Acclaim has once again released its yearly All-Star Baseball title for the Nintendo Gamecube.
There are many noticeable improvements, but there are also a few errors that are worth pointing out.
The major ups and downs of All-Star Baseball 2004 can be found in the Gameplay department. I must say ASB 2004 has one of the most remarkable front-end interfaces I have ever seen. The amount of options made available to the user is remarkable. Some of the options for games are exhibition, franchise, series, expansion, pick-up game, and home run derby. The expansion option allows you to create your own team and complete and expansion draft to fill your major league roster, as well as your minor league teams. From there the expansion option runs the same as the franchise mode. The franchise mode goes very deep into the behind the scenes aspects of the game of baseball as well as competing in the 162 game season. Everything from managing you minor league teams, your teams payroll, and completing various player drafts are your responsibility. All of these features add to the games overall appeal.
Now come the parts that drag down the overall gameplay. Choppy animation transistions as well as slow reaction times by fielders can become extremely frustrating. I am not very happy when I am fielding a ground ball up the middle, trying to turn a double play and my shortstop decides to pitch the ball to the shortstop from over 15 feet away. Needless to say the ball ends up rolling on the ground for a while and everyone is safe. Another issue I have come across is when a ball looks certain to make it into the gap and get by the fielder all of a sudden the player will scoop up the ball even though it is 10 feet behind him. The only other real problem I have noticed is there is no way to determine weather your player is going to make a soft or hard through. A single up the middle can be fielded and the center fielder goes to gently through the ball back to the infield, and instead he will rocket the ball back to the infield. On the other hand, if a bunt is laid down your player can slowly loft the ball to first base. While these problems can be extremely aggravating, they happen seldom enough not to detract from the overall appeal of the game.
ASB2004 did a good job in the graphic department. While there is nothing innovative or new, they could have done a lot worse. The ballpark environments are very detailed and look great. Acclaim also did a good job with fielding animations. Diving and sliding catches are done well, and player models, for the star players, look pretty impressive.
The sound department is another area done correctly. While sound will not be a deciding factor for most on whether or not to purchase a game, it does add a nice touch. The crowd effects in ASB 2004 sound lifelike and go along with what is happening in the game. The announcing of Steve Lyons and Thom Brennamen can get repetitive at times, but is better then most games as far as depth of commentary goes. Having Spanish language commentary is also a nice touch.
As a whole ASB 2004 is an entertaining single player, as well as multi-player game, that can hold any players attention for a long time with the vast number of options. The flaws of the game are outweighed by the positives, and makes for a fun experience. I recommend All-Star Baseball 2004 to anyone who loves the game of baseball.