It’s that time of year again, spring is in the air, and we all know what that means, it’s time for baseball. Over the years the baseball genre has been slowly growing but hasn’t really had a "homerun" title in quite some time. Most of the baseball games being released the last couple of years has been all in the same type of ballpark. So can Acclaim hit a homerun with All-Star Baseball 2005, or are they just going to strike out, read on to find out.
The one thing I have noticed about the baseball titles of this year is that they all seem to be improving. From the games I have played it seems as though they are finally starting to take some risks. In ASB 05 you have some new features that will make some happy and some not so happy, it will all depend on personal tastes.
ASB 05 is still packed with all the game modes you could ever want for a baseball title, plus some. The game modes of All-Star Baseball 2005 include: Quick Play, Franchise, Expansion, Pick-Up Game, This Week in Baseball, Trivia Game, Batting Practice, Home Run Derby, and Full Xbox Live Support. So as you can probably already see there is a quite large amount of game modes you will be able to choose from in the game.
By far what most gamers are looking for these days is the best franchise mode possible, and ASB 05 comes through very nicely in this category. You start off by taking your selected team through Spring Training, trying to complete a bunch of different objectives, which then gives you points to help improve your team. You will not only be in charge of everything on the field but also everything off. In ASB 05 franchise mode you are given the responsibility of managing the budget, managing the staff, and making sure you are putting out a winning squad onto the field. This is one of those franchise modes that will have you just as busy off the field as it will on.
Now if you’re not a fan of any of the teams, then hey you’re not stuck with them, you also have the ability to take an expansion team through the franchise mode. This means draft some key veterans in the expansion draft and take your team through the franchise mode and build a dynasty all on your own.
The other gameplay modes fit very nicely into the game, especially the Pick-Up game which I really enjoyed. It will remind everyone about the days where you used to pick teams at recess. Well in this mode the computer randomly selects a group of players and you and the computer/friend can go back and forth picking players. The rest of the modes are all very nicely done including the "This Week in Baseball" mode which has you trying to re-enact some of the most famous plays in the history of baseball.
Last year I was quite disappointed with the fact that ASB 05 did not have full Xbox Live support but just the ability to download content. Well that’s no longer the case, because now the game has the full support. The live mode works pretty well, with some instances of lag, I had some tough games on there, not because of the competition but the lag itself. This wasn’t found in every game but a vast majority of my experiences included some pretty bad lag.
Ok, so you have heard about the game modes now it is time to get the gameplay itself and this is where we have some problems. Acclaim has tried some new camera angles in the game, which have the potential but some things are holding it back. We will start with the pitching cam; no longer will you be seeing the game from the batter’s standpoint (while pitching) but instead you will be behind the pitcher. This gives you a sort of bird’s eye view of the plate, like you would if you were actually playing. Now this camera is really enjoyable, but it’s when the batter hits the ball is when the problems begin.
The fielding cam was inadequately made and quite unacceptable, to say the least. Once the batter hits the ball the camera jumps out onto the field. Well this doesn’t always work like it should, the camera sometimes focuses in on the wrong fielder, and a lot of the times you are given some of the nastiest views imaginable. The camera is very off balance and to say the least is puzzling.
The rest of the cameras work, but when playing defense you’re going to need some serious patience to get used to it. Overall the gameplay hasn’t been overly enhanced; in fact with the addition of these new camera angles you have some really good and some really not so great. To put this all together, you have a game that hasn’t traveled very far from last year’s edition.
The All-Star baseball series has never been one of the better looking baseball titles on the market. When compared to Sega’s and EA’s baseball titles, All-Star just always seems to be a year behind in the visual department, and this year is all of the same.
The character models have been improved from last year’s edition of the game but not by much. There have been some minor adjustments to the models, but for the most part you are going to get something that looks pretty similar to last year. The one big plus for the game are the stadiums, which have been done to near perfection. Besides that everything else in the game has been very decently done nothing really to brag about, but everything seems right around average.
ASB 05 has some really great features, including one of the best if not the best franchise modes in the baseball genre. The few downsides being the camera angle could be worked with by next year, but really hurt the fun factor in this one. The gameplay is about right where it was last year, which means that the game is fun, but it just hasn’t made it to the top tier yet.
I was kind of disappointed with ASB 05, not because it’s a bad game, but because it seems as though we are in the same spot as we were last year, which is never a compliment to a game. If you have the 2004 version of ASB just stick with it, otherwise I would consider ASB 05 a great rental.
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.