High Heat 2004


posted 4/16/2003 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: PS2
Playing high heat really reminds me of what baseball used to be like in 1998 and trust me, this isn’t a bad thing. Let’s take things back to a time where every other batter wasn’t cranking out 50 homeruns. When double-digit scores were rarely seen and when a 9-inning game didn’t take 4 and a half hours to complete. Ah yes the good old days. I haven’t felt this great since, well the last time I played High Heat 2004.

While I haven’t exactly enjoyed everything that the 3DO Company has tossed my way I have always heavily anticipated each and every release of its perennial baseball franchise, High Heat. When it comes to a realistic and deep baseball experience High Heat is unparalleled. I was introduced to the series back when Sammy Sosa’s name was attached to it and fell in love with it when he hopped into the commercial and said, “It’s sooo weeeel!” Oh yes folks, for me this has been a rather long and illustrious love affair.

Last year’s game was another impressive entry into the franchise. It added better graphics, better ball physics and a heavily addicting 2-on-2 mode. The 2004 iteration of the game doesn’t do too much to drastically change the landscape of the game but if you’ve ever played High Heat you’ll know that this is actually a good thing. What has changed is that the game looks a little better than last year’s title, featuring some better player models that, albeit look a little weak in comparison to the competition, really get the job done.

When you start up the game you’ll have the usual choice of modes, exhibition, season and franchise modes are all available for your enjoyment. Franchise mode is probably where you will spend the majority of your time. You can develop players in the minors from AAA all the way to A, create your own players and of course, trade for other players. I liked the AI of the other GMs as they seemed to reject one-sided trades and opt for the fairer ones.

The player models are a bit weak, but cinematic camera angles do a great job of covering up the deficiencies.

I wanted to see how realistic of a game this was so I decided to sim an entire season with the game. Here are some of the things that stood out to me. The best pitcher in the AL was David Wells with a 20-1 record while the NL’s best pitcher was Tom Glavine with a 24-2 record. The Dodger’s Shawn Green led the majors with 76 dingers while Barry Bonds had a reasonable 65. The AL Champs was the Oakland A’s while the Rockies too it all to the way to the big game. Most of the preceding stats seemed to make a whole lot of sense, until you get to the Rockies part that is. I’m not sure what it is with the game but I tried to sim another season just to be sure, sadly the Rockies took the NL West yet again.

Random oddities aside the game is pretty realistic and you’ll see this the moment you step out into the field. While the pitcher/batter interface still uses the push the direction and swing system as opposed to a cursor-based one, I feel that it’s the most realistic and effective one of this year’s bunch. It feels the most realistic and is also the most satisfying. The best part is that it’s not overtly complicated and even newbies can get a firm grasp of it.

When batting this is one of those games where you’ll want to lay off and see some pitches. This has a dual purpose, not only to make the pitcher throw more strikes but it allows you to get a feel for the pitches and their motions. The pitching physics is the best in the business and it really allows you to get a gauge on the pitcher as opposed to the generic randomness that passes for other game’s pitcher/better interface.

Take Randy Johnson for instance. In other games he’s just another generic pitcher with an extra burst on his fastball. In High Heat he’s a dominating pitching machine, complete with sweeping curves, tailing fastballs and a devastating heater. You never know what he’s going to throw at you and in most cases you’ll end up looking like a fool when going up against him. He’ll keep you on your toes during every single at-bat and chances are you’ll returned to the dugout frustrated, just like in real life.
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