Precious rarities, perfect games are elusive and it’s inevitable that there will eventually be players on base. In these situations, you have several options, depending on which team you are controlling. As the team up to bat, you may elect to have a runner steal, advance his lead, or retreat his lead; the particularly daring may even have all their runners on base try to steal at once. A fielding player may have his pitcher spin and throw a pick-off throw to any of the bases, however, putting the fear back into the hearts of particularly daring runners.
Throwing the ball around the park may be accomplished in one of two ways: the traditional method of a direction button coupled with the throw command is considered the alternate set, while the default controls map each base to a corresponding button. The convenient layout of the triangle, square, X and circle buttons means that you can always throw to the appropriate base with minimal learning curve. This same technique was used last year and made for an intuitive system.
Whether performed by the infield, outfield or the backcatcher, intercepting a fly ball, or cutting off a line drive is made fairly intuitive thanks to High Heat 2003‘s catching system. A target is displayed on the ground at the approximate landing point of the ball. This point can deviate based on wind in open air stadiums, but typically a player with good hustle making it to that point will be able to make the catch. Up against the wall, it may be possible for an outfielder to intercept a home run while jumping. Similarly, a grounder can usually be picked off with a well timed slide on the fielder’s part; these controls are context sensitive, meaning that players will never jump for a ground ball.
One component that hasn’t changed at all from the last edition of the High Heat series is the obsessive and nearly compulsive attention to detail provided by the league statisticians. Want to know individual batting averages for this game, or the whole season? High Heat 2003 is more than happy to provide. Essentially, you can find every statistic short of “ounces of tobacco spat” over the course of a season or game.
Season mode involves more than just stats. During the initial setup, players are given the option to play either the full 162 game stint or shorten it down for manageability. Similarly, your season may, or may not, include an all-star game and complete control is given over the number of games that make up the playoffs, as well as how inter-league games will be scheduled. Once managing your season, you can assign ownership of each team to human players, meaning that a group of friends can participate in the season, playing a mix of games versus the CPU and against each other. Any game that involves two CPU teams will be automatically simulated, and players can elect to have their games mathematically concluded as well. Managing the team can be more involving than just playing their games, however, as the management menu allows you to adjust the starting lineup, pitching rotation and even negotiate trades with other teams.
Those uninterested in playing out a whole season can comfort themselves in the knowledge that any of the teams may be paired up in the exhibition mode, and that a quick option exists to play out an all-star game. These competitions work in exactly the same manner as any other, except that the statistics disappear after the match has been completed. As might be expected, you can alter each team’s lineup and pitching rotation before these games, and any of the 30 stadiums included in High Heat 2003 may host the one-off game.