WORLD SERIES BASEBALL 2K3 $80. Rating: NNNN ;
TIGER WOODS PGA TOUR 2003 $80. Rating: NNNN
The weather isn't cooperating. This was supposed to be the scorcher of all summers, a pavement-buckling three-month heat wave that would make us beg for mercy and lust for the 30-below horror of February. Not a chance.
Instead, we get mist, rain and trouser weather. It's hardly inspiring for those of us who want to get outside and enjoy the fresh air with, say, a little friendly amateur sport.
So instead, I've been making do with the closest thing.
As yet, there are no video game simulators for road hockey, pickup soccer, vacant-lot baseball or touch football. No one has capitalized yet on the market for a CFL game or a Tour de France sim. All these would make excellent time wasters during summer's dreary days.
Filling the void nicely, though, have been Sega's World Series Baseball 2K3 and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003. There are dozens of golf and baseball video games available for the discerning couch potato, but none come close to these. Even reality is given a run for its money. Over the past few years, video game makers, desperate to hold onto fans who realized that nothing really changes in sports games each season beyond new lineups and the year on the box, have begun focusing on replicating the smallest details of the real deal in their sims. Basketball and hockey were first, baseball a close second.
What makes World Series Baseball 2K3 and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003 so stunning is how this attention to detail rises to an obsessive level. Every tiny aspect of the respective games is available for use here, whether it's warming pitchers up in the bullpen before they come in or putting a tiny bit of spin on the golf ball so it stops dead on the green.
Both these games take geekiness to new heights. Baseball lets you control every aspect of your own destiny, from farm teams and spring training to deadline-day wheeling and dealing.
Golf is even more maddening. You can spend hours working out the finer points of each of your clubs and toying with the real-life strengths of each player. If that doesn't drive you nuts, try building your own damn golf course (it's fun). This game's as infuriating as the real deal, but the urge to toss the works into a lake and quit the game for good is less overwhelming.
A few hours/days with these and you could forget all about the real world. Admittedly, that's probably not a good thing, but so far this summer it's done me quite nicely, thanks.