MLB Slugfest 20-03 Review (PS2)
You know what you are getting when you buy this title. Slugfest is made by Midway, the company who created NFL Blitz and NHL Hitz. So you know that this isn’t going to be your typical baseball game. Players will have super human abilities and the ability to get on fire. Now my problem was, I didn’t think this kind of game would work for baseball. Football and hockey are very physical sports and that’s one of the reasons why Blitz and Hitz were so popular. People enjoyed the big checks and tackles that come with those games. But baseball is not a physical game like football and hockey, so this kind of game can’t work for a baseball game, can it?
The stadiums in this title look absolutely great. They are very close to their real life counterparts and the three dimensional crowd is one of the best I have ever seen. The player faces are also well done. Barry Bonds, Randy Johnson, and Jason Giambi all look like their real life counterparts. Even lesser known players like Omar Vizquel and Brian Giles have accurate faces. Two issues I have are that the player models seem to be a little short and seem to look the same no matter what player is at bat and there are not a lot of batting stances. Still, the animations are done very well with no stutters or hiccups and the game runs at a very good pace.
The audio has the basics of most baseball games. The crowd reacts to each pitch and to big plays. You can here the hecklers in the crowd and the vendors selling peanuts but there is nothing spectacular. The game also features a two-man booth. The play-by-play man is pretty straight forward, just calling the balls and strikes. The color commentator makes off the wall comments during the game. There is some interaction between the two but it seems to get repetitive after a while.
The game has four modes: Exhibition, Season, Tournament and Team-by-Team Challenge. The season is only 52 games and you can’t change the length. In the Team-by-Team Challenge, you take one team and try to beat every team in Major League Baseball. You can unlock the extras like secret teams and stadiums by entering special codes. The Exhibition and Tournament modes are self-explanatory.
Each team has only 13 players, so pinch-hitting and substitutions don’t play a role in this game at all. While this is disappointing, Slugfest is not meant to be a sim so substitutions aren’t really needed in single games. There are no injuries or roster moves, you will not see any trades and cuts in the Season mode either.
Pitchers have 4 pitches to choose from and batters choose whether to hit for contact or power. Slugfest uses a timing based batting system, which means there is no cursor. If the ball is in the strike zone there is a good chance that you will hit it. Stealing bases is the same as in most games but with one exception. In Slugfest, a runner can punch a fielder and make him lose the ball. This also works well for breaking up double plays and adds another dimension to the game.
Do you want to get "on fire?", you can do this by getting hit by a pitch or getting two consecutive hits. The “on fire” concept works the same as in Blitz, Hitz, and NBA Jam. When a player is “on fire” he is more likely to strike out a batter or to hit a homerun.
Beaning a batter does decrease your players attributes and if you rush the mound, that players attributes will increase. Here is a tip: DON’T HIT NOMAR! I have done it twice and each time not only did the Turbo Meter increase but he and the rest of the Red Sox proceeded to blow my Orioles out.
The CPU AI is way better then I expected. The CPU makes the plays it’s supposed to. After playing about 20 games I have yet to see the CPU throw to the wrong base or make any big base running mistakes. The game is aggressive in its approach to base running and I wish certain games (Triple Play) would take the same approach in its game.
Ok, so throughout this review I have done nothing but praise this game but you look at the bottom of this review and you see a score of 78. So what gives? There is one problem I have with the game and it’s a big one. With all of the features and fun that Slugfest has, the game has a problem with longevity. After you have unlocked all of the extras there really isn’t much else to play for. The Season and Team-by-Team modes become repetitive really fast. The omission of trades and roster moves takes away a lot from the Season mode. After about a week, the game starts to lose its appeal and only becomes enjoyable if you are playing against another person.