‘Owner Mode’ dominates 2005 gamers’ systems

Seth Roy

Balls. Cracker Jack. Pine tar. Creatine.

Finally, it’s baseball season! And what does that mean? It’s time for the latest crop of MLB-licensed baseball games to be released.

Each year, games in general get more realistic, and MVP Baseball 2005 is no exception.

The meat of MVP 2005 is “Owner Mode,” which lets you take total control over every aspect of the team of your choice.

And by “every aspect,” I mean every aspect.

At the start of owner mode, you have to build a stadium. At first, it’s just a small place with no bells and whistles, but there is room for it to grow.

In order to build your stadium up, however, you will have to turn your team and your business into a profitable one. You set the ticket prices, choose what food and souvenirs to sell, pay your players and even hire a coaching staff. And you have 30 seasons to make your business successful.

In order to have a successful franchise, you are not only in control of the Major League team, but its farm (minor league) system as well. Every team, from A through AAA, is there, all available to play. If you really wanted to, you could play every single game for each of your teams.

The minors’ purpose is to develop young players to replace the established superstars in the future. In order to build a successful franchise, you will have to hire a good coaching staff and draft potential all stars in the off-season.

All of this control is great, but it means nothing if the game is not fun to play.

Luckily, MVP is one of the best baseball games I’ve played in a long time. For pitching, there is a meter similar to older golf games, where you hold the button in for power, then push it again for accuracy. This is a returning feature from last year and is much more intuitive than the old way of just aim and push, leaving up the fate of the pitch to the computer.

If you miss the accuracy area totally, watch out because you will hang your pitch, allowing for your opponent to crush the ball out of the stadium.

As a fielder, the game makes good use of the standard, analog PS2 controller. Whenever you need to dive, slide or jump for a ball, the right joystick makes it all possible, and the animations are all very fluid.

When at bat, the controls are still very easy to use. Just choose when to swing, then aim and hit the button.

In terms of artificial intelligence, MVP’s is top notch. Yes, there are a few mistakes here and there, but overall, the computer is quite challenging.

Playing a game is fast-paced, enjoyable and doesn’t take too much time. A typical, nine-inning game takes between 30 and 45 minutes.

Of course, there are ways to play outside of owner mode as well. In addition to an exhibition game, there is also a “Home Run Showdown” where you match up against an opponent to see who can hit the ball the chosen distance, usually a mile, in the shortest amount of time. There are also batting and pitching mini-games that are used to improve your players during owner mode.

As a total package, MVP is the best baseball game I’ve played. It is much better than any baseball game that EA Sports has offered up to now, and it’s a shame that this will be the last one for a long time, as 2K Sports has nabbed the MLB third-party license for at least the next five years. Next year, the only pro baseball games will be MLB 2K5 from 2K Sports and MLB 2006 from 989 Sports, Sony’s videogame outlet.

Contact Pop Arts reporter Seth Roy at [email protected].