WORLD SERIES BASEBALL 2K3 for PlayStation 2, $80. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNNN
Three weeks of non-stop war coverage and crowds of people walking around in protective face masks can get you down.The totally unreal world of professional baseball, where overrated superstars like Carlos Delgado earn $17 million a year, seems like a logical escape from real life. But even better is the ever-expanded playing field of virtual baseball.
Baseball has continued to suffer from shrinking attendance and overpriced tickets. The fact that no fewer than five different baseball simulation games are currently available, however, shows just how powerful the appeal of America's pastime remains, at least for those willing to sit inside and play in front of their TV.
Most of these games simply duplicate themselves year after year, building on established platforms to incorporate new lineups and sharper graphics. It's a rare sports game that can actually improve on the previous year's incarnation, and Sega's World Series Baseball 2K3 is the best of the bunch.
Sega has wisely realized that people won't pay $80 for updated rosters and a new camera angle. As with the rest of their sports games -- NBA 2K3, NHL 2K3, NFL 2K3 -- World Series Baseball 2K3 works hard to create what's perhaps the most complete sports experience possible without actually stepping onto the field.
You expect the graphics and action to be incredibly realistic; it's the extra touches that make the difference. Tired of playing in the concrete tomb that is the SkyDome? Why not play a game in the legendary, now-demolished Polo Grounds. Not impressed with the Jays' new focus-group-designed logo? Suit up in the team's inaugural, equally distressing 1977 uniforms.
It gets better when you play an entire season, not just one game. Those with an annus horribilis can take pleasure in firing their entire staff, getting elbows-deep in the amateur draft and rebuilding the team from scratch.
The game remains the same, but as every cliché-spewing baseball player will tell you, it's the little things that count. A summer indoors never looked so firstname.lastname@example.org