Playing it safe. Review

Joe Dodson
MLB 2005 Info

genre

  • Sports

players

  • 1 - 2

Publisher

  • Sony

Developer

  • 989 Sports

Release Date

  • 01/01/1970
  • Out Now

Platform

  • PS2

rating

Playing it safe.

In a world dominated by mediocrity, a proud star shines on those who beat back

the odds, who spit in the multitudinous faces of adversity and who triumph over

the competition: The Best. As Ben Johnson

said of Shakespeare, these things are “not of an age, but for all time.” Or as

dictated by the Highlander movies, “there can be only one.”

Unfortunately, MLB 2005 is neither the best nor the

only one “but

that doesn’t

make it the worst. In fact, it would be the best baseball game out there

right now if it were 2002. But a revolution in play mechanics instigated by those

ingenious tinkerers at EA Sports has supplanted what was once considered strong

gameplay here, and as a result, MLB 2005 feels a little old.

So, MLB is

a bit behind the curve, but it’s still a good baseball game with the usual Exhibition

Mode, Home Run Derby, and Full Season/Playoffs as well as an interesting Career

Mode. Here you create a custom player, and then guide him through Spring Training

and hopefully onto a Major League team. Every time your player reaches a goal

you are awarded attribute points which can be spent to enhance your player’s

game. It’s much like what 989’s own NBA

Shootout
series offers and works well.

MLB also boasts one of the most involved Franchise Modes yet

seen in a baseball game. The degree of influence over the minutest aspects of

a player’s club is staggering, from drafting a team and hiring staff to managing

marketing expenses and buying new gym equipment. It’s about as comprehensive

as you can get and trumps MVP Baseball 2004‘s Franchise in terms of depth.

Still, there are no minor leagues to send players to or pull players from, though

only the hardest of the hardcore will really be bummed out by that. It’s also

a little hard leaving behind MVP Baseball‘s innovative Player

Happiness Meters. You kind of wish 989 had taken more chances here.

The same goes for the gameplay in general; MLB 2005 is very

similar in terms of play mechanics to past MLB games. Pitching

is still done by selecting a pitch with one of several buttons and then throwing

with the X button. The longer you hold X while winding up, the faster

the pitch will be thrown at the cost of greater stamina. The system works fine

but simply isn’t as interesting as the one found in MVP Baseball.

Batting is slightly more complicated than usual this year. The left analog stick controls swing location, while the right analog stick controls ball trajectory. If you hold up on the right analog stick you’ll hit a fly, while holding down will hit a grounder. It’s better than using “power’ and “regular’ swings, but this batting style is hampered by the fact that you’re expected to control two analog sticks and press the X button at the right time, which is a bit awkward.

The fielding mechanics in MLB 2005 are utterly static and unimpressive. If you’ve played a baseball game in the last five years, you should know exactly what to expect. Move the guy, grab the ball, throw it to a base. No innovation here.

But MLB 2005 does boast a few features that will pique interests.

The most accessible feature is a solid online play mode complete with message

boards, easily available and useful information about prospective opponents,

and chat rooms. 989 understands how to build a useful, functional online service

and the one in MLB 2005 is as good as the other games in the

company’s sports

lineup. Unfortunately, someone forgot to include the ability to download updated

rotsers, a pretty big omission.

MLB 2005 also features SOCOM headset support

and comes with a huge list of voice commands the game can recognize. You can

use it to chat with online opponents or to actually control your players; again,

just like what NBA Shootout 2004 offered. A nice thought, but not entirely necessary.

Of even less practical value is the ability to use the EyeToy to

map your face onto the head of your custom player in Career mode. It works well

enough and is a cool idea, but simply isn’t going to benefit many players.

MLB 2005 does mark a graphical improvement over its predecessor.

The animations are crisp if not particularly numerous, the camera angles are

smart and the textures are adequate. It won’t win any awards, but at least it

looks like a next-generation game, unlike the awful MLB

2004
.

The sound is also done well, from the ambient sounds of the ballpark to the crack

of the bat. Crowds chant, people yell – MLB

200
5 sounds like a real baseball game The announcers tended to drone

and are worth turning off, but that’s par for the course in sports games these

days.

There is no doubt that MLB

2005
is a decent baseball game and is genuinely better than the last

offering, but you get the sense that the developers are more spending too much

time with cute bonus features like the EyeToy support and headset

commands rather than focusing on ways to improve the gameplay. If you want to

be the best, you have to take some risks; MLB

2005
is more concerned with getting on base safely than hitting a home

run, leading to a solid if unspectacular performance. Who knew 2005 could be

so last year?

REVOLUTION REPORT CARD

3
Rating
Deep Franchise mode
Online play
/ - Unnecessary features
Dated game mechanics
Awkward batting