Search For Posters!
  Join the SGN staff!
Help Wanted
Release Dates


About Us

The Sports

Partner Links
Auto Insurance Quote
Irvine Moving Companies
LA Moving Companies
Brand Name Shoes

Triple Play 2000 (PC)
Hands-on Preview

Publisher: EA Sports
Release Date: Spring 1999







We finally got a chance to take a look at one of the more highly anticipated titles of each new season: the latest offering from EA Sports. As you are no doubt aware (have you seen McGwire tearing up the Grapefruit League?!), baseball season will shortly be upon us. That means a new release of EA Sports' now-venerable Triple Play series.

EA sent us a preview copy of Triple Play 2000 (TP2K) and, once I got it running, it turned out to be a pretty cool game. Word of warning: when they say you need the latest graphics drivers, they aren't kidding. I think I was one release behind on the 3Dfx Voodoo2 drivers and the game wouldn't load at all for me.

Once I got it working, however, I could tell that not all was complete in graphics land for EA. Playing with my dual-Voodoo2 SLI rig, the game had numerous patches of what can only be described as static (areas of the screen, lots of them, that weren't drawn and were just distracting patches of gray and black). Switching to straight Direct 3D on my Matrox Millenium G200 fixed a manner of speaking. All of the static spots became white. Oh, well, at least they were easier on the eyes. It made hitting pretty difficult as it is near impossible to pick up a white baseball leaving the pitcher's hand when the center field wall and billboard are solid white!

One of the most common knocks against EA is their predilection for favoring eye-candy over gameplay. Considering how "un-done" the graphics were, and how close-to-done the gameplay seemed to be, it appears that EA may be reversing their priorities on this one. And gamers only stand to benefit from that re-focus.

Triple Play 99 wasn't one of my favorite baseball titles last year (see the eye-candy vs. gameplay comment above). With TP2K, however, EA may have addressed most of the faults of last year's pretty, but extremely flawed, effort.

Gameplay was much more realistic in this year's model. While I was pitching, for example, the AI hitters chased pitches while trying to protect the plate. And, occasionally they'd just stand there and blink as an unexpected fastball blew down the middle of the plate. They were not super-human, incapable of being fooled. That, alone, made the game much more fun.

A common difficulty with all baseball titles is the control of the runners ahead of your hitter. There's no way that a player can accurately control what all of the runners are doing at a given time-one simply has to rely on the AI built in to the game. This was one of the things I hated most about TP99: the runners were idiots. I frequently would have pop flies or line drives to infielders which resulted in double plays as the AI runners would inexplicably run just as the catch was being made. The AI seems significantly more intelligent in TP2K.

I can't speak much more about game specifics without seeing final code, but I will say that TP2K looks very promising at this point. I have some reservations about some of the other aspects of the AI (specifically, the opposition manager's intelligence regarding pitching substitutions), but I'll reserve judgment for now.

The game does feature both the Major League Baseball and the MLBPA licenses, so there's no distracting fake names to take you out of the game. The players also have facial expressions which change according to what's happening in the game (they look mad at themselves after taking a third strike; they grimace and point menacingly after being beaned).

One other thing I hope they throw into the final version: a more reliable way to speed the game along as necessary. There was a lot of waiting while pointless animations ran (throwing the ball back to the pitcher), with the treatment of foul balls being especially egregious: you have to hear the ball go foul, then watch your idiotic fielders run aimlessly in the general area of the foul ball without ever picking it up, then you often have to see a (non-skippable) replay of the foul. All this for a pitch that doesn't even count against the batter when he has two strikes! Definitely would benefit with a skip key of some sort.

Also, the audio needs some tweaking. The play-by-play was often behind the game, with a lot of strange pauses. For example, playing as the Cardinals, seemingly every time the announcers wanted to talk about Ray Lankford, there would be a delay in the commentary before and after the name Lankford. I didn't hear this with any of the other announced names, though, so I hope it's due to a last minute pronunciation correction or something and will be polished prior to release.

In closing, I have to say I'm surprised by the amount of fun I had previewing TP2K. It isn't perfect, but it appears to be a good, solid offering with the potential to be near-great by release.

Be sure to join us for an in-depth review of the product when the gold code is available!

By: Rick Worrell 3/18/99

© 1998-2006 Sports Gaming Network. Entire legal statement. Feedback

Other Links:
[Free Credit Report  |   Car Insurance Quotes  |   Designer Shoes  |   Outdoor Equipment

MVP Baseball 2003
Street Hoops
Mad Catz Xbox Hardware

Inside Pitch 2003
MLB Slugfest 20-04
Tennis Masters Series