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Giants Citizen Kabuto (PS2)

You know what I think? Well this whole article is about what I think, so I guess I should start over. You know what I think about baseball video games? Baseball games really haven't gotten anymore fun since the days of Sega Genesis. My favorite Baseball game has always been and will always be (for the foreseeable future) RBI Baseball '93 for Sega Genesis. It had everything that you could ask for in a baseball video game, and add to that it wasn't complicated -- not at all. No deep menus, no complex pitching fielding controls, there was nothing at all to detract from the gameplay except for the two-dimensional graphics. That's when people got greedy. People were eager to, whether or not they realized it, give up fun for the sake of graphics. Enter the first generation of PSOne baseball games which were almost undeniably inferior to 16bit games made years before. Only recently have developers gained the experience to make a good looking well playing polygonal stickballer, and with all the new features, better than ever.

With my rant/history lesson over, I think I've laid enough foundation to actually talk about the game. On a whole the game has all of the juicy stats on every stickballer that any hardcore fan demands. Its rosters are up to day with the 2003 season, so there's no need to make trades to fix your favorite team's roster; but if you really want to, you could always "fix" your favorite team by trading on a few more star players. The commentary, provided by Thom Brennaman, Steve Lyons, and Bob Brenly, is effective and not as repetitive and trite as several of the other baseball games from last year.

I'm going to be straight with you off the bat (you get it? Off the bat? Man I'm so funny) [No you aren't -Editor]. Rarely do I find a game where I am consistently beaten so much by other people. Wildly uneven scores abounded: 2 to 7, 5 to 12, 1 to 14. I was beaten so humiliatingly so many times I switched to automatic fielding and easy batting. Both handicaps, I'm sorry to report, never quell my losing streak. It's very emasculating loosing that much, it really messes with your ego. That's all beside the point though. What I was trying to get to is the fact that the computer still only beat me about half as often as a human player. This makes it pretty obvious that ASB, as with all other baseball simulations, still have a way to go in designing an AI that emulates the skill of a real person.

The controls are simple to learn, and in general, are responsive. The buttons are intuitively mapped, and I have no gripes at all.

All-Star mode, the signature mode of play, allows two players or a player and the computer to compete against each other using the 2002 All Star team from the East and West. Two player mode is no frills and straightforward. You can choose from all of the MLB teams, but none of the classic teams available in exhibition. As in single player, all of the stadiums are there, but one fault is that you can't earn the bonus baseball cards. As a matter of fact, one inexplicable glitch in the game occurred in two player mode with the bases loaded. I was up to bat with two outs when a fast ball came straight down the middle of the plat needless to say I hit was a beautiful bullet down center, it was about to fall in the outfield when it was remarkably caught by an invisible fielder. Yes, I said invisible as in -- not there. Even with further examination on the replay, all we could see was the bullet speeding into the outfield and stopping in mid-air as the commentators discussed my out. Go figure.

The Bottom Line: ASB 2003 is good, but it's spring which means there should be two or three other contenders vying for the title of virtual stick ball big kahuna. Among baseball games just or soon to be released are High Heat 2003 from 3DO or Triple Play from EA. Rent, mooch, or (...ahem) steal a copy of all three and see which one suits your tastes. Any way you put it ASB is still worth your money.

Overall: 7.1/10
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