EA’s baseball franchise is headed towards videogaming greatness one game at a time. Last year’s MVP Baseball wasn’t a one-hit wonder. MVP Baseball 2005 proves the age-old successful sequel formula of “it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”?you just add to it. The series is now a sureshot instead of a coin toss.
The graphical changes may be minor but the little things do count. Those slight upgrades make the overall look of the game superior. The player animations have risen a level and with the help of the deep controls over every aspect of baseball, it makes the game very tight. Now the time between the ball being caught and then thrown by the fielder is so small that it’s seamless. Making mandatory graphical improvements has been an expected practice for EA’s sports games. Every year the next installment of a sports series gets a facelift. A very welcome routine from EA.
Last year’s sound effects where some of the best seen in a baseball game, especially crowd chants. Hearing “A-ROD!” chanted in a stadium can really pump up the excitement and adds a little authenticity to the experience. The crowd is a big part of any sport. The 2005 version of MVP didn’t change much from last year, but there wasn’t much to complain about then, either.
This department is the one that gave MVP Baseball 2004 a a one way ticket to Cooperstown. Every aspect of baseball is controlled by the player: batting, pitching, running bases and fielding, something few games have done effectively. This year most of the novelties are for the batting. The hitter’s eye addition may sound simple but it can be deep in terms of what you can learn about hitting. The ball takes either 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 to be 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 here’s a quick explanation. Pitching happens in two parts. First you have to keep the button, for the selected pitch, pressed down and release it right before 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 pressed the button outside that area, you would get an inaccurate pitch and risk a wild pitch even. This year it’s not that 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” will do just what it says: help make big plays easier to achieve, and, thus, make 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. 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 them are succesful on this endeavor. MVP Baseball 2005 excels in the franchise mode, with the addition of A teams. Now you can manage three levels of minor league teams.
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE
The MVP series from EA is starting to feel comfortable with its new title of the best and most complete baseball game on the market. Any self-respecting baseball fan has to pick up this game. The depth of control and attention to detail make it one of the most realistic and fun baseball games to play. Hope EA’s baseball game reigns for a while, as long as quality efforts like MVP Baseball 2005 come out.