Posted: November 22nd, 2005
EA Sports' last baseball game is MVP Baseball 2005. This is due to an
exclusive licensing deal. How does EA's last effort fare? Find out in
our full review!
Sound

EA Sports is known for having games with great songs to listen to while surfing through menus, which you'll do plenty of
in this game. Although EA only picked 9 songs to choose from, the choices are great. Ranging from rock to indie, the
songs are sure to leave a lasting impression. What I also love is that although most of these have nothing to do with
baseball, they certainly fit the theme. There are also many more five-second clips that play during the game before one of
your batters goes up to bat. It's a nice selection of songs to hear.
I never thought that I would find creativity in the sound section, since it's usually just developers finding the best sounds
to work for each situation. You have to realize that most of the game is like that, too. What's impressive is where the
developers threw some sound effects form the stadium. You'll hear plenty of the usual stadium stuff, but every once in a
while, you'll hear somebody from the crowd yell out something as a hint on how to play. It's rather ingenious, and
something that I never expected. I was pleasantly surprised. I was also pleasantly surprised to hear the stadium's
announcer utter random humorous comments when the game is paused.
This also ties into the two commentators who make the game's calls. They both sound great talking about each play, and
unlike Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004, what they say actually matches what's happening on the screen. You will hear some
lines used a lot, but there are also some lines which are unique. For instance, they may talk about a player's stats and
mention everything about the player. Each stat is unique to each player and so is the line. The game also recognizes many
created players' names and matches it with a line from the commentators.
This is all topped off with Dolby Surround, which really helps to disperse the sound and make the crowd actually sound like
they're behind you. It's very realistic. If there's one complaint, it's that the commentators voices are slightly compressed.
This was likely to save disc space, and many players will disregard this as a commentators muffle. That's nitpicky to say
the least, and I am more than impressed with the sound in this game.
Control

It has always seemed hard to imitate baseball on a game console's controller. Fortunately, I think EA has really nailed the
control's design and layout with this game. A is obviously to hit the ball. Now, it would be too cut and dry to just hit A, and
too easy. The designers implemented a system that allows you to shift the batter's position. Simply hold Z and tilt the
control stick in one direction. Now you can make inside or outside shots. It's something I would never think about, but is
really cool.
Playing in the field is assisted, by showing you where the ball will land. Fielding is pretty easy to get used to. You hold A,
B, X or Y to power up your shot and release to throw it to a base. Each of those four buttons corresponds to a base. I have
a tendency to always throw to first base, which is X, but that only adds to the challenge of quick thinking. Baserunning is
also assisted, but by using L and R, you can intervene. Usually the AI is smart enough to know when not to run for a
double or when to stay, etc.
The AI can be pretty tough, but luckily the game features options to adjust each aspect of the AI to make it easier to win.
Some of the options include the computer players' speed, batting ability and foul ball frequency. It really helps beginner
players get into the game, and can easily be adjusted once you get better. The gradual curve in difficulty is really nice.
Playing the game isn't too tough, and really doesn't require much when on the base, but of course you do have to think
about how to hit the ball. Using the control stick allows you to choose how you want the ball to fly. I still haven't grasped
this concept, even after playing tens of games. The game also doesn't do a good job at telling you the controls. You can also
use the Control Pad to have just one person steal instead of all baserunners. I only found this out after reading load
screens.
There are two mini-games to help you get acquainted with batting and pitching, but the more advanced controls are hard to
learn. I wish there were a video explaining all the controls, or at least a tutorial. And this is not all that minor. It's hard to
play a game that I don't know how to play.
Fortunately, the menu screens aren't too complicated, although you still would wish there was a better set of instructions.
There's so much to do that many people can get confused with all the menus. I don't think anything in this game is sloppy.
The presentation is quite good. I just was hoping for more of an introduction. Fans of the series should know what
everything does and not have to worry about any minor problems. And when it comes to in-games controls, they really
nailed it. So all in all, the game's controls are great.
Graphics

