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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre: Sports

 

Publisher

SCEA

 

Developer

989 Sports

 

Released

March 2004

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

 

- Robust career and franchise mode

- Online play

- EyeToy compatibility

- Improved visuals

- Headset compatibility

 

 

- Few graphical problems

- Pitching is annoying at times

- No roster updates

- AI has its ups and downs

- Weak commentating

 

 

Review: MLB 2004 (PS2)

Review: MVP Baseball 2003 (PS2)

Review: World Series Baseball 2K3 (PS2)

 

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MLB 2005

Score: 7.7 / 10

 

MLB 2005 is 989 Sports second attempt to re-create AmericaĎs pastime for the Playstation 2. Those who played last yearís version were probably horrified by the lackluster visuals and terrible game play. Baseball is probably the most competitive field in sports videogames as companies such as EA Sports, Acclaim, Midway, and ESPN Videogames (formerly Sega Sports) all have their games on the market or are about to ship their games. While MLB 2005 is a major improvement over last yearís game, is it enough to claim this yearís baseball crown?

 

mlb 2005 ps2 review          mlb 2005 ps2 review

 

The team at 989 Sports went back to the drawing board and retuned the entire game. Most aspects of the game represent a simplified version of baseball, but MLB 2005 still manages to provide an enjoyable experience, with quite a bit of depth.

 

The game shines in three areas: the franchise, career and online modes. The Franchise mode closely represents the owner mode in Madden 2004 Ė you have control over all aspects of your team from on-field to off-field operations.

 

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For the off-field operations you can control ticket prices, upgrade team facilities, team promotions, maintain your stadium, set food prices and so on. Your teamís income will be affected depending on your managing style. Your off-field operations are extremely helpful for bringing in extra income to pay the whopping salaries of your players and managers. If your team is not performing well financially, then you can opt to take a loan from a variety of different companies. Each company offers different 

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loans with different interest rates and paying periods. Youíll also get feedback from the players and fans thatĎll make recommendations. In the franchise mode you can play multiple seasons and after each season youíll see your players skills progress. While this feature isnít revolutionary, it shows some attention to detail. The only addition that MLB needs to its franchise mode is the addition of Minor League teams.

 

The career mode differs considerably from the franchise mode. In the career mode youíre given the task of creating a player and building a franchise around that player. At the beginning of the career mode youíll go through spring training with your coaching staff closely monitoring your custom playerís performance. If your player performs well then youíll be offered a contract, if you perform poorly, then your career comes to an abrupt end. Also included are a list of short-term and long-term goals such as season awards and induction into the baseball Hall of Fame.

 

Like NBA Shootout 2004, MLB 2005 features a robust online mode. The game supports dial-up and broadband players and is smooth no matter what connection you have. There are a lot of options that come packed in the online play. There are message boards, surveys, and you can even set up your own tournaments. The stat tracking system is impressive with over twenty-five categories. Roster updates are a norm in todayís online sports games, but donít expect any from MLB 2005. Itís surprising to see such a robust online mode missing one of the basic features of any online sports game.

 

(Something else missing and a common omission shared by all the baseball games on the market this season, is the absence of San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds. The result of this problem is a weak San Francisco Giants team. The reason that Bonds was a no show in this yearís baseball titles was because his membership for the MLB players association expired.)

 

If youíve ever played High Heat Baseball, then youíll feel right at home with MLBís batting interface. There are three different types of batting levels. Each difficulty level (rookie, veteran, all-star) has itís own unique control for batting.  If youíre playing on rookie, than all thatís required is for you to time your swing in accordance with the pitch. If youíre playing on veteran, then you can use the left analog stick to control the direction of the swing. On the all-star mode, there are nine zones and you must attempt to cover three of the zones. If you fail to do so, then youíll have trouble making good contact with the ball. If youíre batting, you can also attempt to guess the pitch the pitcher is about to throw. By holding the R2 button and pressing anyone of the corresponding pitch buttons. If you guess the pitch correctly, then your hitting power will increase by ten percent. The only upgrade the batting system needs are check swings.

 

The pitching is fairly straight forward, but there is one minor annoyance. When pitching you can change the location of the pitch by using the pitching cursor. If youíre throwing a breaking ball, the cursor doesnít show you where the trajectory of the ball should be. Youíll usually have to estimate where the pitch will drop. This will result in a large number of balls being thrown, rather than strikes. You can change the velocity of the pitch using the ďXĒ button. If you tap it during the duration of the pitch then youíll throw an off-speed pitch, but if you hold the button during the duration of the pitch, then youíll throw heat. Itís a good idea to alternate the speeds of your pitches, as itíll affect the stamina of your pitcher.

 

Compared to MVP Baseball, MLBís fielding is pretty inferior. Fielding is pretty easy; in fact itís a little too easy. Even with errors put at the highest level, youíll rarely see fielding errors and youíll usually make many outstanding plays without a single error. The computer AI ranges from extremely good to extremely poor. Thereíll be times when the computer will make beautiful diving catches, but thereíll be other times when the computer wonít even go after balls within their reach.

 

mlb 2005 ps2 review          mlb 2005 ps2 review

 

MLB 2005 has two nice innovations, which prove to help the game greatly. First off, you can use the PS2 EyeToy to stick your face on the body of a created player. Like NBA Shootout 2004, you can also use the PS2 headset to speak different commands to your teammates. You can change the fielding formations, base running strategies and call out different pitch types.

 

One of the most recognizable differences in this yearís game from last yearís game are the visuals. Everything in the visual department has been vastly improved. Most of the batting stances, player faces and pitching motions are spot on. There are a lot of minor details, which contribute to the overall atmosphere of the game. As the game progresses youíll see dirt and grass accumulate on the uniforms of the players. There are a few rough spots in the graphics. There are visible clipping problems, as youíll usually see multiple players running through each other. There are other times when players at the plate will sometimes find themselves outside the batting box and sometimes the catchers will be out of place as well.

 

Vin Scully and Dave Campbell provide the commentary for the game while Matt Vasgersian provides the statistical information. The commentating is pretty bland and boring for the most part. The commentating doesnít sound authentic or even generic. The game does make up for it in with itís number of excellent music tracks.

 

Itís amazing how much difference a year can make and MLB 2005 is a perfect example. MLB 2005 might re-kindle your devotion to the franchise. MLB 2005 is aimed towards those looking for a simple baseball game. With so much competition MLB 2005 manages to hold its own as an enjoyable experience that should be checked out by baseball fans.

 

- Siddharth Masand

sidd@armchairempire.com

(April 22, 2004)

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