MVP Baseball 2004
MVP Baseball 2004 delivers a highly caffeinated version of the famous American sport, which itself isnâ€™t a problem. Itâ€™s an amazing arcade game, with superb controls, clever batter-pitcher mechanics, and the typically superlative EA Sports presentation filled with flashy graphics. All of the trappings of the sport are present: the atmosphere, the sounds, plenty of modes of play, an obvious reverence for classic teams and stadiums, and tons of incidental animations that make it look more like the TV version of the sport than any game ever created.
But as with most of its line, EA Sports wants to have it both ways. It wants this to be seen as a â€œserious simulation of baseball,â€ and on that count it falls apart. Itâ€™s all surface; all of the details are wrong. You donâ€™t have to be the most anal stathead or amateur sabremetrician to see that for all of the eye candy and surprising nuances (full minor leagues? Yeah!), parts of the game are just totally wonky.
The Dynasty mode, which is for those detail freaks, features weirdnesses like teams carrying 10 position players on a 25-man roster, strange player progressions in the minors (as in they donâ€™t progress at all), and stats that are kept only for career totals but not per season. In arcade mode, itâ€™s impossible to walk players, balls still reach outfielders so quickly you can almost throw runners out at first, the computer regularly lets pitchers hit in key situations.
All of the cool details do a remarkable job compensating for some of the fundamental brokenness of other parts of the game. Patches are in the works (one was available shortly after the game shipped), and fans are already modding the game to make the Dynasty mode actually work. Eventually, MVP Baseball 2004 may be the world-beater itâ€™s so close to beingâ€”itâ€™ll probably reach that level in time for MVP Baseball 2005.
System Requirements: Pentium II 700 MHz, 64 MB RAM, Win98
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