5 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Major League Baseball 2K7 Review


It’s time for another Baseball game! This one could actually be the last one I review for a while which is pretty crazy. I have two more MLB games, but they haven’t been working. If they don’t start working soon then it’ll be time to cut my losses with them. Baseball is one of the few series where I actually tend to prefer 2K to the main line games. 2K7 is no exception and actually has the best batting mechanics I’ve seen yet. If you really like Baseball then this is the title for you. It’s still not really my sport when it comes to video games because I feel like there is too much RNG, but at least now I can hit the ball back.

There are a lot of modes as always here but the one you will want is the exhibition mode right off the bat. I just wanted to test my skills against another Baseball team and so I dashed over. Much to my surprise I actually put up a pretty good fight here. It started out badly as I was down 3-0 after a few innings. I just couldn’t manage to hit the ball. I checked the settings and the reason for this was that the game was using motion controls. You were supposed to tilt your controller in order to swing. This is all well and good except for the fact that my PS3 controller has no such feature. I switched the controls to what they listed as “Classic” which allowed me to hit the ball normally. It went back to a classic “Press X” control scheme which is way more my speed.

So I started to make my comeback. I was hitting balls left and right. A lot of them went foul but others would actually be home runs. Eventually the game ended with a score of 9-6. I may have lost, but I got really close compared to most games where I lose 18-0 or something like that. At least this one made me feel like I was in the game at several points. It still doesn’t really take away from my main issue with these Baseball games though. My problem is that none of it feels like it’s in my control.

When pitching, the guy will just hit the ball sometimes. It doesn’t matter if you hit the perfect pitch, sometimes the guy will simply be ready for it. Likewise when you’re batting you can be in just the right spot and still not hit the ball. Perhaps it was outside and it just looked like it was in. Even worse is when you hit the ball and it goes out of bounds or straight into someone’s mitt. I know there are ways to angle your hit better and if you don’t want to go out of bounds then you’ve got to work on timing but there is too much that is out of my control for me to enjoy it as much as the others.

Basketball, Football, and Tennis are my three favorite sports to play in video game format and that’s because RNG is kept to a minimum there. What you see is what you get. If you mess up then it’s all on you. Sure, there is RNG present in every game and those are not exceptions, but they don’t feel nearly as frequent as they do in Baseball. No matter how refined the controls get, I feel as though that will always be holding the series back to an extent.

As always the graphics are good though. The players all look lifelike and the Baseball field is very clear. A lot of effort went into this even if it’s not quite up to Madden level. The presentation is also nice with a lot of quick cutscenes showing up between plays or after the game. Even seeing everyone heading into the stadium was a lot of fun. Slowly but surely the games are all starting to have big presentations like this and I think it’s definitely a good thing. It makes the whole thing look and feel even more realistic.

There’s a lot of replay value to be had here so you don’t have to worry about running out of content. That’s never really been a concern in Baseball games though so I would have been surprised if there was a lack of content. You can play endless matches against all of the teams and there are a lot of modes to try out. Considering that the game is only about a dollar or two nowadays it’s really a great deal for sure.

Overall, Major League Baseball 2K7 is probably one of the best Baseball games I’ve played. It’s quite solid for a Baseball game, but still doesn’t solve the things that were issues for me. I think the games need to take a bit of inspiration from the Mario Baseball game for Gamecube. Of course they wouldn’t grab the special abilities or anything like that, but the batting mechanics were quite solid. There you felt like every ball went exactly where you wanted it to go and that’s a really good thing. I’m confident it will happen in a main Baseball game someday.

Overall 5/10

5 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Major League Baseball 2K8 Review


It’s time for yet another Baseball game. I haven’t exactly been tearing the place up in the MLB games, but even I was surprised at how badly I got beat here. I ended up losing 23-0 by the sixth inning which is where I had to pull the plug. In that time I only managed two hits and never got even close to a run. Hitting the ball in this game is insanely difficult, but 2K titles usually do ramp things up. I’ll be trying to do a little better in the next one since I do have one more 2K title in the vault. If all goes well in my next review you’ll see me winning 10-6 but lets not get ahead of ourselves. It’s time for the review.

So right away you’ve got your usual assortment of Baseball modes. You can jump in and have some quick games or you can throw yourself into a season. Either way will give you a lot of fun for sure and having options is a good thing. I naturally went into the quick play mode ready for some action. I probably should have went into practice mode, but the MLB games barely even have one so I made the dangerous assumption that 2K’s wouldn’t work all that well either.

