EA Sports has a history of creating revolutionary sequels, as well as generic sequels to their games. MVP Baseball 2004 was a huge step ahead in the series, becoming one of the top baseball video games on the market. Now, the 2005 installment tries to get some new elements going. Some things are new and some are exactly the same. MVP Baseball 2005 being too much like last year’s iteration is not actually a big problem because of the excellency of that now classic baseball game.
Graphics is where you expect a big improvement from year to year in the EA Sports lineup. This year, however, the graphics don’t quite live up to our expectations, though the game is still visually pleasing. The player models have slightly better animation and some of the minor glitches and bugs have been resolved, which were nothing more than aesthetic mishaps, but it’s good to improve even the small details. The stadiums look as great as they have in the past, but they maintain a cartoon-like style, as do the players. Everything in the game still looks very “gamey” – not lifelike. Like many of the titles belonging to the sports genre, MVP Baseball 2005 has to work hard to create the illusion of reality.
Another improvement is that the ball physics are a bit more accurate and that’s good news for a game with an already great physics engine. Not many changes were made, but the slight improvements contribute to the overall success of the game’s graphics and mechanics. MVP Baseball 2005 is one of the best looking baseball games out there despite having changed very little.
Sound has never been a great problem for the series but, even so, last year’s sound effects were some of the best seen in a baseball game, especially crowds chanting “A-ROD!” in a packed stadium. These details may seem superficial but when you go to a ball game you hear all sorts of weird (and common) chants, and the inclusion of such sounds helps to immerse the player into the game. It’s part of baseball. The soundtrack is another audio highlight. This is where EA Sports shines more than the rest. Nowadays, the EA Sports games have soundtracks that are as good as any movie soundtrack. The 2005 version of the series didn’t change in sounds too much from last year (aside from the soundtrack), but it showcases baseball music through and through.
This department is the one that gave MVP Baseball 2004 a one-way ticket to Cooperstown. The player controls pretty much every aspect of baseball: batting, pitching, running bases and fielding (done by few games effectively). This year most of the novelties are for the batting. The hitter’s eye addition may sound simple but it helps the player to learn more about hitting and requires a quick response. The ball takes green, yellow, red or white colors when it leaves the pitcher’s hand. With this you can train your eye as to which type of pitch you’re facing as a batter and when you should hit the ball. Mainly, this feature will train your hand-eye coordination, so that you can become a better hitter. Also, the batter can be moved around the plate, adding a new level of depth to the hot and cold zones system that has been around for so long now. Pitching remains pretty much the same, except for the addition of yellow zones in the pitch meter. These yellow zones function like buffers when you don’t get to the green area of the meter. For those not familiar with MVP’s unique pitching interface, pitching requires two steps. First you have to keep the button for the selected pitch pressed down, and release it right before the cursor reaches the end of the meter. After that, push the button again when the cursor is about the get into the green area of the pitching meter. When you press the button outside that area, you get an inaccurate pitch and even risk a wild pitch. This year it’s not as drastic, because the yellow areas make up for the lack of accuracy of the button-pressing ability of some of us gamers. Fielding is still the same and probably the most fun aspect to control in the game. The player will literally look for opposing batters to hit the ball so defensive action takes place. Now, “big play control” does just what it sounds like it does: help make big plays easier to achieve, and thus, making the game more enjoyable.
The playing modes are the same in all games, but now the MVP series has what few baseball games out there have. An owner’s franchise mode is what the game has needed for a while – controlling every aspect of a ball club can be more fun than the actual game, for some people. Franchise modes are a must nowadays for any sports game, but not all of them are successful in this endeavor. MVP Baseball 2005 excels in the franchise mode, with the addition of A level teams. Now you can manage three levels of minor league teams.
Making comparisons between consoles and PC versions is a bit unfair, but sometimes the differences are important enough to stress. The biggest problem with the PC version of MVP Baseball 2005 is the keyboard and mouse layout that doesn’t adapt to any sports game very well. Gamers that gave their first gaming steps with a console and a controller will probably prefer the console version of MVP Baseball 2005. There is an advantage for the PC version in that there are many PC-exclusive patches, mods and extras. Ultimately, no matter the platform, if you love baseball, then you’ll love MVP Baseball 2005.