3 out of 5
The more mature baseball simulator in the series
The Hardball series
has had its mix of better and worse games in the series. But, generally they've managed to improve the gameplay with every new iteration, and so, by the time Hardball 4 was released, the mechanics as well as the graphics were rapidly approaching a very good place, where the games began to actually be fun and easy to control.The most immediate noticeable change that Hardball 4 brings to the series is a far better set of graphics, with better animations, much better collision detection and also a far easier on the eyes system to control the ball and know where it is going to go. Thus, pitching is no longer a chance game, you have lots more control at this stage and also, all the other stages of the game are much better simulated. Make no mistake however, if you take a good look at the mechanics of the game, this is more of a collection of simple minigames, which will test your speed and reflexes but less so your tactical thinking. One simple detail makes the ball much more visible – it's trajectory is highlighted with a persistent trail, similar to a mouse pointer that has a shadow delay. This simple graphic detail, coupled with animations that were captured with the help of actual players puts Hardball 4 on the verge of modern baseball simulation. However, it will take some time for the games to actually become easier on the player and to introduce some mechanics that let you find a better balance of simulation and player enjoyment.