MLB 2004 Preview
While establishing a relatively-solid series on the Sony PlayStation, 989 Studios' MLB series has peculiarly been absent as far as PS2 software is concerned, due to delays and other subsequent problems. It looks as though 989 Studios has finally gotten their act together, however, and what they're delivering looks to be a solid slugger.
Graphically the game looks excellent, sporting an exquisite variety in colors and a high definition of detail. It's really amazing at how some of the new sports titles are coming along thanks to the power of the PS2, and 989 is certainly capitalizing on that. With polygon-packed fields and well-defined weather illustrations, the game visually delivers.
Composed of 11 game play modes in all, MLB 2004 gives players a number of different ways to partake in their rendition of America's favorite pastime. Notwithstanding the obvious modes (Exhibition, Season, and Playoffs), there are also plenty more you can select from, including Franchise, Career, and General Manager. Franchise and Career seem uncannily similar to each other, but the main difference between the two is actually quite large. In Career mode, your main focus is more on the actual career of a player, rather than a team. Starting right from his first pro game and playing all the way through until he retires, you have the ability to shatter records, help teams win, and, ultimately, try to write history.
The General Manager option is more for the technical fans that enjoy toggling and toying with every single element of baseball, on and off the field. In this mode, players can opt to trade and sign players, pick up free agents, and participate in the drafts, picking up the finest from college and other lower levels. What's more, team specifics and other intangible-like items can be toyed with concerning the team's makeup.
Gameplay-wise, MLB 2004 is also shaping up nicely, with customizable and dynamic ways to pitch and bat. As a pitcher, you can take full advantage and exploit the batters' weaknesses with the "Total Control Pitching", which lets you control all different aspects of a pitch quickly and effectively. Likewise, batting has a similar type of set-up so that the batters will have equal fairness at the plate. If just by some chance the batter gets belted by a pitch, he can lose his temper and charge the pitching mound like a mad bull, letting the two settle the score hockey-style. Of course, while this is an added aspect for entertainment, it's also a good addition, and is a reality of the sport.
So far, so good. 989 Sports' track record obviously hasn't been too good these past few years on the PS2, but this title might be just what Sony's team needs to pull themselves up out of the dirty and gather back what they once did so great. Online options are still pending, and we'll back be with more in that regards as well as any new updates. Stay tuned.
12/12/2002 Joseph Comunale