MVP Baseball 2005

9The basic design in MVP Baseball 2005 will feel familiar. The tri-click pitching meter remains the game’s focal point. It’s fun to use, and allows you to easily change pitch location, effort, and velocity. It’s still way too easy to throw a strike using the meter, and as a result walks are rare, especially when you’re pitching to the CPU. The hitting model is still a bit of an enigma. The new Batter’s Eye is a neat way to pick up a pitch as it leaves the pitcher’s hand. The ball turns a particular color for a brief second, which tips you off on the incoming pitch. It’s gimmicky but effective.

The odd part about hitting is that if you want to try to get the ball into the air, you have to hold up on the analog stick or D-pad. It takes a while to beat it out of your head that swinging low doesn’t mean you’re more likely to hit a low pitch.MVP 2005 is at its best once the ball is put into play. A

fantastic fielding model, combined with surprisingly convincing ball physics, make the game a joy to watch. It has it all: Texas Leaguers, line drives that catch chalk, and even the Baltimore Chop. Another key element of baseball that the game nails down to a tee is managerial AI. CPU managers are very good at pinch hitting and double switching at the right time, and rarely will it do something that seems out of step.

On the field, it plays a pretty good game, but off the field it starts to fall apart. The interface is ripped straight from the console version; this isn’t an uncommon practice, but MVP’s interface is extraordinarily clunky. It takes a series of mouse clicks to find basic player information. When you start a franchise, you can’t even survey other teams’ lineups until you play them. You’re like the owner in the plastic bubble, only able to view your own team.

16While the AI is good on the field, it’s terrible in the front office. Free agency is a joke because you get pretty much your pick of the litter of top available players. If only the real-life Reds could walk in on day one and sign Mark Loretta and Dontrelle Willis to cheap contracts without any other team offering them a deal. It’s equally easy to resign players. In one off-season, Austin Kearns told the Reds GM that he was upset at his playing time and wanted a trade, and then turned around and signed a cheap two-year contract during the resigning period. These kinds of things happen all the time.

You’re left with a tale of two games. If playing a season or playing the role of GM isn’t a big deal, MVP is easy to recommend. But if you want to use all of the game’s features, be prepared for some headaches.

System Requirements: Pentium II 700 MHz, 64 MB RAM, Win98

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