Hitting the ball sounds easier because it’s all about going through the motions. You flick the joy stick down to get prepped and then back up to whack the ball. However, while I was hitting the ball pretty cleanly each time it would always just pop right up and the other team would catch it for a quick out. There must be some kind of tactic to this which the practice mode may have shown me. It didn’t feel right though because hitting the ball should at least give you a chance. At the very least it did make the game more entertaining than MLB though since there I would rarely be able to make any kind of contact with the ball.

As for pitching, that part seemed to be about as difficult as MLB. I just couldn’t get the ball to go where I wanted. I pitched a few balls where the area turned green so I suppose it was a “successful” pitch, but even then the guy would just whack it away for a home run. That’s how the score would quickly get out of hand for me. Landing an out was mostly about luck as I would hope they would pop the ball up in the air and then I’d catch it. Even fielding the ball wasn’t easy though as my guys would randomly drop the ball and then the opponents would get another base. In a game that is already filled with so much RNG I thought this was a bit much, but I suppose in real life people make mistakes at time so they were trying to emulate that.

As expected the graphics do look pretty good here. Sport games tend to age well which makes sense since at the end of the day there aren’t a lot of crazy effects at play here. As long as I can see the field and identify all of the players I feel pretty good about my odds and am satisfied with the game. There isn’t really much of a soundtrack though so you won’t be able to count on that. In all fairness, I wouldn’t really expect much of a soundtrack here either. It’s not something you really look for in a sport game.

There’s a lot of replay value even without online options. The game is difficult as you could guess from how I got beat down so you could play a lot of games just to try and get used to the controls and how the opponents play. Then you can work on full seasons and baseball seasons have a ton of games so this will buy you a lot of time as well. Considering that you can buy this game for a dollar or two that’s already reason enough to pick this game up. I think the only point against it would be that the other games are just as cheap and newer so there isn’t a real reason to go this far back into the past.

Overall, If you don’t have this game and you like Baseball then you should pick it up. If you are new to the sport and looking for a title though this would not be the game for you. I would recommend picking up MLB instead because the controls just make more sense to a newbie. Unfortunately for me Baseball is not a sport that translates well into electronic form. I have to get more control over the game to have fun and Baseball feels like a whole lot of RNG to me. That always kept it from being more of an enjoyable experience. My final word of advice is if this is your first Baseball manga, definitely be sure to play the practice mode. You won’t regret it.

Overall 5/10

5 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

MLB 09: The Show Review


It’s time to look at another Baseball game. This one’s a little newer than the last one and you can actually see how the gameplay has improved. I can actually pitch without every ball going out. There’s still a lot here that I just don’t get, but at least I had a little more fun. It’s hard to see myself going for more Baseball games in the near future unless I see them for under $5 but at least this is helping me wrap up the ones I do have. This review’s probably going to seem pretty similar to my last one since the games are basically identical.

Usually I jump right into the quickplay mode, but this time I really wanted to try out the Practice Mode to see if I could get a little better at this sport. After all, any skills I pick up now will be quite valuable down the road. Unfortunately the practice mode really isn’t very helpful. It’s just free reign as opposed to actual tutorials so that bit was a little disappointing. I got to practice my batting but without direction it really didn’t do me a lot of good. Ah well, I tried right? That was enough for me to go back into quick play.

I didn’t get destroyed quite as badly as last time so that is a bit of a start. For one thing my pitching was okay. I can’t angle the pitches or anything so they were all right down the middle, but the real important thing here is the fact that the ball was getting over the plate. The batter would land a lot of hits but I caught a good chunk of them. In the end the team scored about 6 runs so I always felt like I was right in the thick of it. Unfortunately I couldn’t score any runs so realistically I wasn’t going to be making any comebacks. I only got 1 solid hit as everything else got caught.

My bat couldn’t even reach most of the pitches which I thought was a bit sketchy. That shouldn’t have been the case and yet…it was. I couldn’t figure out how to move but I’m sure there is a way to move your bat a bit. That or those balls were simply out of range and I wasn’t supposed to be swinging at them. It can be really tough at times because sometimes the ball just looks really good when I’m pitching but they’ll call it a “ball” anyway. There’s something that never clicks for me in these games.

