Wii games review : MLB Power Pros

28 11 2007

One type of game I definitely wanted when I got a Nintendo Wii was a good baseball game.  I tried The Bigs when it came out, and it was pretty good, but it was too arcade-like for me.  I don’t like it when a power-up enables an AL pitcher to hit a grand slam that hits the centerfield scoreboard.  So I didn’t get that one.  When MLB Power Pros came out, it got some good reviews, so I rented it to try it out, then ended up getting it.

The box art of MLB Power Pros might make it look like a kid’s game, but it is far from it.  This is one of the deepest baseball games out there, for any system.  There are all kinds of statistics available, and each player has unique emotions and personality characteristics that determine how well they play.  And even though the player models look somewhat anime and non-realistic, the animations for them are well done, and you can read a lot into how they’re handling the situation by how they look.  And you can actually recognize players by their looks, including certain unique batting stances and pitching motions.

The best part of MLB Power Pros is the physics.  You might swing under the ball, which usually results in pop-ups.  You might swing over the ball, which usually results in groundouts.  Or you might just miss the sweet spot.  When hitting, you can see the sweet spot on the bat, and it shrinks considerably when you’re taking a big swing (which you choose to do when you want).  And the size of the sweet spot varies depending on how good the hitter is.  The pitchers that have a lot of movement on their pitches (like Johan Santana and John Smoltz) are tough to get solid hits on, because the ball is moving so much between where it starts from and where it ends up.  That makes the game so much more realistic.

The game updates the stats for the players in real-time, so you can see how a big inning is inflating your pitcher’s ERA.  After the game, you can see where each type of pitch went, and you can even track every individual pitch if you want to.  It also reveals how accurate your swings were, comparing the normal swings to the big swings.  The in-game announcer tells you when a hitter is in the middle of a hitting streak, or whether they’ve already had hits in previous at-bats.  It’s a nice touch.

There are a LOT of non-stat characteristics of the players.  You get to specify how well the hitter handles the pressure of batting with two strikes or when the bases are loaded.  You get to specify how well the pitcher responds to errors by the defense behind them.  (Some pitchers are clearly “rattled” and don’t do as well until they can shake it off.)  Some players are more clutch in the big situations.  There are dozens of characteristics like these that are specified for each player.  It’s really amazing.  And the mood of each player can change from day-to-day, which impacts how well he plays.

There are a lot of game modes, which I’ll quickly touch on.  (There are more detailed reviews on gaming websites.)  League Mode is where you specify 6 teams and create a schedule with the number of games of your choosing.  Season mode is where you can play as the GM and manager, telling the players what to practice on and working out trades and handling free agency and trying to make a profit.  You can also choose to play any of the games of your team in Season mode, or you can let the computer handle that for you.  Season mode can last up to 10 seasons, with you building upon each previous year (and the players’ abilities change each year, too, depending on experience and practice).  Of course there is an Exhibition mode, where you play a quick game. And there is a Home Run Derby and an Exhibition mode just for the Wiimote, where hitting and pitching are much simpler, so anyone can pick it up and play.

The most unique of the modes is Success mode.  In it, you start as a college freshman joining the baseball team.  It’s like an RPG-style game, where you have to choose how much you practice and what you practice on, as well as how much you rest, study, work, and date.  There are also random events that happen, and you are limited in how you get to respond to certain big decisions. Sometimes things don’t work out as planned (which is realistic), so the game is different every time.  I was skeptical of this mode at first.  My first time trying it had my character flunk out of college, and it was “game over”.  But I tried it again, and it is fun once you start leveling up your player and gaining some experience.  It became more fun as I got further in my college career in the game.

Some people have said the Success mode is possibly the coolest thing they’ve ever seen in a baseball video game.  I don’t know about that, but it is a nice add-on.  And when your character “wins” in that mode, he is added to the roster and is available in the other game modes.  But even if you don’t care anything about the Success mode, MLB Power Pros is still an awesome game.  You aren’t required to play the Success mode at all.  Even if you ignore it, the overall game still has as much as any other baseball video game out there.

The game has various things you can unlock, like new stadiums and bonuses for Season mode and even baseball cards.  And there are several different difficulty settings.  If you put it on expert, it gets a lot more difficult and realistic.  (Some people don’t mention that, but talk of how they hit home runs and doubles all the time, but they probably aren’t doing that in expert mode.)

My final verdict on this game is that it’s awesome.  I know the players don’t look realistic, but I actually kinda like that now.  (And they do look realistic in the face and in the batting/pitching stance, albeit in a cartoonish way.)  But what is most important in video games is whether or not the game is fun, and this game is a lot of fun to play.  I am enjoying building an expansion team to compete against the pros, and I’m working on building a team of just my friends (with pro-rated stats) to compete against the pros.  The gameplay is fun and not too hard to pick up (and you can turn off the “helps” for when it starts getting easy).  Overall, this game is a refreshing departure from the same old thing that some game series keep putting out each year where they just tweak a few things.

If you still aren’t sure about buying it, watch some videos on other sites.  But the best thing to do is to rent it and try it out for a few days.  Remember, the key thing is how much fun it is.


To find the other Wii games I’ve reviewed : .




One response

9 01 2008

wish I had a wii

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