Posted: Monday March 27, 2006 2:40PM; Updated: Monday March 27, 2006 4:35PM
Hitting in MLB '06 is simple and at the same time convoluted. To swing the bat, you just need to hit a button, but to hit effectively and with power you have to guess what pitch is coming, guess what zone the pitch will be in and then hit the button at the right time. The fielding happens so quickly that it's unremarkable, and throwing the ball has no nuance -- you choose a base and let it fly.
After I played a few games of MLB '06, I set it aside for a week before returning to it, and I found it more enjoyable than I remembered. That said, I'm eagerly awaiting MLB 2K6, the other game with the rights to use real Major League Baseball team and player names.
MLB 2K6 isn't out for another week or so, but from a look at its Web site, it appears pretty impressive, including a World Baseball Classic mode with the actual teams and uniforms (although I doubt it'll have all the actual players from the WBC). It also mentions in the fine print something about "player-to-player collisions," which makes me hopeful that there will be occasional crash-ups in the outfield and on the base paths.
The best baseball game I've played in years is EA Sports' MVP '06: NCAA Baseball. Once EA lost out on the MLB license, they switched their game to college, jamming it with 100 teams and 30 stadiums (plus the ability to simulate any MLB stadium with the click of a button). What makes it outstanding, though, is the way EA utilizes the game's right joystick. To swing the bat, you pull backward and forward with the right stick, and it's an incredibly intuitive and realistic way to hit. Wanna shoot a ball to right? Swing late and point toward right field. It's tough at first, but once you grasp it, it's terrific. EA has also changed the throwing of the ball so that you use the right stick, which allows you to throw hard (and risk an error) when a runner's hustling down the line or take your time and make a safe toss. And yes, the teams all use aluminum bats. Ping!
As much fun as the college game is, though, I want to play with the big boys: throw up and in to Jeter, intentionally walk Ortiz, try to sneak a slider past Pujols. Until MLB decides to let everyone play ball, the best baseball video game action going is with the amateurs.
Game of the Week
The fine folks at Tea Games are back -- these guys are like the Spurs of the online-games-to-waste-time-while-you-work industry. This new game is like a combination between Tetris and Dig Dug.
Doll of the Week
Really, does it get any better than a Ghostface Killah Doll? The detail is amazing -- including real Swarovski crystals on his mini-pimp cup -- but $500 seems a little steep.
Sneeze of the Week
There have been plenty of sinus-induced injuries in the world of sports, most notably when Sammy Sosa triggered back spasms after a double sneeze. Now Braves phenom Jeff Francoeur has one-upped Sammy, after blowing his nose so hard during the offseason that he dislodged cartilage and set loose an infection that had him on an IV for six weeks. Nothing like making you feel shaky about your starting fantasy right fielder one week before the season starts.