As for the graphics, those look pretty good as you’d expect. The character models are on point and the field looks good. It does feel significantly lower budget than the NBA or Madden games but maybe that’s because those just have a lot more to look at. In comparison you’re basically on the same field all the time here so maybe it makes sense that it looks bland. There is less of a presentation or soundtrack as well so you can feel awfully lonely here at times.

There is a lot of content though. You can jump into a season or keep on having fun with normal games. Since you can buy this title for about a dollar or so you really can’t go wrong here. You just have to actually like the gameplay enough to pick this title up now and again. Also you can probably just buy a newer version of the game and then you’ll be all set. There is little reason to pick up this game, but if you do then I expect you’ll enjoy it. At the very least I do think it is a big improvement over MLB 08. That’s for sure!

Overall, MLB 09 picks up where the last one left off, but improves in every way. Baseball still isn’t the sport for me and is certainly the weakest one I’ve played next to Golf. I feel like too much of the game is left up to chance and so naturally that ends up hurting my enjoyment factor. Still, it does feel really nice to land a hit. I’m sure landing a home run would feel even better. Train up a bit and perhaps you can get really good at this game. I was unable to accomplish this and I don’t expect I would return to the game since I don’t even think it has PS3 trophies. I haven’t personally checked though so hopefully I’m wrong. I still have a few more Baseball games on the backlog so this isn’t the last you’ll see of them. This sport will return!

Overall 5/10

5 Star Games, Game Reviews, Reviews

MLB 08: The Show Review


It’s time to jump into the next MLB title. Baseball is next to Golf as my least favorite sport to play in a video game format. Neither one is all that exciting for me because I don’t really feel like I’m in control. In something like Basketball or Tennis, win or lose you know that you did everything you could. I feel like these games don’t give me the same amount of power. That may just be because I am not too used to these controls though. After all in Baseball I can barely pitch to save my life. The amount of balls I threw in this game was totally crazy. Then with Batting I could only manage a hit or two. Somehow I don’t think y skills will be ready for real opponents anytime soon. They’re all just too powerful.

There are a bunch of modes here of course, but I opted to start with a quick game. Little did I know there wouldn’t be anything quick about it. The other team quickly began running up the score. Before I knew it I was down 15-0 and I knew that I was doomed. The toughest part of the game for me is pitching. I was just trying to throw the ball straight across the base and yet each time the ref would say that the ball was out. A lot of the time I even felt like it was on target and somehow it wouldn’t go there. I’m thinking there is something I have to do with the directions, but it wasn’t too clear. In 09 I’ve decided that the first thing I’m going to do is look for a tutorial to try and at least get some fundamentals at the ready. Without those I really don’t stand a chance here.

As for batting, that is naturally all about reaction speed and being at the right place at the right time. There’s no magic trick here, you just got to be ready. The problem for me with this one is the fact that I end up taking swings at balls that are way out. As a result I can’t make the hit even if I time it perfectly. It’s just hard not to take the shot because then you run the risk of letting a perfectly good ball get right past you. I never want to lose that way so i just swing and hope for the best. Who knows, maybe one of these days I’ll land a good homer.

Now, while I’m not a big fan of the MLB titles it’s not that all Baseball is low for me. I really liked the Mario Baseball series. Those games were done extremely well. I don’t know why the real ones are so much more difficult for me. I just can’t seem to find my rhythm here and without timing what else do I have? Trust me, it’s no fun to be pitching for 20 minutes as they hit everything or you keep throwing out of bounds. After I hit one player I even ran an experiment to see how many I could knock down. I took down almost half the team and they were still playing and that’s when I realized that I was truly doomed. Ultimately, I did a few more innings but by the 7th I had to retire gracefully. It’s not like I could somehow get 14 more runs in.

The graphics are good. The character models are on point and the game is pretty clear. I have no real issues there and while there isn’t much of a soundtrack the sound effects are real good as well. On a technical level I have no complaints. Even the gameplay while a little confusing doesn’t seem bad. I didn’t notice any glitches and I’m sure there is a trick to playing the game a little better. It wouldn’t be so popular if there wasn’t. Unlike the other sport games this one still feels like getting good is a very far off dream. Never say never though.

In terms of replay value there is definitely a lot for Baseball fans here. You can play a lot of quick games or even get ready to launch a franchise. Each game is unique so you never have to run out of content. The presentation may not be as exciting as some of the other sport games, but it gets the job done and you do feel like you’re in a real game. Batting is the offense of Baseball and so I’d be cool with the game giving us an option to automatically skip the pitching. It’s actually an option in the game so even if it’s not automatic, you can still do that if you really can’t get the hang of throwing the ball like me. I may exercise that feature a bit in the future.

