Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Release Date: 03/16/04 | Genre: Sports
The new Major League Baseball season is well underway and this means that a new crop of video game titles based on America's favorite pastime have arrived. For years, 989 Sports has seen an enormous amount of criticism for the vast majority of titles they have released. Some of it may have been deserved. However, the company has been doing everything in its power to ensure their titles meet the quality fans expect. While it could have been easy to kick 989 Sports while they were down, and the rest of the press around the industry were busy doing the same, we at CVGames have tried to take a positive stance on 989 Sports' titles that have been released. Once again, their MLB franchise is alive and well. This year, it is so good, it even can be called the best baseball title on any platform.
One of my favorite features in this year's version is the player editor. For those of you who have a Sony EyeToy, you are in for a treat. When creating your character, you can take a picture of your face and paste it on to the actual player you are creating! Now you can live out your dream of becoming a real major leaguer. While you won't get a multi-million dollar contract, you can spend available points to customize your skills and further develop your skills as you gain more experience. With the success of the Sony EyeToy, I expect this to be a feature that the other baseball titles on the PS2 may try to copy.
Another great feature 989 Sports games are known for is online play. Using the Network Adapter, players can participate in the online play using either a dial-up or broadband connection to the Internet. However, be warned--online play on a dial-up connection is not much fun. I understand that for many of you, dial-up is the only choice you have. While it is possible to play a game using dial-up, you may wish to either beg your local phone company to hurry up and get DSL to you or just stick with the two player option. Also, only broadband users will be able to use the Voice over IP chat option during a game.
Surprisingly, 989 Sports has elected to not include Roster Updates. The game ships with rosters that are current up to February 15, 2004. So while the big trade that sent A-Rod to the Yankees is included, no further updates will be made via the web. I am quite puzzled by this move and I hope that the 2006 version of MLB will resolve this by providing fans with constant roster updates throughout the year.
The gameplay in MLB 2005 is very friendly and easy to pick up. When pitching the ball, you select the type of pitch you want to throw and then target the area you want to throw it in. Using the pressure sensitive buttons on the PlayStation 2 controller will determine the amount of power you put behind the pitch. When batting, players can guess where they think the pitcher where throw the ball. If they guess correctly, they will have a better chance of connecting with the pitch. After hitting the ball and running the bases, 989 Sports has included better control of running by allowing you to select any individual runner you want to move forward.
In MLB 2004, a lot of players complained that it was very easy to hit home runs. In order to ensure that there is no conspiracy about steroid use in the MLB series causing more home runs, 989 Sports has taken steps to reduce this problem in MLB 2005. Home Runs happen much less often so everyone can be more happy. That is unless you were hoping to break the home run record for a single season.
While some people like to have more control over the game. I really like that MLB 2005 gives me a great simulation experience but handles a lot of smaller details for me. For example, I hate having to control my players on defense and elect to have the computer control it for me. I tend to have better success at the game this way.
Visually, 989 Sports has improved the graphics in this year's version. More camera angles are used in replays and the overall appearance of the game is much cleaner. All player models are more closely represented by their real-life counterparts and all players are much larger than in last year's version. You will also find new additions to the game. This year, MLB 2005 includes picture-in-picture base running cameras and uniforms have the ability to get dirty as the game progresses.
Besides online play and the standard two player option, you can also participate in a Franchise Mode. Here players can live their dream as a GM of a team. They can draft players, hire a staff, trade players, negotiate contracts, set ticket and concession prices, buy equipment for the team's locker room, market your team, teach your players new abilities, and more. Succeeding in this mode will allow you to get your own contract renewed. The GM contract is good for five years and your goal is to get it renewed every five years. I would like to see a future version of the Franchise Mode include the ability to control your minor league system. Maybe this is something that can be added in the 2006 version.
Overall though, 989 Sports has done an excellent job with MLB 2005. The title is my personal favorite Baseball title for this year and I definitely recommend you trying this game out with at least a rental.