GRAPHICS: Old-school and awful.
It's looking increasingly unlikely that there will be any major league baseball this fall, so games like MLB 2003 will soon be as close to the big leagues as you'll be able to get.The makers of this game are clearly optimistic in calling it MLB 2003 (the 2003 season is hardly guaranteed), but here's hoping. Because the game could be facing a lengthy layoff when baseball sims would stand in for the real thing, you'd think the creators of this one would've done more to make it stand out.
MLB 2003 is virtually indistinguishable from MLB 2002, 2001 and 2000. Even the commentary seems to be repeated, with players' names added and subtracted as necessary. There are no concessions to the changes the game has gone through in the past few years (a few Japanese teams thrown into the mix for international flavour would have been nice) and, regrettably, no "strike" command where the players storm off the field in protest.
Neither have the designers dealt with the main reasons why people are leaving the baseball stands in record numbers. The game drags on, and by the sixth inning all you're thinking about is pulling the plug.
For that old-school feeling, I played MLB 2003 on a PlayStation 1. The chunky graphics and Pong-like sensations gave the game a much-needed lift. But for a truly vintage session, play spring training.
Here, you lead a prospect through the grapefruit league in an attempt to secure a spot on the roster. The parks are tiny, there are windmills and giant clown heads behind the centre field wall and, best of all, no advertisements on the boards. The pampered millionaires aside, it's pretty much how baseball was meant to be played. email@example.com
MLB 2003 for Sony PlayStation, $60-$80. Rating: NNN
ANTI-SOCIAL FACTOR: Let the colour commentary be your friend.
ADDICTIVENESS: Would be higher if the game ended at six innings.
PROXIMITY TO THE REAL THING: Strike three!