Triple Play 2000 is a good game which is prevented from being a great one by the little things that gamers always look for when playing sports titles.
Buck Martinez and Electronic Arts' own Jim Hughson provide the color commentary and play-by-play respectively. While it's not as sparse as Madden NFL 2000, it's not nearly as lively as NHL 2000 or even NBA Inside drive 2000. That's a shame, because if there's any sport which is just full of anecdotes and comments, it's baseball with its lull between pitches. There is some commentary on the players which discusses their careers and previous seasons, but there certainly could have been more. The play-by-play is pedestrian; more than once Hughson neglected to mention an error or miscalled a play.
Unlike other EA titles, there's also very little in the way of replays during the game. For some reason you get to see all the foul balls again, but hit a monster home run and you won't see it again unless you call it up. I wanted to see a television-style replay so that I could see where the ball landed, but the game just continued to the next batter. Calling up the replay on my own wasn't much better because it only has a certain number of preset camera angles; you can't move around the replay and get a good close-up like you can in other sports titles.
The learning curve in Triple Play 2000 is pretty quick, so I wouldn't recommend continuing to play your games on rookie level unless you enjoy 14-12 final scores. Baseball games are usually a lot easier to get the hang of than football or hockey games anyway. You might also look into controlling your baserunners manually instead of letting the computer do it. My players made way too many boneheaded gaffes during the games I played. They kept getting caught in run-downs or would get take off on line drives and get doubled off their base. I do like the help the computer will give you with your fielders, however. Having a big set of arrows and a red box to run toward can be helpful.
The graphics overall are well done and fluid. The players look realistic and their real faces are captured pretty well (sadly, you can't put your face in this game like you can in NHL 2000), although the crowd is lame. They're all two-dimensional, which makes the stands look like multi-colored boxes off which the foul balls bounce. Let's see a close-up of some fan snagging a foul ball or home run, and let's definitely see them look more realistic than they do.
There isn't much in the way of animations, though. I'd like to see the pitcher pump his fist after, say, striking out a batter with the bases loaded. The end of the game also looks pretty lame. The winning team runs around like idiots, waving their arms as if they've just won the World Series. And then you discover that the exact same animation is shown when the World Series is over, except for the lame fireworks which are thrown in. How about a shot of the pitcher shaking hands with the catcher like you always see after real games? And how about a real World Series-clinching celebration?
The audio, with the exception of my complaints about the play-by-play, is adequate. The crowd sounds realistic, and every so often you'll hear a vendor or a chant will break out, but it feels like something's missing. I think the biggest problem lies with the fact that they don't get worked up and cheer really hard when the home team does well or boo when the home team screws up. As a result, you don't quite feel like you're there at a real game, which in my opinion should be the goal of any sports title.
Managing, always a key feature in a baseball game, isn't as easy to do as it should be. Changing your pitcher or inserting a pinch-hitter isn't intuitive at all. There should be an option which says "Change Pitcher" or "Insert Pinch-Hitter" instead of making you go through the "Roster" section when you hit pause. You also can't check out vital information such as who's coming up next and which side of the plate they bat from when you're putting in a relief pitcher. The only time you can start to warm up a relief pitcher is when you're in the field. What if I want to warm him up while I'm at bat so that he's ready when I have to take the field again? I can't do it, and that's annoying.
Another key feature in any baseball game is the presence of lots of statistics. They're here in gobs, but they're not presented the way they should be, especially in the post-game screen. The game statistics should be shown more like a box score and instead you see a box with the players' names and one stat at a time without any way to sort it. Season statistics are sortable any number of ways, but it's a shame you can't check out some of the more fun baseball numbers such as batting average with runners in scoring position or ERA in home games. The basics such as batting average, slugging average and so forth are here, which is adequate but leaves you wishing there was more.
Overall, Triple Play 2000 is kind of like a well-hit ball which reaches the warning track but falls into the arms of the center fielder right in front of the wall. The swing was sweet, but there just wasn't enough juice for a home run.
People who downloaded Triple Play 2000 have also downloaded:
Triple Play 2001, Triple Play 97, MVP Baseball 2005, Tony La Russa Baseball II, VR Baseball - Hardware Accelerated, Tony La Russa Baseball 3, Hardball V Enhanced (a.k.a. Hardball 5 Enhanced), NHL 99
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