All-Star Baseball 2005 is the latest in the line of ASB baseball games. Acclaim hasn’t significantly altered its All-Star franchise for a few years now. This season Acclaim’s new trick is the FielderCam, which gives you a view that is similar to what an actual player on the field might see.
When All-Star Baseball 2005 starts you will see a load of options and game play modes. They range from Quick Play, MLB Play, Tutorial, Bonus Play Modes, Special Features, and Xbox Live.
Quick Play mode lets you play a head to head Exhibition game with very little set up, where as, MLB Play is where you enter Franchise and Expansion modes. Franchise mode lets you build a dynasty as you play through up to 20 seasons. In Expansion mode you will create a new fantasy franchise team via the expansion draft. You can decide on a stadium location, team mascot, and uniforms, and then participate in the draft. The usual options of setting lineups, making trades, dealing with contracts and so on are present, but Acclaim also has added a point system for player development. This means you have a bigger role in determining the progression of each player. If a player performs well, he’ll earn points that can be used to help build their attributes such as power, contact, arm strength, or to learn a new pitch type and so on.
Bonus Play modes include Pick-Up games where you play an impromptu game with whoever is available, or This Week in Baseball where you take on 21 scenarios of some of the toughest baseball situations and turning points from the 2003 MLB season. As a side note, it would have been nice to have a retry option on this mode and not have to sit through all the loading screens every time you fail a scenario. The Trivia Game is also part of the Bonus Play and is where you test your knowledge of the game. Batting Practice is a regimen of self improvement of the game, and Home Run Derby lets you see who will be the King of the Dingers. There were a number of extra bonus features which was nice.
Special features included Players cards where you must earn points as you play games to buy packs of cards. Player Profiles allows you to track and store your personal stats, and Roster Management allows you to manage your players. In the Special features section there is also Stadium Tours that lets you take a virtual look through all the major league ballparks. You are able to watch a wide range of movies showing America’s past-time in the Multimedia section. Lastly Xbox Live is where you go head to head in an Exhibition game online against another person; you can also download updated rosters.
Graphics for All-Star Baseball 2005 are well done with character models being well drawn and animated, but the animations can be stiff and a little awkward at times and some players have a very grainy looking face. If someone comes up to the plate you canï¿½t really tell who it is with out looking and saying, Who is that?. The players move smoothly throughout the game from a player getting hit by a pitch and limping off to first base to an outfielder diving for a ball in the outfield. The graphics are smooth as the players run, hit, and slide. The pitchers movements are great also. As for the look of the stadiums, they are the best virtual representations Iï¿½ve ever seen. The amount of detail of each park is present, and the sense of scale and depth to each tier is just unbelievable. There are some downsides to the game such as when a fielder picks up a ball even after it looks like it went by them, or the few clipping issues when players are on base. One thing I did like to see is the Umpireï¿½s arms flying around as he calls you out on strike three.
Game audio for All-Star Baseball 2005 is good but not great. Play-by-play and color commentary is made by Thom Brennaman and Steve Lyons along with Oscar Soria of the Arizona Diamondbackï¿½s speaking in Spanish. The soundtrack is really nothing to talk about, but you can use the Xbox’s custom soundtrack feature to fix this. The crowd noises are not great but they do serve their purpose. Fans really donï¿½t seem to yell at players, just cheer when something good happens. The crack of the bat and the pop of the glove all are pretty standard.
As for gameplay in All-Star Baseball 2005 one feature is that up to four-players can play together on the same team and can be assigned to control any position. As for the Xbox Live part itï¿½s sad that only one person can play at one time. Four-player on Xbox Live would have been really nice. Just being able to play 4 on 4 online would have been great.
The fielding mechanics in All-Star Baseball 2005 has a few things that make it easier to field. As you go to make a catch 3 rings appear where the ball will be coming down. As the ball comes closer to the ground you see fewer and fewer rings. This shows you the rate the ball is falling and how fast you must get there. Diving for balls is also very responsive and accurate. There is something called FielderCam which sounds like a great idea, but itï¿½s not that great. FielderCam is a new camera angle to give you the look from the players themselves, but itï¿½s not much fun. The main problem with this new view is you’re given a great view of your player, but not the ball. To start with you must follow arrows and on-screen indicators while controlling the camera with the right analog at the same time to get to the ball and catch it. This is very hard to do. I did not like this view and did not use it very much at all. The one really bad part of FielderCam is that it is the default camera angle for Xbox Live play and This Week in Baseball and can not be changed.
Pitching for All-Star Baseball 2005 works well and is as expected. You select a pitch by pressing one of the buttons a, b, x, y and then move the cursor in the zone to aim. Each pitcher has their own pitches; some have more, some have less. You are able to move the pitch location right up until the pitcher releases the ball. Overall this system works very well.
All-Star Baseball 2005’s batting system gives you your choice of four different batting interfaces: 2D cursor, 3D cursor, zone batting and timing hitting. 2D cursor is for someone who wants more control over your swing direction. 3D cursor lets you customize your swing with tilt up and down for fly balls or grounders, and in and out to pull or slice the ball. Power swing can also be toggled on or off. Zone batting is where you need to push the left analog towards the zone the ball is being thrown into. Timing batting only requires you time your press of the A button to hit. You can also hit by pulling back and then pushing forward on the right analog stick to swing rather than pressing the A button. It is great that you are given different options for batting. This allows all levels of gamers to play and enjoy themselves.
At the end of the day All-Star Baseball 2005 is a good baseball game. There are a few drawbacks like the FielderCam becoming very frustrating at times and no way to turn it off on Xbox Live play and This Week in Baseball challenges. Along with no retry option you can become very annoyed. The 4 player mode is a great feature so you and your friends can play together, but I think Acclaim has to work on the FielderCam and gameplay to make it a stand out title.
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