Point of View
Midway
Sports
1-2
03.17.03

MLB Slugfest 20-04


Midway's approach to sports games give each of their titles a unique feel, and Slugfest 20-04 falls into that category. That "feel" in MLB Slugfest is a fast paced arcade-style baseball game. This non-simulation is actually very easy to pick up and play, especially when you just want to play a quick game. Like old-school Mortal Kombat, you can enter in secret codes before each game. The announcing is one of my favorites ever in a baseball game, and they are the funniest I have ever heard.

Gameplay

I would say hitting the ball is as easy as pie. It's all about the timing. When you're batting, you don't really have to worry about moving a cursor to find where the ball is going, because there is none. Timing is everything. Pitchers will throw balls, but every pitch is hit-able. It even says that in the manual.

As an added bonus to the gameplay, there is minor fighting. Anytime you have the ball, you can run over to a base runner and sock him in the head. And if you're a base runner, you can't leave the bases, but you can attack the closest player to you. Punching each other doesn't really do that much to alter the gameplay, except as a base runner, you can pop the ball out of the fielders glove and make it to the next base.

Baserunning and stealing bases is setup well. You'll feel a slight vibration on your controller either when your ready to advance to the next base, or before a pitch is thrown. Players batting stances are not dead on, but they are somewhat accurate depending on the player. And you also have the turbo feature. You can use this on the field and for baserunning. You can actually control when you want to slide, and I'm a huge fan of that feature. You can get players "on fire," which give them - you guessed it - unlimited turbo.

Not everything in Slugfest 20-04 is present like in a real baseball game. Umpires and third base coaches are nowhere to be found, not even a home plate ump. The default inning setup is 7 innings, and it suits the game well. You can get into a season with Slugfest, but there is no franchise mode, or any trades. Other than that, additional main modes to choose from are homerun derby and create-a-team. One of the features that this game lacks is create-a-player. Pitching is simple for the most part, and you can get special pitches that allow you to throw zigzag pitches.

Graphics

Slugfest's graphics are one of the highlights of the game. You are not going to always be able to tell who is up at the plate, since their faces aren't 100% perfect. They are very close though, and I've definitely seen a lot worse. The actual player models vary depending on who it is. Some of them are just dead wrong. Jason Giambi is so short and fat - it's terrible. The fans look pretty nice. The crowd is not just a pasted-in blur of pixels like many other baseball games. It is very unique and does not repeat itself in a pattern (it doesn't appear to at least). The stadiums rendered are the some of the best I have ever seen. All the stadiums I know have all of the little details. From memorial parks to bullpens, it's all there.

Sound

The color commentary is really comical. The 2 announcers (Tim & Jimmy) give accurate announcing to every play, but also go off topic a lot. If you like their humor, then you will be laughing out loud at least a few times a game. They certainly repeat themselves enough times where you just want them to shut up already. All the usual baseball songs and cheers that you would hear at a game are included. Sound effects are a little different from a simulation baseball game. You will hear all the usual catch, slide, and the regular sounds of the game, but the ball sound is a loud "wiff". You will hear attendants selling peanuts and ice cream, just like a real game.

Replay Value

MLB Slugfest 20-04 has enough replay value even though it's basically identical to Slugfest 20-03. Xbox Live support would have probably helped to add some extra incentive to buy and play this game. The controls are good enough where you don't have to really worry about making a pitching or throwing mistake.

Bottom Line:

You are not going to be let down by the gameplay. Its fast paced gameplay style is intensely fantastic. Slugfest 20-04 looks and plays beautifully. There's some behind-the-scenes footage, as well as the "Making of Slugfest" included on the DVD that is interesting to watch. Midway doesn't really have that much competition in the arcade baseball genre, but if your looking for a solid arcade-style baseball game, this is your ticket.

Related Links:

Official Midway Sports Website

-Steve Melanson




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