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MLB Slugfest 20-03

Developer: Gratuitous Games | Publisher: Midway
Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Release Date: 06/23/02 | Genre: Sports

It has been a rough year for baseball. With the talk of steroids being heavily used by players, a potential strike coming up before the playoffs, and the All Star game being called a tie, I have lost all interest in the game of baseball. In fact, I can’t even stand to play baseball video games anymore. Whatever happened to the “funâ€? baseball games of yesterday like the original Bases Loaded or Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball on the SNES? Sadly, the video game counterpart of “America’s Favorite Pastimeâ€? has become just as worthless as the real game. However, Midway has now released MLB Slugfest 20-03--an extreme version of Baseball that puts as much fun into the sport as Hitz and Blitz have done for their respected sports.

Living in Texas, I have had the opportunity to see Alex Rodriguez, who many claim is the greatest player in baseball today, make many great plays. Even though he makes a quazillion dollars with his “mega-contract,â€? A-Rod inked a deal with Midway that made him the “cover boyâ€? for MLB Slugfest 20-03. While the Rangers stink worse than cow manure, it is nice to see my local team represented on the cover.

Once you load up Slugfest, you will notice that all of the menus mirror the Hitz and Blitz menus. The game even features the same commentator as in Blitz and Hitz. However, Slugfest adds a second commentator in who provides all of the humor. They both keep up with the action well and while you will hear all of their lines after 20 games, the commentary is clever, witty, and fun--so you should not grow tired of it. One of the more interesting uses of the commentary comes when loading up a game. Since the load time to get into a game is quite large, Midway had a lot of dead space. They took the liberty to add a completely useless conversation between the two commentators. What kind of stuff do they talk about during the initial load time? Well, I hate to spoil all of the fun in discovering these for yourself--but I will tell you that one of them has to do with one of the commentators not having any pants on... Yeah, you heard that right--no pants. Does anyone feel a breeze in here?

Once the game loads up, you will see some incredible visuals. Midway has done a great job building this engine and capturing the look of the players. While some of them don’t look exactly like their real-life counterparts, the star players look exactly like their real-life counterparts.

The standard game in Slugfest 20-03 lasts for 7 innings. If you wish, you can change this to the normal 9 innings. Not many other rules are changed, however. There are still three outs, three strikes, stolen bases, errors, etc. However, players can “catch on fireâ€? and make great plays. In addition, like in other Midway sports games, there is an Turbo button. With this, players can run extra fast, hit farther, throw faster, and make extreme jumps and dives toward the ball. While the Turbo meter fills up slowly in other Midway titles, in Slugfest, you have to earn refills for your turbo. You can do this by hitting a homerun, scoring a run, throwing a player out, or when the half of the inning is over.

The controls are simple, but have a lot of depth to them. When pitching, you have a choice of three pitches and then the option to throw the ball, bean the player, or throw to tag out a base runner. After selecting your pitch and you choose to throw the ball or bean the player, you can move the analog stick towards the direction you want to throw. After the ball is released, you can then wiggle the analog stick to further customize the pitch. Likewise, the batter can also select where he swings at with two different swinging styles. You can also bunt the ball too.

Once the ball is hit, the CPU automatically controls the fielders. You can take over them, if you wish, or you can just help them out by making them dive or jump for the ball. Some hardcore baseball fans might be turned off by the computer helping out--however, I found this to be a welcome feature to give Slugfest more of an arcade feel.

While most Midway sports titles of this nature are shallow, I found MLB Slugfest 20-03 to be deeper. Okay, so this won’t come anywhere near matching the realism of a game like Triple Play. However, Slugfest has more of a simulation feel to it than Blitz or Hitz and it doesn’t sacrifice any of the charm or action. No matter how it compares to other titles, Slugfest is a fun game that is without a doubt the best baseball game I have played in years. If you are a fan of baseball and are ready for a game different than Triple Play and World Series Baseball, pick up a copy of Slugfest 20-03. For those of you who aren’t into the whole “sports game thing,â€? and don’t care for baseball, Slugfest is worth a rental to try it out.

By Kaleb Rutherford - 08/02/02
ESRB Details: Mild Violence
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Screenshots for MLB Slugfest 20-03

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