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.
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.
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
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.
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.
The graphics are
years away from being new, but have a certain charm that translates well here.
The ball physics are pretty good.
repetitive announcing, and most of the rest of the audio track is what one would
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.
Head-to-head play is
handled pretty well. No online component, though.
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.