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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Sports

 

Publisher

Sports Mogul

 

Developer

Sports Mogul

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q2 2002

 

 

- MLPBA license

- User-friendly interface

- Solid simulation engine

 

 

- Lack of on-field control

- Points based financial model

- Too similar to previous editions

 

 

Review: Out of the Park 4 (PC)

 

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Baseball Mogul 2003

Score: 7.5 / 10

 

There was a time when Baseball Mogul was the most exciting text-based baseball game on the market.  Unfortunately, that time may have passed.  Though Baseball Mogul 2003 features the same formula that made the series a hit in the first place, it suffers from a case of same-old, same-old and from the fact that there are better simulations on the market with much greater depth.

 

baseball-mogul-2003-1.jpg (23091 bytes)          baseball-mogul-2003-2.jpg (27144 bytes)

 

I skipped the last few editions of Baseball Mogul completely, so one element of Baseball Mogul 2003 (BM 2003) did seem new to me, and I greatly appreciated it: BM 2003 features a full roster of players from the MLBPA.  Though I have gotten used to depending on fans to generate authentic rosters for my baseball sims, it was a nice change to have them already there and, for the most part, on the right teams.  The press materials also herald the return of play-by-play and the selling of concessions.  Other than that, nothing in Baseball Mogul struck me as new, and certainly nothing comes across as anything close to innovative.

 

Game play is simple and works like this:  players choose a team and then gain control of the teamís finances and personnel.  With the exception of a finance model that features points rather than real dollar figures, the learning curve is minimal.  Most players will be up and running within minutes.  As far as front office decisions go, BM 2003 gives the player almost total control, right down to the price of the aforementioned concessions.

 

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Players have at least some control over every element of running a franchise, though often that control is limited.  Take broadcast rights for example.  There are three options: local television, local television with blackout, or pay-per-view.  Of course, in real life, teams like the Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs have deals with large cable companies to carry their games nationally and regionally.  This yearís Atlanta Braves, for instance, has deals with TBS, Fox Sports South, 

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and ESPN to show nearly every game.  The deals mean big money for the Braves franchise, and the game fails to allow for this.  The idea here may be to level the playing field so every team can compete, but it still doesnít feel right that the Expos have the same broadcast options as the Yankees.  (A note:  larger market teams do make more from their local rights than small market teams, so you would be forgiven for saying this was picking at nits.)

 

Other aspects of the game face similar limitations; the feature exists, but there is no depth in its implementation.  This problem is seen in trades, free agent negotiations, farm system manipulation, and the fantasy draft.  The fact that all of these features exist speaks volumes about the love and effort that went into this game; the fact that they are implemented with a minimum of options means that they will not truly satisfy the hardcore baseball fan.

 

Still, all of the above could be forgiven if the actual baseball engine was satisfying.  Unfortunately, this is where Baseball Mogul truly fails to deliver.  BM 2003 allows players to set their lineup, pitchers, and defense.  It allows players to choose team preferences for hit and runs, sacrifice bunts, and squeeze plays.  And, that is it.  Players can not take control of the action on the field in any way.  No pinch hitters, runners, or relievers.  Nada.  If you are looking at Baseball Mogul as a text-based baseball sim, then look elsewhere.  All of the work is done for the player by the gameís stats engine.  Itís a good engine, mind you.  Season after season pitchers, batters, and teams performed pretty much in line with what you would expect.  The problem for me was that I never felt that I was involved in the numbers.  Ten years into the franchise with a team populated by rookies and aging free agents, I felt a little more of a connection, but still not the level of achievement I feel while coaching a team to a World Series in Dynasty League Baseball or Strat-o-Matic.

 

In the end, that is Baseball Mogulís biggest problem.  The inability to get down in the dugout with your team completely neutralizes any joy that might be had in building the team in the first place.  I wanted to like the game.  For an easy-to-understand, user-friendly PC game, I spent an inordinate amount of time with it before starting this review.  I wanted to like it a lot, but, in the end, I only liked it a little.  Is it so bad that Iíll erase it off my hard drive soon after posting this review? No.  In fact, Iím likely to come back to it every couple of weeks and play through another season with my, now struggling, Braves franchise.  Maybe by the time Baseball Mogul 2004 rolls into town, the game will have grown on me.  I only hope that next yearís edition features the ability to coach your team pitch-by-pitch.  Without that feature, Baseball Mogul will continue to lose ground to its competitors.

 

- Tolen Dante

 

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