Are the three newest baseball video games any good?
Posted: Monday March 27, 2006 2:40PM; Updated: Monday March 27, 2006 4:35PM
The best new baseball video game on market is EA Sports' MVP '06: NCAA Baseball.
Imagine that a few weeks before the baseball season started, Bud Selig held a press conference to announce that Major League Baseball had cut an exclusive deal with the UPN network. From then on, only UPN would be allowed to show MLB highlights and, more importantly, only UPN would be allowed to mention team nicknames or even call the players by their names.
Of course, this would drive a tremendous amount of attention to UPN once the season began, but would you really trust one network to be your sole source of info? What about other outlets, like SI, for instance? How much fun would it be to read a Tom Verducci mailbag column that has to make do with unspecifics: "The veteran right-hander whose surname rhymes with 'molts' and who wears number 29 for the team from Atlanta is said to be completely pain-free this spring for the first time in years. Atlanta's manager, the old guy who never wins in the World Series, is excited about the prospect of a full season from the pitcher, number 29 ... you know, the guy with the beard."
The message would get out, MLB might get a little extra cash, but would it really be worth the trouble? Isn't it better to let everyone have a crack at covering it and let the consumers choose based on the content?
Selig and his semi-competent cronies didn't go quite that far this year, but they did shoot themselves in the foot when it came to their video game situation. Major League Baseball raffled off the rights to their video games to two companies, Sony and Take-Two Interactive. This means there will be two games on the market this year that have all the real teams and players. Last year's most-played game was EA Sports' MVP 2005, but this year MLB locked EA out, presumably because the league got more cash out of Sony and Take-Two.
So this year we have three baseball video games: two MLB games and one college game (from EA, who decided to stay in the market as much as they could).
These days, every game comes replete with similar bells and whistles: franchise modes, free agency, minor leagues, online play. The differences are in the way they play.
The first MLB game to drop was Sony's MLB '06: The Show, replete with David Ortiz on the cover. As you might expect for a game from Sony, the game play is glossy and shiny, almost too much so. Fresh menu graphics and broadcast screens glimmer. Yes, I'm playing a video game, but no, I don't want it to feel like I'm playing a video game; I want to pretend like I'm in the big leagues. This one is like MLB on FOX: the Video Game.