MLB SlugFest: Loaded Review

Developer: Midway Publisher: Midway
Release Date: June 21, 2004 Available On: PS2 and Xbox

This year Midway has decided to let two of their biggest franchises rest up a season. NHL Hitz and NFL Blitz won’t have incarnations for the 2004 holiday season, but to keep interest flowing in the arcade sports genre, Midway has released MLB SlugFest: Loaded during the summer of this year. If this game doesn’t whet your appetite, nothing will. I admittedly played SlugFest 2002 for about fifteen minutes, then lost all interest. Being raised on games like RBI Baseball (NES), World Series Baseball (Genesis) and All-Star Baseball (N64), this arcade approach to my beloved sport just didn’t fit. This year, you have the option to take the low or high roads. In other words, when playing the franchise mode you can either take the Midway approach or a simulator approach.

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It’s possible that the arcade formula hasn’t worked for baseball because of the following reasons. First, baseball is America’s longest running national pastime. To delve into a realm where the sport isn’t recognizable takes away the purpose of playing the sport. Second, football and basketball can be either played as “street ballâ€? or a more serious team match. Baseball really doesn’t have a “street ballâ€? form. You can’t create or change rules without losing the identity of the game. You can’t just cut corners into the rules of baseball. There’s always going to be three strikes, four balls and three outs.

With all of that said, Midway blends arcade play with simulation. The game’s still over-the-top, but it’s not as relentless in the arcade department as it was before. It’s embarrassing to say that I lost to the Royals 6-2 the first time I popped the disc in. So much for being “accessible�; maybe accessible to anyone but people that play baseball games. After a few plays, you’ll manage to get by, but the pace of the game seems no different than other baseball games. For me, that’s bad, since there isn’t even a targeting system when hitting (think MLB 2005). Thankfully for those that don’t like all this zany gameplay, you can turn it off. It doesn’t make much sense to buy an arcade baseball game and turn off the arcade features though. Anyway, thanks for adding it Midway, I like to depart from the goofball feel of SlugFest every couple of games.

Here’s a rundown of game modes. Quickplay is where you go to get a quick fix. Home run derby is self-explanatory. Online play allows for you to play against people from any coast, any time zone, and any city. Lastly is the franchise mode. Here you receive a level of control not seen in most arcade games. All of the basics are here; manage your payroll, change your lineup, and complete trades. You have the option to join the team in the dugout (i.e. play the game) or simulate the game(s).

The biggest draw would undoubtedly be the online play. I haven’t had the time to check first-hand, but I hear this is the strongest mode. Nonetheless, it gets replay value/gameplay points for having this mode. I’m not sure if this mode was all that necessary, since it’s always more fun to play an arcade game next to your opponent, not next to his state. Still, for those interested in online play, this is a good way to avoid playing the computer. MLB SlugFest: Loaded didn’t do more than what was expected of it. It got the job done in the arcade department and over-excelled in the franchise department. If you’re looking for a solid baseball game without the feel of a simulator, Loaded should be your first stop.

Graphics: 6
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 7
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 8
Final: 7.4
Written by Kyle Review Guide

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