989 Sports

989 Studios


MLB 2001 Review

By: John Doe

The Boys of Summer are back at it and 989 hits a homer with their latest incarnation of the MLB series! Returning this season is the innovative Total Control Batting and Fielding, which allows you to play the game like the big boys.


With three baseball games on the market (and more coming) America's favorite past time is well represented on the home consoles. 989 Studios has revamped last years game giving MLB fans a whole lot to like this time out. The attention to detail in the stat tracking alone is enough to keep trackers busy for the rest of the year, and there is so much more. A higher polygon count allows for smoother animation and more realistic players, trading, player creation and the ability to call up from the minor leagues eliminates outdated rosters, tough yet rewarding opponent AI makes the game play more realistically and the list goes on. Simply put, if MLB 2001 doesn't fulfill your baseball needs then you're either really picky or not a baseball fan.

The cool thing about MLB 2001 is that 989 took the time to make this game as easy or as involved as you want it be. If you are a casual gamer that digs baseball, you'll be able to get up and running quickly, thanks to the Quick Start controls, which simplifies batting, pitching and fielding. If you are seasoned vet, then head for the Advanced Control option because the Total Control Batting/Pitching/Fielding features are not only innovative, but are really the only way to get maximum enjoyment out of MLB 2001.

Quick Start batting simply involves two buttons: The X button for swinging and the O button for bunts. In contrast, the Total Control batting offers: power hits, moving your position in the box, open/close stance, and the ability to guess the pitch location and what kind of pitch it will be. Base Running allows speed bursts, feet first/head first slides, hit and runs, steals, advance all runners and more. At first all of the options are overwhelming, but the more you play, the more everything becomes second nature. My only complaint is with the limited amount of pitching options. I was hoping for a little more than 4 pitches (fast, slider, curve and change). Once the pitch has been selected you set its trajectory with the d-pad, but there is no power meter for harder or slower pitches. Playing out in the backfield is a treat due to options at your disposal. As has become the norm in baseball videogames, the 4 buttons on the controller correspond to the bases - circle is 1st base, triangle is 2nd, square is 3rd and X is home. Your man in the trenches can also jump, dive, throw to the cut-off man, throw from knees, rob a homer and even has some special throws and catches.

As you'd expect, all of the players and stadiums are present. If the rosters change, simply use the games Rosters feature which allows trading, drafting, free agents and creation of new players. Players who want to play GM, will have a field day with the amount of freedom in MLB 2001. The game modes are all here as well - Quick Start, Exhibition, Season, Playoff, All-Star, Spring Training and even the popular Home Run Derby.

Musically the game features some great snippets of tunes to give the game a real ballpark atmosphere. You'll hear Aretha Franklin (R-E-S-P-E-C-T), Sam the Sham (Wooly Bully) and BTO (Takin' Care of Business) and others as you step up to bat or hit a homer. Vin Scully and Dave Anderson return to the commentary chores and although the voices fit perfectly with the action, it does get old on repeated plays. The background noises such as fans cheering and stomping, hotdog vendors, organ music is equally excellent and really drive home the ballpark atmosphere.

There are serious contenders in the videogame baseball business and 989 is getting better at delivering a superb quality ball game every subsequent year. If MLB 2001 is any indication, just wait until the PS2 version hits. If you are a fan of MLB, your favorite game just got even better!






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