The graphics are pretty good. In a way, it looks realistic.
There's a lot to be desired in the form of sloppy looking
crowds and some weird designs. For the most part, they've
done a solid job. I am pretty impressed with the animations
of the players, and the game's graphics feel polished. There
are some instances that the camera cuts to a player on the
bench that's doing something kind of weird, but it's nothing
much.
The resolution is pretty good, but progressive scan really
brings out any blocky textures. Since progressive scan is
inaccessible for most people, this hardly helps. I was also
expecting a lot more shadows and lighting. It's not bad, but I
was expecting a little more realism. Still, you can easily
appreciate what the final product looks like, and you have to
admire all the effort with the character models.
Replay

When looked at, this game could be played practically forever. I had to look past that and view what there really is to do in
this game. There are several modes, a couple being new. The new owner mode is the one I really got into and played
constantly. It allows you to control the entire team as you own. You create your own ballpark to manage, and promote.
You also have more freedoms, similar to a manager. Other than that, it's essentially the same as Dynasty (Season) mode.
That's not bad at all, considering that both allow for many changes to the game's rosters. You can also literally do
everything you wanted to do as a manager of a team.
The other new mode is the Mini-Games. It's not much of an addition, but provides help for beginner players. It's also fun
to go back as an experienced player to see how well you can do. This all comes back to earning MVP points. These are
related to your profile, which allows you to unlock stadiums, team shirts and even past players. It's a really cool thing to
be able to unlock stuff other than progressing through your season. It really entices you to keep playing, and getting
better.
What's also cool is the other minor additions. You can play as and maintain other divisions, like Minor Leagues teams.
The fact that they have minor leagues in this game is amazing. And on the playing field, if you don't like one of the
referee's decisions, just press B and argue it. This and other minor additions show how to make an already packed game
even more packed with goodies.
Beyond all this is the real reason why this game will win you over. It's the customization. Everything from trading players
to creating ones, this game screams customization. It's really fun to see how you start and how you end, because chances
are somebody else playing the game will have a completely different experience. The ability to quit and simulate the rest of
a game is great. The ability to simulate a game and then start playing in the middle is so cool. Top all this off with
multiplayer support, and you have a real winner. You could spend so many hours, and a game time is not needed to realize
how much there is to do.
Design

The game's developers are extremely creative, to say the least. Every single feature in this game is fun and addictive. I am
also amazed at the amount of depth, and once again I have to mention the customization. What also makes this game
shine is that the little extra things that the developers added here and there make a really fulfilling experience. The end
credits don't just show the names of everyone. During it, a movie of a about a hundred 3-second clips play, showing the
developers just having fun. It's funny and creative. And this is just looking at the outside of the game!
The inside of the game is the core gameplay. The developers have created a pretty realistic experience. You can control
each of your baserunners individually, and even lead off individually. You can easily switch between outfielders and play
each hit just right. What's also great is the batting ability. You really get control with that thing. I know I'm repeating
myself again, but this is all just one great design.
What's great is that besides the controls, the game does allow for beginners to jump in and play. I am thoroughly
impressed with the presentation. The game has a special touch to it that I wasn't expecting. It's simple fun, yet the game
is so complex. Even that in itself is a good thing. This game rewards those who keep playing, and it's rare to find a game
that keeps you coming back for more. It's even more rare when that game is a sports game. The design is excellent.
Scores
Sound

9.0
Control

8.6
Graphics

8.5
Replay

9.2
Design

9.1
8.9
Final Words

This review is coming from someone who really doesn't play much sports and not much sports games. This is also coming
from someone who thoroughly enjoyed Ken Griffey Jr's Slugfest for N64. I must say I was so impressed with this game,
that I really wanted it to score at least a 9.0. It's just some minor stuff with the controls and graphics, and I mean really
minor stuff. I couldn't ask for a better baseball game, and I couldn't ask for anything better for EA's last baseball game.
And at $30, this is a must-buy.
Nintendo Reviews Rating:
Age 6+