Amateur hour

MVP Baseball loses its license to line-drive
By MITCH KRPATA  |  January 31, 2006

HOT TIP: Use the power-swing toggle (L1) to increase your chances of hitting a sac fly.You home gamers considering MVP 06 NCAA Baseball need to ask yourselves an important question: do you truly love America’s pastime in all its plodding glory or do you merely seek the vicarious thrills of jacking dingers over the Green Monster? Because though you’ll find a deep and occasionally compelling hardball experience in MVP 06, what you won’t find are any professional players, teams, or ballparks you recognize. On the other hand, you will hear that delightful pinging sound only aluminum bats can provide.

See, when EA Sports lost the rights to the Major League Baseball license last year, its only recourse was to snag sole use of the NCAA property. (This occurred right after EA swiped exclusive NFL rights from 2KSports, which responded by locking up MLB exclusivity.) It was a logical move, but an informal poll of my friends and one co-worker confirmed my suspicion that no one cares about college baseball. Which makes MVP 06 a tough sell.

Those looking for substance over style — surely there must be some of you left in this world — will not be disappointed, regardless of the uniforms. There’s no Fall Classic, but you can take the reins of one of dozens of storied programs like Texas, Florida, and Georgia Tech on the way to Omaha. (I am a little insulted that the Emerson College Lions and their GNAC brethren didn’t make the cut.) Although every EA Sports game now offers the same franchise and create-a-player modes, it’s tough to take for granted the depth of experience those offer. There’s also a stand-alone double-elimination tournament that’s sufficiently similar to the College World Series to satisfy those who’d rather not slog through an entire season.

NO ORTIZ, NO CLEMENS: but how about the University of Allston Fighting Hipster Beards?This year’s control scheme relies primarily on the controller’s analog sticks. You’ll feel the difference most acutely when batting with the new “Load and Fire Batting System”: rather than hit a button, you pull back on the stick and then slam it forward, and though this movement is tough to master, it turns out to be a more natural way to go. Not only can you time your swing to get out in front of an inside pitch or slap an outside pitch the other way, you can actually aim at the ball in the strike zone. And for those who don’t like the new system, the saints at EA offer the option of using the old control scheme. You can also create your own colleges, players, and ballparks. How about the University of Allston Fighting Hipster Beards?

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