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MLB Power Pros - PS2 - Review

Get beyond the initial cuteness, which includes an overly enthusiastic announcer and legless Lego-type characters, and you will find a rather deep baseball game. The joy that MLB Power Pros, from Konami and 2K Sports, brings to the game is that this game caters to both the young and old.

In its simplest version, Power Pros is a hit-and-pitch game. You use the PS2 analog stick to select pitch type and location. You use the thumbstick, offensively, to set the location of the swing, and the X button to swing. You can also bunt. The CPU takes care of the rest of it. Ramp up the difficulty, though, and now you are positioning fielders and making the throws, diving for fly balls and trying to turn the double play.

While the game takes on a simplistic look, this is a game that seems to get the idea of baseball right. The players are Lego like, heads on cylindrical bodies, cylindrical arms with balls at the end of them and feet. They bear no resemblance to MLB players at all, except in movement.

There are some players that have distinctive mannerism. They are in this game. And if you want modes of play, Power Pros comes loaded. There are the standard practice modes, leagues, season and home run derby, as well as a success mode (create your own player) and the two-player match-up mode. Arrange mode allows you to build your own ball team, there are baseball cards to collect, and a shop where you can spend Power Major Points on new batting styles, cards and baseball cards.

The game does keep track of all the stats, so if you are a baseball nut you will find that element to your liking as well.

The Success element is the weakest of the play modes. This is supposedly a career path to the majors, but ends up as an exercise in hitting the X button to advance dialogue you will start to care little about. Your created character joins The Tulips, a fictitious college team. During your three years there, you will have to impress the scouts, and that means training, balancing school, work and a love life and then making the most of the few games that you will actually play. Configuring into the whole scenario are fate cards – which basically means you come to a crossroad in your career and have to make a choice and play a card you have received. Make the wrong one and you will lose stats. This was a two-hour waste of time, in honesty. The created player got injured and missed batting in one of the three games available. After the time was put in, the player was told he didn’t have what it took to make it to the majors and it was game over. This was a bit of frustration. While this is supposed to be a role-playing element, there seems to be little rhyme or reason for some of the situations and rather than having the ability to create a player and work into the starting lineup of a major league team, too much is left up to the fate cards and the luck of the draw. The game even throws in a few questions during the test portion, some of the questions were a bit obscure but with a choice of four answers, multiple guess was employed and successfully.

The increments for training were too far apart and there were too many choices to make (training is several areas like strength, swing, quickness, arm strength and fielding; then you have to choose between resting, studying, dating or working to get money to shop with and get equipment with stat buffs – there is a lot to consider).

In the home run derby, you get to select your batter from a list of major leaguers and then get 10 pitches. If you park all of them in the bleachers, then you continue until you fail to homer.

The other play modes roll out just like any other MLB-based game, and even the control schemes will be somewhat familiar to players. As you select from the three difficulty levels, the challenge ramps up. You can bunt for hit and runs, set up stealing situations, position players and so on.

In season mode, you take over a team for a 10-year period and micro-manage all aspects, even down to equipment costs. Training also factors in, and should you choose not to play out the games yourself, that training plays a factor in how the CPU will configure the outcome.

The game does support head-to-head play with another person on the machine, and this is handled rather well. There is no online component, though.

MLB Power Pros is old generation graphically, not just last gen. It certainly does not challenge the PS2 hardware , but in spite of that, the graphics do get the job done. Power Pros is a fun and engaging baseball title that does a few things wrong, but scores runs where it counts the most – in rendering out a baseball game worth playing.

Review Scoring Details for MLB Power Pros

Gameplay: 7.5
The Success was a mode that could easily have been skipped or given a different direction. It seems to attempt to go the way of EA Sports collegiate career mode (in NCAA football), but falls well short. The rest of the modes are what you would expect. The control schemes also follow a familiar pattern for baseball games.   

Graphics: 8.0
The graphics are years away from being new, but have a certain charm that translates well here. The ball physics are pretty good.  

Sound: 7.0
Enthusiastic but repetitive announcing, and most of the rest of the audio track is what one would expect.

Difficulty: Medium

Concept: 7.8
The interface is bright with the elements all fighting for attention. The game modes are par for the course. This is a decent baseball game.

Multiplayer: 7.8
Head-to-head play is handled pretty well. No online component, though.

Overall: 7.8
The game has a few stumbles but does have a bit of charm that makes for a solid PS2 baseball title. Keep expectations a bit on the lower side in regards to graphics or a ‘career’ mode, and you will enjoy this outing at the ol’ ball field.

Good

Gw
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