Round the bases and head for home.
When I first looked at the package for EA's new Triple Play game and saw that the game was simply titled Triple Play Baseball, I thought to myself "Wow, they aren't even pretending that their games are different anymore. How shameless!"
But alas, there is actually some silly reason why this Triple Play isn't technically called Triple Play 2002 (though many vendors call it that), and I guess the future Triple Play's will all have dates attached to their titles. But don't let any of that fool you - Triple Play Baseball is very fittingly titled, because there is absolutely nothing that sets this game apart from its predecessors.
Sure, there are a couple new fields and bonus players and all the rosters are updated, but so what? EA Sports is as ruthless as Capcom when it comes to re-releasing the same game over and over again. So lets pour some ketchup on this hash and dig in.
Graphically, TP is nothing special. The players all look the same and their slow, choppy animation isn't close to being praiseworthy. For that matter, most of the animation is inconsistent. Watching the ball fly across the field is like watching a slide show. If anybody ever gets a hit, everything slows down while the ball is moving. This slowdown actually helps a little with the fielding, but that's not really a good thing.
The control is simple enough, but occasionally you'll battle annoying CPU quirks. Consider this example: A line drive is hit at an angle that puts it on a path between the first and second basemen. You assume that you'll be controlling the first basemen, start running to the left, but instead the CPU decided you should control the second baseman and you're now running away from the ball. Pure frustration.
The pitching is equally easy to pick up, though I've always found 989's MLB system more intuitive. Also, it seems like there are a few pitches that guarantee success, while the rest are dubious. Once a player figures out which will dispatch batters the fastest pitches (high inside slider is indomitable most of the time), they'll fall into using those pitches all the time, making pitching a fairly static element.
Such weaknesses against certain pitches belie a weak AI. There is definitely a formula behind AI pitching and batting, and it's not complicated. The pitcher/batter dynamic is still fun, and Triple Play's emphasis on arcade feel over simulation depth works well.
Batting is easy and pretty fun. You can bear down and try to hit a homer or go for the frozen rope into that right field hole. The sound of the crack of the bat as you let loose on a foolishly thrown fastball compounds your enjoyment to the point that you almost wanna go out and play real baseball. Almost.
Speaking of sounds, TP is pretty decent as long as you dismantle the announcers. I understand the desire to make sports games as realistic as possible, but the stupid announcers with their bobbles, wrong calls, and improper inflections destroy any realistic pretext and seem genuinely fabricated.
There really aren't any new modes, just new names for old ones. There's the obligatory Home-run derby, the Trading game, the Full Season and Exhibition games...everything you've seen before.
In the end, Triple Play Baseball offers pretty much nothing new, yet carries a $40 price tag. If you like all the old modes, then you've probably got a TP game and there's no reason for you to buy this one. It doesn't really do things wrong so much as fail to do things right. Indeed, the waning days of the PSX are upon us.