MLB Power Pros Review (Wii)
I picked it up after starting to hear great things about it. The word of mouth continued and I really looked forward to getting home from work to give it a spin. After the initial shock of the look of the game, I was stunned at what I found.
Obviously, players aren't going to have their real life likeness here, the guys all look like bobblehead toys. The players do act like themselves though. The stadiums are beautiful renders of the real thing, you almost feel like you are in Jacobs Field or Fenway Park. When you start the game up, you have 12 options that are staring at you. We'll go over each one with a little info on each.
- League - You can have up to 6 teams facing off against each other, almost like a Round Robin.
- Practice - Where you can practice hitting, pitching, fielding, etc, very cool addition to a baseball game
- HomeRun Derby - Pretty self explanatory, it's the normal homerun derby that you would expect
- Arrange - Here you can create up to 32 teams and edit teams/players
- Exhibition - If you just want to play a quick game, here you go.
- Success - Here's the mode I got involved with, basically, you create a college player and try to get him to the majors. Pretty much like Road to the Show from MLB The Show 08.
- Season - Just like any other franchise mode in sports games today. Though, for the first time since All Star Baseball, you can have 2 expansion teams join the MLB if you would like. The off season is pretty loaded as well for a "kid’s" game.
- Wii Remote - Think Wii Sports Baseball just with MLB guys. Can't play a season this way, but you can play with your Mii's this way. Controls are simplistic like on Wii Sports, except here you can choose pitches, choose which base to throw to, etc. We have a ton of fun with this mode, and it even adds sound coming out of the WiiMote.
- Shop - As the name implies, this is where you can buy stadiums, alternate uniforms, etc.
- Baseball Cards - Yeah, you guessed what this is, basically baseball cards for the different players.
- Profile - It's your user profile info page
- My Data - This game seems to save every imaginable stat out there. Pretty cool stuff to see your lifetime ERA, etc. The game records every single bit of data for pitches, swings, etc. It's really amazing.
The controls are easy enough; I suggest using the Gamecube controller or classic controller though. The Wiimote/Nunchuck combo just feels clunky and has no motion sensing to any of it. The nunchuck moves you around; the Wiimote is where your buttons are housed. It’s simply much more fluid playing with one of the two controller options. The nice thing here, if you are playing your five year old brother, you can set many of his controls to automatic, making it a fair fight. The game isn't the zone hitting that baseball games have been using of late, it's the old cursor hitting. It works for this title for some reason.
The pure depth of this game is astounding. You can edit everything, so the first thing I did was hunt for Barry Bonds - he's Great Gonzales when you fire the game up. I promptly edited him to read Barry Bonds. Now, it doesn't stop there, when you edit his abilities, you can generate what his stats should be on a normal year. A lot of tweaking there, but you can also just put in his 2006 or 2007 stats in as well. This makes it so much easier editing rookies who got some time last year or early this year and getting them to play like they did all through the 2007 season. The rosters seem quite old, but with some tinkering, you can get them to pretty much resemble MLB rosters. Based on that, this one title could truly be timeless. Want to make the Yankees or even the ‘61 Yankees? Go ahead and edit away. I guess the only issue you would run into is the fact that the game tracks retired jerseys. The number 42 is retired for every team, and all the real numbers that, for example, the Atlanta Braves have retired, aren't selectable in game. Very cool touch that I've yet to see used in any other sports title.
I have not done it yet, mainly because of the work involved, but you can use the arrange season mode that you have to buy, to put created teams into a season. Many are reporting it's not working as it should on the forums, so that's something to keep an eye on. The steps you have to take to get there though, is pretty insane. You pretty much have to complete two full seasons, winning a World Series and making it back to the playoffs.
The season mode has everything you'd expect from a deep baseball title. As I said earlier, the expansion mode is the first thing you’ll notice, so if you want to throw two new teams into the mix (like MLB really needs that), you can. You can sim your games and, while simming, you can manage them ala MVP 05. This is mode that I loved. There's a yearly draft every June, a 15 player DL, your AAA ball team is alive and well, and the normal end of the season awards. You have a budget to worry about, you will have to buy new equipment for the team, and you will have to train your players to get them better. You can use this mode for up to ten seasons of play, which is plenty for me.
Like I said earlier, the Success mode is where this game is at. It's like the Road to The Show mode, but just better. It adds many RPG elements into the depth. Since you start in college, you'll have final exams to worry about, dating that girl you like, and more. The girl's father may even help you get a pro contract, or he may not. Many decisions lie outside of just baseball with this mode, it can be a blast to dive into.
The graphics are simplistic, there's no 16:9 or 480P support for the Wii, which is disappointing, but the game still looks good. The over the pitcher cam when pitching is great. C.C. Sabathia doesn't have his crooked hat or fat body, but he has all his pitches. Dice-K even has his gyro ball! You'll see Nomar Garciaparra step into the box going through motions as well. I've seen some cool, realistic injuries, which also add to the depth. I had Jhonny Peralta dive back to first and hurt his shoulder. I was mad, but that was cool. The trainer came out, checked him out and he stayed in the game. That was a great “wow moment.”
Other nice touches include the weather and day/night effects. You'll see rain coming down, stop, and then start up again. If you are playing in Arizona or Toronto for example, the dome will actually close during the game. Any game started at dusk, will transition into night, and you'll see a clear starry sky. Subtle little touches, but just adds in so many ways to the experience.
Many avoided this game due to the look, and I was almost one of them. After a bunch of games and trying almost every game mode, I can say without a doubt, this is my favorite baseball game of the year. The Show is great, no question, but it takes about an hour to complete a game. I get into MLB Power Pros and whip through a game in 20 minutes. Sure, I don't have to warm up bullpen pitchers, but is it really that important? How annoying is it when you've forgotten to warm up a pitcher and then they come in cold? Come on, I know I'm not the only one to ever do that!
I know the forums may explode with those comments, but as I've gotten older, games have been more and more about fun. This game just combines the two - fun and realism. If you are a baseball fan, and you own a Wii (it's also on the PS2, but I have not played that version), this is a must own. If 2K Sports could figure out how to put all of the features and gameplay from this title to their flagship MLB2K series, then they would be gold. Until then, play MLB Power Pros and be happy.