Wednesday, February 23, 2005

It's Opening Day! In February!

Once again, the people of apparently low intelligence who control the release dates of sports games have decided that this year's baseball games must be released before the start of spring training. Groan.

I purchased ESPN MBL2K5 today. MVP is coming from Gamefly (sorry, EA). I've watched ESPN on and off for about an hour since I got home.

Here's what I can tell so far:
--Presentation is absolutely sensational. The camera angles and ESPN integration are fantastic. It's a big upgrade from last year.
--Slider variety is excellent. There are a ton of settings that can be tweaked. This is a double-edged sword, since it takes work, but at least it creates the opportunity to improve the game.
--Graphics are a mixed bag. 720p support is out this year, so that's a big downgrade if your set could accept a 720p signal. 480p still looks good, and sometimes excellent, but it's amazing how much of a difference lighting conditions can make. A game in "sunlight' looks bright and colorful. An "overcast" game looks awful--washed out and bland (far more washed out than it should be). I'm not sure the color saturation and brightness settings they're using for overcast games are accurate.
--The "stiffness" in some of the batting animations doesn't seem to have changed. They should scrap every single hitting animation they have and start over next year. It's not that they're awful, just that some of them are weak enough to stand out.
--I've also never been crazy about the ball movement from the pitcher to the plate, and that also doesn't appear to have been tweaked. There are times when the ball movement doesn't seem natural--almost as if it's moving on a parallel plane with the ground instead of being affected by gravity. The pitched ball doesn't seem to have "natural velocity," for lack of a better term.
--Someone who doesn't understand much of anything was responsible for coding the crowd movement. It looks stupid, as it does in so many sports games, and hopefully I can find an option to turn it off. Individual crowd members, though, look outstanding.
--Please, please, please. THE RUNNER MUST TOUCH THE BASES, PEOPLE! MVP does this as well, and it absolutely drives me crazy. Particularly on hits that go for extra bases, the runner frequently does not touch first base. It's not even close. That's just embarrassing.

So like almost every baseball game I've played in the last ten years, this game is probably a mixed bag, but I'll write with more detailed impressions after I get to actually play for five hours or so.

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