plays very well.
If you don't like the other baseball games on the market, Inside Pitch is worth checking out. It's no superstar, but it's bound to attract some fans, especially with its online play.
Establishing your national ranking and playing against real life people can be a lot of fun, especially for baseball fans dying to finally play a game online. Of course, no online experience would be complete without your general run of the mill bad sports whom cheat and quit to cause severe cases of frustration. According to Inside Pitch developers, cheating issues will be resolved in upcoming game updates, which will be released shortly. Thanks to Xbox Live being broadband only, you will rarely if ever encounter any lag, which is obviously a great thing as any lag in a baseball game could be the difference between a strikeout and a home run. Without a doubt, the Xbox Live feature is the best thing Inside Pitch has going for it this season, and reason alone for you to pick it up if you’re dying to play some baseball online.
Xbox Live play was the biggest selling point when this game was initially released. Obviously, that's not a factor now. That doesn't mean this title still fails provide a nice diversion from the overly realistic games on the market today, filled with all sorts of meters and deep strategy. This still remains a nice pick up and play title for those who don't live and breathe the game. Die-hards should just head for the latest entries on the market.
I liken Inside Pitch 2003 to a prospect whose been rushed to the big leagues. Sure, the potential for a star player is there, but the kid still needs to work on a few fundamentals before he can really make an impact on the rest of the league. So unless you're itching for a baseball game to play on Xbox Live, I suggest you give this kid another year of development before you insert him into your starting rotation.
I can honestly say that the CPU AI knows nothing about the sport. With two outs and a runner on third, I dripped a grounder to the shortstop. Instead of throwing the ball to first to end the inning, he tossed it home. I simply ran back to third, which later resulted in the scoring of four runs. Illogical actions along these lines are the norm for Inside Pitch. To make matters worse, the batting/pitching interface is a joke. Not only are the points on the pitching grid fixed to a point where you can’t place your pitches; the ball physics appear to be moon-based – which basically means that unless you have snail-like reflexes, you’ll hit every pitch.
In light of all of its inadequacies, the only reasonable justification to add Inside Pitch 2003 to your collection is if you want to play online against human opponents. The majority of flaws and gaffes that are so painfully obvious against the CPU are much more tolerable when they affect both players equally. If you don't intend to go online, you're better off picking up one of the better available alternatives, such as Sega's World Series Baseball 2K3 or Acclaim's All-Star Baseball 2004--the latter of which also offers downloadable roster updates from the Xbox Live service.
Inside Pitch 2003 can be fun in small spurts, but it's just not that great of a game. It's got a lot of weak points and only a handful of strengths. Yes, it features downloadable content, custom soundtracks, and online head-to-head play, but what good are these things if the game itself isn't good? This is a game that should not have been released. It's the first taste of MS baseball for gamers, and that taste is poison, tainting next year's version before it's ever been seen. All I can do is play the game, shake my head, and ask: "Wha' happened??!"
Inside Pitch 2003 is clearly the weakest baseball offering of the year. However, it's the only one that's online, and playing online can be fun. If you're dying to do just that, then you should probably at least rent this game. But know that you are not playing the best baseball game out there. Come to think of it, you're not really playing a good one at all.
While the same problems exist online as they do within the single game, the human players are much more prone to, well, human behavior. The interface is straightforward, and it's relatively simple to find a game (or host if you so choose). Most human opponents I played against were nice and easy enough to play along with, although like in any online game, I had my share of people conveniently disconnecting in the late innings without warning. Is it that bad to lose? (Microsoft has already announced that a patch will be issued to address this. Isn't "patch" a PC game thing?)