Tony La Russa Baseball 3: 1996 Edition

by Alfred Giovetti
Price $39.95
Release: August 96
Genre: baseball simulator (sports)
Developer: Stormfront Studios
Publisher: Stormfront Studios, 4000 Civic Center Drive, Suite 450, San Rafael, CA 94903
Phone: 415-479-2800
Requirements: 486 DX 66 MHz, SVGA graphics card, MS-DOS 5.0, 8 MB RAM, 11 MB hard disk space, 2X CD ROM drive, mouse, sound card, optional joystick

History: Stormfront sudios has produced some of the best baseball games ever released. You might say that Stormfront specializes in baseball games. Tony La Russa looks good, plays good, and feels good, so lets turn off that national anthem and play ball.

Plot: You play one game or an entire season with some pretty amazingly comprehensive stats.

License: 1995 and 1996 statistics and players and Oakland A’s manager Tony La Russa are the featured licenses for the game. The new version of the game represents an update for the 1996 stats up to March 1, 1996, the 1996 spring training stats. The team disks are now an extra cost add-on called Old Time Baseball, which has more than 12,000 players listed from 1871 to 1981, 16 ballparks, and a time machine feature that lets you pick teams and players from every era and combine them for fantasy games. The system adjusts the historical statistics so that they can play together in whatever time period you desire.

Game play: Easy to move the players around the bases and the field. Batting is quite standard. Moving the players around the field is quick and responsive. There is no latency between keyboard or joystick commands and movement on the screen. One downside is the inability to control where you swing in the zone when batting. Since the batter has a mind of his own, he will often refuse to swing at some pitches since he doesn’t like the look of them. Pushing the button repeatedly does no good, and you may strike out simply because the batter will not swing outside the zone.

Artificial intelligence: The fielding choices and throws to bases are on the money. When you control the batter he thinks for himself after you select your strategy of contact, power, and normal. Players seem to play the way they should save in the area of errors. Most players hit, field and pitch like they do in real life.

Situational Stats screen has more stats than you could believe. Internet support includes downloading stats by modem from within the game during the current season. Stats change as the game progresses making the player development more interesting than games where the stats do not change.

Modes: Manage and General Manager Challenge are the two basic modes. You can also control the pitcher and batter, although the batter does think for himself making batting less than rewarding. Many (see reviewers below) believe that the GM Challenge needs a bit of work. Special mode allows you to quickly generate an entire season of play to see how the teams perform.

Views: The four views change to follow the plays.

Graphics and Animation: The players’ animations are much improved. The players were rendered over live action films of the players. The same process has been used by Microprose for their graphic animated adventures and in the movies by Ralph Bakshi. The game will play in 640x480 pixel high-resolution, ultra-realistic mode with incredible detailing.

The details on Fenway Park and another 28 major league stadiums are used as the backgrounds to the action and are very real when compared to last year’s efforts. The game supports 900 players and their statistics. The choppy animation is now running smoothly in all parts of hitting fielding, pitching, and batting.

Voice talent: Announcers Mel Allan, Hank Greenwals, and Lon Simmons. They do not refer to each player by name as seen in other games..

Music score: Great music.

Sound effects: They accentuate the action.

Tutorial: Video tips show actual professional play.

Multiplayer: Play human or computer vs. human or computer at the same keyboard.

Conclusion: The stats are the only new feature in the game and they download free on the internet. Some report the animation is better (smoother) in this version, but if you own the original game, there is not much here to justify the expense of the upgrade. Graphics are the best available in a sports sim, but the game engine lacks the same punch.

Reviewing the Reviewer: Steve Bauman explains his low score, "The excessive error problem has been fixed - by turning errors into hits. Pitchers stats reset to lowest levels after completing a season. There are so many problems with it that it’s rendered virtually useless. The interface is menu hell, rivaling FPS: Baseball for annoyance." Clearly Steve is not a happy camper.

Cheat: Hold down the M, E, G, and A keys simultaneously to increase hitting power while at the plate


Reviews reference:
Zach Meston, Computer Player, August, 1996, volume 3, number 3, pages 58-59, 8 out of 10 (80%)
Jeff Green, Computer Gaming World, September, 1996, pg. 182-184. 4/5, (80%).
Donald St. John,, B, (85%).
Steve Bauman, Computer Games Strategy Plus, issue 70, September, 1996, pg. 128. 3/5, (80%)