World Series Baseball 98

A fantastic update to an already good baseball game.

Publisher: Sega
Developer: Sega
Genre: Sports

Without a doubt, Sega's World Series Baseball series baseball enjoys a comfortable living at the top. Many baseball titles come and go, but they fail to knock the good ol' bat-and-ball champ from the charts. Now, Sega goes for the bleachers with an almost totally revamped version for the 1998 season.

First, the obvious: Sega went ahead and removed the sprite-based animation of the first two games in the series, and replaced the gang with fully 3D, motion captured atheletes. Players can dive, jump, run and throw like before, but better. They even have a little personality. They dust themselves off, walk off a throw, even duck out of the way of a wild hit. Players finally overrun first base on their sprint after a hit, and you can even charge the catcher for a violent score. The detail is stunning -- someone finally got it right.

The designers also take advantage of the full-3D enviroment with a variety of camera angles. The perspective constantly shifts as the plays of the game unfold. You'll love it when the camera drops to a low angle behind the batter when the ball sails over the fence. A major change in the gameplay is the pitching and batting interface. The pitcher select the sector of the strike zone to pitch into, and the batter must time his hit in the right area. Each batter has his own hot and cold spots displayed in a smaller icon at the bottom of the screen. Even better is the fact that each pitch shows up on this icon as they're delivered. It's great for learning your opponent's pitching techniques. Too bad the real players don't have this.

Everything else from last year's version - season, exhibition, and Home Run Derby modes, as well as full statistics tracking during the season - is here. If you are familiar with last years, you've got no problem here. The one this this game lacks is that there are no player trades.

This is a fantastic update to an already good baseball game. Run out and buy a copy. You just might make your Playstation friends jealous.