Ultimate Baseball Online REVIEW

Ultimate Baseball Online Review (PC)

I played baseball for 20 years, from the age of five to the ripe old age of 24. Ok, so maybe the age of 24 isn’t old, but it was time for me to sacrifice a few leisure activities while the wife and I welcomed a newborn into this crazy world. Do I miss playing baseball? Sure do. Baseball is the pure definition of a team sport. Nine guys take the field, and all nine guys play a major factor in the game’s outcome. Now that work and my family occupy the majority of my time, I try to relive my glory days in a virtual setting. Fortunately for me, Netamin’s Ultimate Baseball Online 2006 allows me to do just that.

For those unfamiliar with the series, Ultimate Baseball Online is characterized as a Massively Multiplayer Online game, which allows you to field a team with 8 other human participants. It’s what console sports gamers have been clamoring for since the inception of online play. Not only does Ultimate Baseball Online 2006 fill the void, but it does so in a convincing, and addictive, fashion.

Perhaps the most important decision you’ll have to make when playing Ultimate Baseball Online 2006 is selecting which position you'll want to play. Upon booting the game up for the first time, you’ll be asked to create your virtual athlete with some limited customization options. You’ll notice that your player’s attributes vary, depending on which position you decide to play. As with any other RPG, it’s important to balance these attributes, as they become vital to how well the game plays.

After creating your player, my advice would be to start out in Practice Mode. The controls take some time to get used to, and won't feel as responsive at first due to your player's low quickness trait, thus providing a steep learning curve. Once you've become acclimated to the controls, you can hook up with other players in lobby play. From there, you can create your own game, or choose from a list of games already created by other players.

Now that you’re familiar with creating your athlete, and how to find a game, I’m sure you’re wondering how the game plays. Let me give you a rundown of the basic controls. The batting model is quite different than what you would find in console baseball titles. You control the size of the hitting zone by moving the mouse up and down while right clicking it. This will expand or shrink the hitting zone. Obviously, if your zone is smaller, you’ll make better contact, but it also makes it much more difficult to hit the ball. To hit the ball, hold the left mouse button down until the ball is pitched. Aim the cursor at the ball, then release it when you want your player to swing, simple as that.

Pitching, on the other hand, requires a little more skill than your average baseball videogame. Despite using a meter system, your player’s attributes have a drastic effect on their pitching skill. Once you’ve selected your pitch from the menu, select its destination within the designated strike zone. Next, you’ll click the mouse to start the power meter, then click once again for accuracy. Pitchers with low accuracy and power are likely to be more erratic. If their pitches do happen to find the strike zone, they’ll be much easier to knock around the ballpark.

The fielding in Ultimate Baseball Online 2006 can be a bit cumbersome at first. As stated earlier, the low attributes your player starts out with make the learning curve steep, and frustrating. The concept is simple; to move your athlete to the batted ball, press W on the keyboard to run forward. The A key will run to the left, D will run to the right, and the S key will prompt the fielder to run back. Clicking the left mouse button will initiate a fielding animation. To throw to a specific base, just use the number keys. 1 throws it to first base, 2 throws it to second base, 3 throws it to third base, and 4 throws the ball home.

Ultimate Baseball Online 2006 might appear to be somewhat daunting to a first time player. However, don’t be discouraged. The different skill levels make it much more enjoyable, since you don’t have to worry about being the weak link on a team of experienced players. Once you’ve grown comfortable enough with your game, you can visit http://www.ultimatebaseballonline.com/ to join online leagues and tournaments. While there may be a small fee to join, there’s also prizes to be won.

As I stated in my preview back in August, the appeal of Ultimate Baseball Online 2006 is undoubtedly the ability to fill every position on the field with a human player. Although the graphics and animations leave much to be desired, even on a high-end PC, some of the other issues I had with the beta version appear to have been rectified. Like other Massively Multiplayer Online games, Ultimate Baseball Online 2006 requires a subscription fee. With the official release still two weeks away, gamers can subscribe now for only $7.95 per month. The unique experience that Ultimate Baseball Online 2006 provides is worth the subscription price alone.

Ultimate Baseball Online Score
out of 10