Overall, MLB: 08 The Show may not be for me, but I’m sure fans of the sport will get a real kick out of it. How can you not have fun playing the sport you watch on TV? I have quite a few other Baseball games on the backburner so you can expect more reviews soon.. My personal goal for the next game is to make the score a lot closer than this one was. That shouldn’t be too hard since I got blown out here. We’ll find out one way or the other very soon.

Overall 5/10

Live Action Movies

Moneyball


It’s time to look at a film based on true events. I’m not all that knowledgeable on Baseball so even once they mentioned the team and the year I didn’t know what was going to happen ahead of time. In a way that helps to make the film more interesting. You know that the year had to be special in some way or there wouldn’t be a film, but the question was whether or not they would win the World Series. Big Baseball fans will know the answer to that right away, but whether you do know or not, this film’s pretty enjoyable.

The film follows general manager Billy Beane as he is faced with a tough dilemma. His team lost in the playoffs last year and now all of their best players have been swiped by other teams. This team also doesn’t have a lot of money so it’s not like they can just go and buy some good players. Billy is confident that if they try drafting people the normal way they are going to lose. Following this train of logic be brings in an assistant from another team known as Peter. Peter believes that there is a data way to picking out good players rather than simply looking for talent. He builds the algorithm and then the main characters start drafting from there. Still, just because the team is good on paper doesn’t mean that it will necessarily work. Also, while it will be tough enough to meet the opposition from other teams, there are forces within the organization who don’t like what is going on.

Another interesting dynamic here is the fact that Billy isn’t the owner or the coach, he’s the GM. It’s an interesting position as it’s a very powerful one, but not a position that comes up in the news much. Beyond Jerry Jones I couldn’t name any other GM in all of sports. So for the film the tough part is that Billy can make all the trades he wants, but if the coach doesn’t play them then he is stuck. He can’t really fire the coach because of the contract. I’m sure he could ask the owner to buy the coach out, but considering how the owner doesn’t want to spend any money that definitely seems pretty unlikely. The players also comment on how it’s rare to be talking to a GM, but Billy makes sure to take a hands on approach with the team. He even acts like the coach for a good chunk of the film.

Billy’s a fun lead. It was definitely interesting how he said he doesn’t watch the games though. I personally find Baseball to be a little boring with how long the season is and the slow pace of the games, but if you’re a GM I just assume that you like the game or at least that you like the salary enough to like the game. At least he is pretty upfront about this with Peter though and by the end he watches more though. By the end of the film he has a tough coaching decision. I definitely agree with Peter on going up to show how the system works and not letting it get too personal. Billy ultimately makes the move he was most comfortable with which based on his backstory makes sense. Definitely feels like a missed opportunity though.

Peter is a pretty good supporting character. He doesn’t quite have the confidence or know how that Billy has, but in the guy’s defense he had only just started his first job when he was pushed all the way up the ladder. It makes sense that he wouldn’t really be too comfortable with these more difficult tasks like staying on the line with multiple clients or firing people. Billy shows up the ropes though and by the end he is definitely pretty good in these various roles.

A film like this is naturally counting on the writing to be a success. The sport scenes are definitely important of course, but without a good script it’ll fall flat. I’d definitely say that it was pretty solid. Perhaps not perfect, but it was engaging and you’ll be interested in what is going to happen from start to finish. The on the field action is naturally pretty cool since it’s like a sped up version of the game as the movie doesn’t have to wait between hits, but the off the field parts are nice too. You definitely do get the feeling that the owner was trying to save up as much money as possible as the players are even charged for soda. That does sound pretty crazy so it’s no wonder why the team always loses. Even if Billy does give it a good system, I can see the owner messing it up by never giving anyone a pay increase. Eventually even if you use the data model you’re gonna have to pay some of the players.

Overall, Moneyball is definitely a really good film. I do think basically any sport can be interesting in cinema form as there was even that Golf film I saw a while back that was pretty fun. Baseball is no exception and this one was really well made. I think you’ll be able to enjoy it whether you follow the sport or you do not. Think of it more as a drama title and you’ll be engaged. I feel like a lot of films based on true stories tend to be more about traumatic experiences or really big events. In comparison this one was a lot smaller so it was cool that it got picked to be adapted. I’d definitely be down for more sport movies to come out someday.