I'll admit it: I haven't played a baseball game since KEN GRIFFEY JR. on the N64. But I've been on a weird baseball kick the past few months, and when a copy of WORLD SERIES BASEBALL 2K3 showed up from Sega, I had to pop it in and get into the game. Now I'm a couple weeks into a 162-game season, and loving every single second of it.
The game, along with the rest of the Sega Sports lineup, has been renovated with the ESPN game cast, and the presentation is excellent. One small annoyance is the game telling me there isn't enough space on my memory card, even though I have a saved game that I'd rather it just auto-load.
The game supports all of the modes that fans will want including a season mode that allows you to play through different sized seasons. The franchise mode is very deep, allowing you to scout talent from different areas, control time spent by different coaches on different areas of play, fire/hire coaches, trade players, resign players, etc. Basically, you name it, and you can probably do it. Fans of baseball will get a kick out of the massive depth that the game has.
Besides the plethora of gameplay modes that will keep fanatics happy, there is a very deep gameplay system. Pitching is pretty simple, and you'll have to be tricky and vary your pitches and placement around the strike zone. I don't throw a lot of balls, and have had some games where I have had quite a few strikeouts, maybe too many. The hitting game feels about right, I've had some games where I've gone all out, and other games where I've only had three or four hits. Every aspect of the game screams quality though. I have a ton of enjoyment just sitting around and playing a game every day, or when I need a break from what I'm working on. Given that 9 innings only lasts about thirty minutes, it's a nice break.
What's so cool about the game is that anyone can pick up and play, and can get into the deep simulation that the game is. I like that fact a lot. I haven't really played a lot of baseball games, the one I got the most into (even recently with my E-READER) is the old NES BASEBALL. Yet WORLD SERIES BASEBALL 2K3 took me a couple games to get used to, and to be competitive while playing. It's nice to be able to get into a simulation game only a few hours in (although I do know quite a bit about baseball... Go Huskers!).
The game holds to Sega Sports traditional excellent graphics. Each stadium is well modeled and looks great. There are plenty of animations for the different plays, including great ones for errors and basemen pulled off the bag by a bad throw. Each pitcher has their pitching style and the batters all have different stances and swings as well. The attention to detail is astounding, and it pays off quite well.
The sound is also pretty well done. The commentary gets a bit stale after a while, but you can skip a lot of it (while someone is coming to the plate or such). When you do have to listen it's not bad, but it just doesn't go the 162-game distance. All of the other sound effects are well done from the swing of a bag to the thud of a ball being caught in a glove.
WORLD SERIES BASEBALL 2K3 is an excellent baseball title that any fan of the sport will love. It's definitely worth at least giving a try if nothing else.