After working your way through all of the new content in this year's Major League Baseball, you can't help but eye MVP like you would an old pair of cleats. The new material that EA has implemented is minimal at best, and most of the additions don't generate a lot of excitement. With that said, this is still the best-playing baseball game on the market. It may feel old hat, but it handles the fundamentals and nuances of the game much better than Major League. You really get the distinct feeling that the team spent a lot of time polishing the game to attain the highest level of authenticity possible.
Fielding is tighter than last year, allowing players to really get a good feel for each position on the diamond. The implementation of a perfect marker on the pitching meter makes it more difficult to paint the corners, so you shouldn't throw as many no-hitters as you did last year. Batters can also read pitchers thanks to the new Hitter's Eye feature, which briefly color-coats the ball as it is thrown to tell you what you are swinging at. This looks a bit goofy in my opinion, but since you can't read the spin on the laces like players do, it's a nice solution.
Most of the changes are found in the frontend. As in the Madden games, players can now run the finances of their team and build their own stadium. I really got a kick out of this new feature. Enticing people to come to games by selecting free gifts for fan appreciation days is a lot of fun, and actually having to build a winning team that brings in enough funds to upgrade the stadium facilities makes sense. It's very gratifying to watch your stadium grow from a rinky dink park to a colossal sporting venue. The only drawback is that unlike football's quick 16-game season, you'll need to play or sim through hundreds, maybe thousands of games to get your team where you want it. Going even further with the minor leagues, players can now play and manage rosters for their club's A-ball team. Franchise options don't get much deeper than this.
EA has also included addictive minigames for both batting and pitching. Like Tetris, you can't seem to put the controller down once you start playing. Thankfully, you'll receive points for performing well in these games that can be used to purchase legendary players (new Hall of Famers like Carlton Fisk are included), classic stadiums (Bloomington, anyone?), and tons of throwback jerseys.
This game is put together incredibly well, but fans who vested hundreds of hours in last year's iteration will likely be let down by the familiarity on the field. Conversely, if you are just looking for a solid gameplay package, MVP is still the game to beat.
A highly polished, yet only slightly changed follow-up to last year's release
Virtually identical to last year. The detail of the created stadiums is exceptional, however
The commentary team doesn't even come close to delivering on the same level of Major League's dynamic duo. The soundtrack is better than last year, however
Pitching is a bit more difficult this time around (as it should be), fielding is easier to get a grasp on, and batters can now read pitches
Owner mode offers an unprecedented level of depth, and the gameplay is still in a league of its own
Rated: 8.5 out of 10
Editor: Andrew Reiner
Issue: March 2005
With a methodical, Yankees-like approach, MVP continues to build its dynasty brick by brick. However, 2005's gameplay remains largely unchanged. It seems that additions like Hitter's Eye were only introduced to make things easier for people – so I suggest you turn this unexciting feature off. Owner's mode gives you some stadium options to play with, but the Spring Training minigames were what I was most excited about. It's just too bad that there isn't more to scouting in the off-season. If you're still slogging through a 162-game season from last year, I could see you not getting this title and being fine with that. It's still the best, but it hasn't gotten much better in the meantime.
Rated: 8.5 out of 10
Editor: Matthew Kato
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