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ups: Franchise mode is a blast; cool extras like baseball cards; some improvement of old problems with the series.
downs: Terrible announcers; graphics could be improved.

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All Star Baseball 2003 Review (GC)
game: All Star Baseball 2003
four star
posted by: GF! Back Catalogue 10/2004 => 1995
publisher: Acclaim
developer: Acclaim Studios Austin
date posted: 09:10 AM Tue Jun 11th, 2002
last revision: 01:08 PM Sat Oct 29th, 2005

By Dan Rudolph

Is there anything better than the smell of fresh-cut grass, a freshly oiled glove, or a hot bag of peanuts at the ballpark? I think not. Is there anything worse than a game that comes out and completely butchers the national pastime, ruins the smells, and makes you wonder why so many people love it? Well, have no worries. The folks at Acclaim have done everything under the sun to make sure that didn\'t happen --with all 30 teams, 700+ players, the ability to create new players, and now new teams as well, it\'s safe to say they did it again.

Acclaim has always been able to balance the scale to fit both casual players who just want to play a couple of games, and those die-hard, I\'ll be sleeping at the front door of Wal-Mart when the next game is released, type of players. All Star Baseball 2003 has all the old options of play like home-run derby, exhibition game, series, and season, but it also has many new attractions that make it enjoyable for all players. There are three features that really stand out: the \"Franchise Mode,\" the \"Expansion Team,\" and the new \"Player Card\" idea.

To be honest at first the idea of a \"Franchise Mode\" seemed pretty weak--the whole idea of increasing the longevity of a baseball game never seemed like that big of a problem. Honestly who is going to play a 162 game season that takes a year to complete and then start up another one? (If you do then I bow to your greater baseball guru status.) Well what I didn\'t see was how fun it is to have a 23 or even 56 game schedule, which is a quick way to finish a whole season. Once I made this startling conclusion the game completely engulfed me. There is nothing better than finishing the year and having your players get all the awards, being able to have your draft go awesome and grab some great players.

The ability to pick a city close to your hometown, pick some players, and start a franchise near and dear to your heart is also a gripping feature. All Star Baseball 2003 is the first baseball game released by Acclaim that has the option of creating a whole new team. Being able to create the team and even the players makes this game so versatile that it\'s hard to not get excited when I think about it. In ASB 2003 the \"Expansion Mode\" is very versatile. The game gives you the opportunity to pick from a lot of cities to base your team in. Also you have the choice of a lot of great mascots, plus you get to choose from 6 new baseball stadiums. This new feature is truly this game\'s claim to fame.

Also with every season game you play you have the possibility to win points. And thankfully in All Star Baseball 2003, for the first time, you don\'t use points to buy Big Bat Mode, or Infinite Out Mode; you win baseball cards. What better gift could a baseball game give to a player than a Mickey Mantle rookie card? Of course the cards are not real, but nonetheless it is pretty cool to win a game and have 23 points or so and go buy two packs of cards from the \"Card Shop.\" This new feature really brings out the kid in the player and gets me all pumped every time I open a fresh pack of baseball cards.

Acclaim also added some components of the game that makes it game much more realistic than any other baseball game on the market. One really cool addition is that every once in a while you will hit a \"broken bat single.\" Yeah you heard me, a broken bat single; the thing actually breaks and pieces go flying everywhere. Also the speed of the runners compared to the speed of the outfielders, and the speed of their arms, are all very accurate and do not favor either the defense or runner. These new components really strike at the heart of us baseball gurus. The reality that a hit and run and then a bunt to score the winning run is feasible in this game should really appeal to all baseball fans. Not to say that once you get the hang of things you can\'t hit your fair share of home runs, because you do. ASB 2003 makes it so you can\'t just sit there and play a softball game with home run after home run, like some other games I know (cough... Triple Play... cough....). Also the batter to pitcher interface that ASB 2003 has is very similar to 2002 with a few upgrades. The pitching accuracy and bat speed is absolutely flawless as well as the style of different hitters. All of this adds up to wonderful controls and very gripping game play that is filled with excitement with every swing of the bat.

Acclaim did a couple of additional things that really make me happy. They fixed some of the old problems, you know the little ones, like the fact that the computer now will take a freaking strike without swinging the bat. Also the computer players no longer make sub 4.0 forty times when they run after a ball. However, they didn\'t fix all of the problems.

For one the announcing is often delayed and sometimes takes place after the play occurs. This drives me crazy when my batter hits a home run, then two batters later the announcer screams, \"Hasta Luego Senore Pelota.\" What? What game is he watching? Another issue is that the graphics of the crowd are a bit flat and the faces of players can always be improved, and this game has a lot of room for improvement in that area.

All Star Baseball 2003 is a must have game for any baseball fan. Just beware-- you may become addicted and it will never let you go!

Dan Rudolph (06/11/2002)