|System: PS2, Xbox||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Midway||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Midway||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 2006||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 - 2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|Review by Mike||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Mike Chasselwaite
Midway didn't exactly hit one out of the park with MLB Slugfest 2006, the latest arcade-style baseball game for the PS2 and the Xbox. You actually get less, for less when you purchase this title. It's budget priced and it has less features than Slugfest Loaded that was released a couple of years ago. Don't expect any online modes or franchise mode. What you can expect is everything that you would expect from a budget title. Don't expect any surprises. In other words, don't expect the unexpected.
Right off the bat, please excuse the pun, I'm going to recommend that you rent this game before you buy it. Chances are you probably won't buy it after you try it. Not because it's bad but because it's nothing that you haven't played before. Don't be swayed by the cheap price. It would be worth it if it had an online component but as it is you will exploit everything it has to offer in a short weekend.
In the game's defense, I would recommend it for casual gamers and youngsters that enjoy the odd sports game but don't want to spend hours on end learning a complicated control system. The control system in MLB Slugfest 2006 is simplification personified. I really don't think it could be any simpler and more effective. So much of it just makes sense. There are many different ways to use the various commands so you will be able to get enough depth out of a limited amount of button pushing. The localized multi-player mode will give you some replay value but if you're seriously competitive, keep in mind that even a beginner can give you a run for your money due to the forgiving nature of the control system and gameplay.
Batting is analog and pitching is digital. The analog stick is used to control the bat. Press it in the direction that you intend to swing. If you want to hit a high ball, point the stick up. If you want to hit something lower, point it down. You can even take swings at balls to the left or right by moving the stick in either of those directions. Just how far you move the stick can determine your accuracy and power. Overall it's a very forgiving system that will have novices playing like major leaguers in a few short minutes. It can literally be anyone's game.
Pitching is controlled via two main buttons. Once you aim your pitch in the zone you press the A button for a strike (hopefully) or the X button for a ball. You can also opt to hit the batter and try to reduce his stats but that might turn into a fight and cost you a few attributes yourself. Trick pitches can be thrown but you've got to get some juice into the trick pitch meter first. All it takes if five strikes to fill it and you can deliver some powerhouse pitches that couldn't be stopped by the side of a barn. When you're that hot, your character will literally catch on fire.
Like the ultimate power-up, turbo power can change the course of any game if used correctly. Turbo can be used to enhance virtually any hit, pitch, catch, throw or run. The turbo power is regulated through a meter. The more beneficial the action is to your score, the more juice you will use up. It's advisable to use it somewhere in the last half of the inning so that you don't use it all up and have to face a handful of innings without it. It's like a addicting drug. Once you get used to it you can't do without it. It becomes such an integral part of the gameplay that the developers should have considered using the word "turbo" in the title of the game.
Press turbo when you're batting and you're virtually guaranteed a homerun every time. Press it when you're baserunning and you'll steal bases like stealing candy from a baby. When you're in the field even the highest fly ball will land squarely in your mitt and you'll be able to fire it back to home plate so powerfully and quickly that the ump might mistake it for a strike. It's a great feeling of power when you employ the turbo but it's can also be quite devastating when used against you.
include a 52-game Season mode, Playoff, Home Run Derby,
and the new Create-a-Player and Create-a-Team modes.
Gone are the online and franchise mode which means
that you can't trade players, nor you can update the
roster which is already outdated. Since this isn't
a simulation, you can't really take it seriously so
you'll just have to live with some of these shortcomings.
The gameplay may be solid but the game enjoys not
taking itself too seriously with some really outrageous
animations and witty commentary from Tim and Jim.
That's Jim Shorts and Tim Kitrow. You'll witness players
sliding into bases with their cleats in a very dangerous
position. Let's just say they are intending to foul
a couple of balls, if you know what I mean. And even
if you don't know what I mean, when you see the animations
of the player writhing in pain from his injury, you
can't help but feel sorry for the poor fellow - even
though it's hard to wipe the smile off your face.
The game hasn't changed much in look, feel or sound since 2004. The players' animations are good but they all have a generic, bot-like appearance. The stadiums and the crowds are also nondescript. The sounds aren't incorporated naturally into the game. They aren't dynamic and you'll be very aware that they are triggered. The Jim and Tim commentary is certainly a welcome addition but there's not nearly enough fresh content to last more than a few hours.
MLB Slugfest 2006 is a fun game but it has no lasting appeal. Even the two-player mode becomes more like a game of chance than a game of skill when player of equal caliber have outgrown the simplistic control system. There's enough here to keep you happy for a weekend but after that it's like replaying the same game over and over.
- It's On-Fire!: Midway's classic fast and furious gameplay is back with tape-measure home runs, bean balls, charging the mound and of course, on-fire mode.
- NEW Create-A-Player: For the first time ever in the Slugfest franchise, customize your players right down to their batting stances and special pitches then draft them onto your own unique team with the return of the Create-A-Team feature.
- Exclusive!: The one and only over-the-top baseball videogame fully licensed by the MLB and MBLPA contains all of your favorite teams, players and stadiums in the most raucous brand of baseball you've ever seen.
Most Entertaining Baseball Videogame: Easy to pick-up-and-play,
humorous play-by-play and color commentary by the
voice of Midway Sports' Tim Kitzrow and his laugh-a-minute
sidekick, Jim Shorts.
CCC Freelance Writer