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Review by: Shawn Quigley
Published: May 19, 1998
Almost a year after its first major showing, Microsoft Baseball 3D has finally gone gold. The time has come to bring all the speculation and inquiries to the table. With the help of 3D acceleration Microsoft promises the best looking baseball title this year, and is trying to dethrone some of the all-time arcade baseball greats. The question is, did they succeed?
Microsoft Baseball 3D: 1998 Edition has a strong feature list accompanying the enhanced graphics, but are they fine-tuned to the point where the tough PC baseball crowd will like and use them? There is no direct answer to that question, but this first attempt in the PC baseball arena is a solid one.
To start with, Microsoft secured both the players and the MLB baseball licenses so you will not only see the players and jerseys, but also the stadiums in full detail. The first noticeable aspect of Microsoft Baseball 3D is the graphics. From the first time you load the game, you can tell that a lot of work went into the overall look. Microsoft Baseball 3D is a Windows 95 title and it is obvious it was made by Microsoft, since the menus and on-line help mimic the newer Windows look. There are plenty of little details and touches to guide you along the way in-between games and while you are looking at schedules and stats. You will also never be without some fancy graphic or logo spinning on the screen. The developers have gone all out with the menus in this title.
When you get past the various menu screens and into the actual game, you will be amazed at how sharp the graphics are. If you are blessed with a good 3D card you will be able to run the game in higher resolutions than you probably knew your 3D card could handle. The game does not use some of the advanced features of the card, so it is able to take advantage of the excess power to increase resolutions. All the players look excellent, right down to their faces. There is no mistake as to when Kenny Loften is at the plate, because you can actually tell it is Kenny Loften. The grass textures and the stadiums are also excellent; there are even blowing flags, and the score boards will flash with different announcements. The graphics are not all perfect though; there are some graphical glitches that appear every now and then, but nothing to take away from the joy of watching the game.
We all know that graphics do not make a game, nor does a long feature list. Most games are made and broken on how well they play. Baseball in particular is a tough sport to model, because of all the intricacies that come along with the defensive positioning and offensive tactics that vary from manager to manager in the real game.
Microsoft Baseball 3D gives gamers the chance to either simply play single games or to enter into a season where they can play out a schedule that will lead to the World Series. In the single game mode, you have the ability to choose two teams, the stadium you would like to play in, and set some of the basic options in the game. These options are viewing camera positions, DH rules, and other settings such as ability levels. There are many other settings that don’t have much effect on gameplay, such as the abilty to play either night or day games.
In season play you have the chance to play through a season by choosing a team. The program will simulate games, with about a couple of seconds per game on the average. After simulating a few seasons, the statistics usually work out close to what you might think they would be, at least in the win/loss column. It varies between seasons, but then again so does the real game. You won’t find many managerial features included with Microsoft Baseball 3D, since this title is really meant to be a pure arcade baseball game. You can set line-ups and pitching rotations, as well as manage substitutions and player alignments during games, but the management options stop there.
To modify and change line-ups and pitching rotations there is a separate Windows-based General Manager application that is installed with the game. It is relatively easy to use and allows you to create and modify players. Every player is ranked on attributes such as endurance, power, and speed. Each attribute has a scale of 1 to 10 to give every player in the league a level of experience. You can also choose things like jersey number and the size of the player. When using the game’s existing players, the results are on the average side. Even when you create the best baseball player alive, they don’t always play that way. This can be argued both ways, but many people should find it acceptable.
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