It feels like just yesterday the Angels made there historic run through the playoffs taking out the Yankees and then making it into the World Series and defeating the Giants. Being an avid "true" Angel fan it was a great time to be an Angel fan. It’s amazing that the baseball season is approaching ever so quickly and so all of the big Baseball games are hitting the market. One of the best baseball games of last year (if not the best) was All Star Baseball 2003 from Acclaim, so now the proclaimed series is back again, and it’s another solid title.
So far on the Xbox the All Star Baseball series has been quite solid and it remains that way again this year. And once again Acclaim has put more game modes into this version to keep things fresh. In All Star Baseball 2004 there are enough game modes to last you a long, long time. These modes include an Exhibition Mode, Franchise Mode, Series, and Expansion mode. There are also some bonus modes including, Pick-Up Game, Scenario Mode, Trivia, Batting Practice, and Homerun Derby. As you can see there are a ton of modes to choose from, but one main mode that was left off the game, was the ability to play on the Live service. You can download rosters and updates using the Live service but you do not have the ability to play against others on Xbox Live which was quite disappointing.
I will start just by discussing some of the main modes of the game in which have the most effect on the overall game. First I will start by discussing the main "modes" of the game, which would be the Franchise and Expansion modes. In the franchise mode you will take over an existing team with their existing roster and try to take them through several seasons of greatness. In the expansion mode you will create a team by first choosing through a selection of cities, mascots, and stadiums. After you do this you will be sent to the expansion draft, and then you are off to try to take your brand new team to the World Series.
If you are familiar with ASB 2003 then you will find that Acclaim has done a lot of little things to upgrade the ASB engine to fix a lot of the flaws that plagued it. The gameplay of ASB 2004 is pretty solid. I will start by discussing the batting system. I really had mixed feelings about the way it works. It is the same kind of system where you have a triangle showing the range in which you are swinging at. You have two different types of swings the normal and then the power. Depending on which one you choose will effect how easy it will be to hit the ball.
So far so good right? Well let’s just saying getting the bat on the ball is a lot harder then it probably needs to be. The reason it is quite difficult is because the pitches come in so fast. So with that being said you barely have enough time to get your cursor to where the ball is going to try to hit the ball, which is going to cause a LOT of frustration. There are a two other different batting systems which you can choose from, but those really aren’t much better. To give your self a little better chance of hitting the ball you can turn on the option to exaggerate pitches to give you a little more of an advantage. What I found though is that doing the batting practice mode helped out quite a bit.
Pitching and fielding in the game are pretty solid. You will find that your pitcher will have three to five pitches to choose from and once you choose your pitch you will be able to move the cursor around to locate your pitch. One of the faults in the game though is that you will find that the computer doesn’t like to swing at the close pitches, and very rarely swinging at balls. So it is quite hard to get the computer to swing at bad pitches. The fielding seems to be pretty solid there are a few minor flaws that will bug sometimes but there is nothing terribly wrong.
The commentary team of Steve Lyons and Thom Brennamen is pretty good. It was surprising to hear all the commentary they actually do throughout the game. There are a lot of different comments and points of trivia that they have which are sometimes pretty interesting. The commentary is surprisingly good and although does get kind of old after a while it gets the job done. The rest of the sound in ASB 2004 is pretty good. The sound effects are not anything spectacular but are good enough to get the job done.
If you remember the first few All Star Baseball games for the N64 you will remember very high camera angles that the game used. Now they still use the higher outlook but not like the first few. The graphics of the ASB series have always been a solid looking game but never anything special.
The player models have there ups and there downs but for the most part are pretty average. The players at bat look pretty solid, with sharp visuals and very detailed. But once you get passed the batters box things start to go downhill. Everything loses a lot of detail and things don’t look as good as they did. Overall the character models aren’t anything special but do get the job done.
The stadiums are probably the best looking portion of ASB 2004. Each stadium matches exactly what the really do in real life. The rest of the games graphics including the uniforms and things of that nature are just about average. There is not a lot of great in ASB 2004 just a whole lot of average.
If you like baseball games then you will most likely find ASB 2004 pretty fun. It is a game that will take some time to get used to but it rewards you with fun close games and plenty of game modes to choose from. All of the special features are also a lot of fun. One of my favorites is the trivia mode, which allows you to play against a friend to see who knows the most about Baseball.
If you are looking for a new baseball title for your Xbox then you should definitely think about picking up ASB 2004. I would have to say if you enjoyed ASB 2003 then you will enjoy ASB 2004 just as much if not more. ASB 2004 although some minor faults is a solid baseball title that shouldn’t be overlooked.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.