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MVP Baseball 2005 (Xbox)

MVP Baseball 2005 (Xbox) review


"Americas pastime - baseball. Oh what great memories you bring. Going out to the ballpark with oneís dad, the sensation of catching a foul ball...steroids. Okay, maybe the latter isnít something to reminisce, but who doesnít love a good hot dog and ball game? The MLB has been plagued by recent accusation, but thatís not apparent in a virtual simulation. So why not try out the alternative of MVP Baseball 2005? The game may seem as though itís on performance enhancing drugs, but thatís not the case..."



Americas pastime - baseball. Oh what great memories you bring. Going out to the ballpark with oneís dad, the sensation of catching a foul ball...steroids. Okay, maybe the latter isnít something to reminisce, but who doesnít love a good hot dog and ball game? The MLB has been plagued by recent accusation, but thatís not apparent in a virtual simulation. So why not try out the alternative of MVP Baseball 2005? The game may seem as though itís on performance enhancing drugs, but thatís not the case - at least we can hope.

In a video game world full of visceral action, adrenaline-pumping thrills, and carefully detailed worlds, sports games are somewhat shunned by casual gamers here and there. What MVP Baseball manages to do is play to its main strength, being the actual gameplay, while providing something for everyone. The game has the dynasty and owner modes to suit micro-managers out there, as well as some fun mini games that mix things up a bit. There will be a lot of people just getting out there on the field, but donít be surprised if you find yourself investing a lot of time into the new addition of owner mode.

Ever dreamed about being George Steinbrenner? I see all of you nodding out there...and those of you scratching your heads. Nevertheless, that opportunity has come, minus the actuality of running a real baseball team and spending billions of dollars without going bankrupt (damn Yankees). But what you can do is manage every factor of your virtual MLB team right down to concession prices. Owner mode really puts everything in your hands, giving you total freedom. You start off building your field of dreams from the ground up, which honestly isnít the most fleshed out feature. Youíll get a selection of various dirt patterns, seat colors, locations, and so on. Although this is a disappointment due to the lack of variety in choice, youíll eventually lavish your stadium with additional seats, fireworks, scoreboards, or any other way you see fit. For those who find this to be a bit hectic, then there is another option that is satisfactory.

Returning from last yearís game is Dynasty mode. Itís a fairly basic concept in that you manage your baseball teams, including minor leagues. This revolves around mundane tasks such as taking care of your line-up, any injuries, and trades. The unfortunate thing is there are no simple season or playoff modes, so you have to go through all of this. However, most shouldnít have too much of a problem with this. And thereís always actually getting in the thick of the game and saying, ďI love the smell of pine tar in the morning.Ē

The seriesí key attraction has always been getting out there and swinging for the fences. Donít be surprised to hear that nothing has changed. The game is accessible to any gamer out there, with a slew of difficulties to suit everyone out there. Best of all are the simple controls that fit in with the game quite well. Press one button and you could see the ball leave the yard - who knew hitting a homer could be so easy. And itís certainly a plus when everything responds well to deliver a good looking game.

Visuals have always been a sweet spot for the MVP Baseball series, and that tradition continues with the latest installment. The crisp animations create realism thatís not seen in many sports games. From amazing diving plays to simple throws, everything is at a top notch level. The character design is incredible due to the life-like faces and player models. Heavier players like David Ortiz appear that way, and the facial expressions show a lot of attention to detail from the developers. The best part is that every player is this way. There may be a few people that stand out, such as Manny Ramirez, but everyone can be compared to their real life counterparts. Stadiums are well elaborated in terms of seats, walkways, scoreboards, and so on. Although some of the crowd looks like cardboard figures, this is drowned out by the rest of the visuals.

All the sounds of the ballpark are present in MVP Baseball. Youíll hear little nuances such as the crack of the bat, traffic outside, player introductions over the PA system, and everything else youíd expect at a real baseball game. The cheers of the crowd help add to that authentic baseball feel the game has going for it. All of this is accompanied by some colorful commentary. The cool and collective Duane Kuiper is paired up with his partner, Mike Krukow. The mix of the two different personalities works quite well. Kuiper has that calm voice thatís just easy to listen to, while Krukow is quite the eccentric fellow. His overzealous comments always come into play after exciting moments. The two do an accurate job of calling the game, but unfortunately all of this is brought down somewhat by the soundtrack. Every song that is appears in the game is rock, which is competent with the game. The problem is that there are no big names that stand out, or tracks one would remember. Many may find themselves turning the volume down and listening to the radio when dealing with menu screens. Still, with this being the case, the game provides an overall satisfying audio experience.

Baseball games are long; so itís appropriate that MVP Baseball 2005 has a lot of replay value to offer. The owner and dynasty modes expand to a considerable length. That alone would leave you with many hours. But then add in great online play and mini-games to the equation, and youíve got something special. The online play in a game like this is pretty self-explanatory, but youíre probably thinking, ďwhat are these Ďmini-gamesí you speak of?Ē It may seem awkward to put these in a baseball game, but surprisingly they work quite well. These mini-games include a tetris-style pitching game that was cleverly thought out, and a batting one that has you hitting to specific spots. All of them are satisfying, and add to the longevity of the game. So basically, get ready to hit home-runs and throw fastballs all day.

This just in - MVP Baseball has tested negative for performance-enhancing drugs. So no worries, the game is just that good. From the extremely deep owner mode to the unique mini-games, not one single aspect of the game falls too short. With welcome features from previous iterations in the series stirred in with fresh new concepts that pave way for a bright new future, MVP Baseball 2005 creates a sports video game experience like no other.

Rating: 9/10

amlabella's avatar
Community review by amlabella (September 04, 2006)

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