Inside Pitch 2003


Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 6

Sound: 8

Gameplay: 7

Overall: 7

As sports gamers, we take a lot for granted now. If we don't have real players, teams, stadiums, commentators, or TV endorsements, it's immediately considered flawed. Most people playing these games don't remember when all we had was just the red and blue team in the 80s. That's how games like "Inside Pitch 2003" are shoved to the wayside. Yes, there are better baseball games out there, but it still plays a solid game and this likely could have become a solid series had Microsoft not released their sports division programmers.

There's no franchise mode here. That's the breaker for most people. If micro-managing your team is something you enjoy, this is not a game you should have. It has the basics covered though, with single season play, playoffs, home run derby, the ability to play moments from 2002, and the biggest seller, online play. There's also a unique way to create a player, sending him into a training boot camp to boost his stats.

All of those modes are of course meaningless if the game itself doesn't hold up. "Inside Pitch" does seem a few years behind. It's very basic in both batting and pitching, and there's little you can do when fielding. Batting is simply a matter of guessing where the pitch is coming in and swinging at the appropriate height. Pitching is matter of selecting a position and selecting whether you want it to fall inside or outside the strike zone. A real pitcher would kill for that much control.

That gives the game somewhat of an arcade feel, and that's fine. Unacceptable are the A.I. problems. If you were to miss a ball hit into left field by diving, the other fielders will occasionally just stand around and expect you to make the play. Base running is even worse if the computer takes over, not even comprehending when you're trying a sacrifice fly. About the only thing it does well is bat, selecting pitches wisely and using some minor strategy where required.

It's disappointing how cheap this game looks since it was made specifically for the Xbox. The bodies of the players look like caricatures and few faces are identifiable. Animations are repetitive, stiff, and unconvincing. To make up for the lack of decent looking players, the stadiums are gorgeous. Even the cities in the background (in outdoor stadiums obviously) are polygonal. Shadows are effectively cast across the field depending on the time of day.

The biggest plus to the audio is the ability to play custom music in the stadium during games. It even adds an echo effect. You can only play the first few seconds of each song (up to 50 total) unfortunately, but it is a nice touch. If nothing is on your hard drive, the standard soundtrack plays, including a rather grating remix of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." Commentary is excellent and meaty, with little repetition. Oddly, the crowd is dead the entire game, rarely cheering for anything (even a grand slam) even though a fireworks show erupts in the stadium.

Xbox Live play was the biggest selling point when this game was initially released. Obviously, that's not a factor now. That doesn't mean this title still fails provide a nice diversion from the overly realistic games on the market today, filled with all sorts of meters and deep strategy. This still remains a nice pick up and play title for those who don't live and breathe the game. Die-hards should just head for the latest entries on the market.


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Last updated: Sunday, May 01, 2005 08:30 AM