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MLB 2004
Score: 80%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: 989 Studios
Developer: 989 Sports
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Miscellaneous

Graphics & Sound:
If you understand that this is a PlayStation One title, and that the graphics are due to the processing power of the system and not to the game itself, you'll realize that the looks are actually very good. When compared to any current game though (or at least most current games), MLB 2004 couldn't hold a candle to it. However, if you look past the jagged edges that would be bad enough to cut your eyes had they been on a next generation title, you'll more easily appreciate what this game has to offer. Batters have different stances depending on their real life counterparts, and more well-known players can start to look like who they are supposed to represent if you look hard enough.

The commentary is almost up to par with a PS2 sports game. Sound effects are equally good, as the crack of a bat hitting the ball is accurately portrayed here. You'll hear shouts from the crowd, and even hot dog vendors trying to sell their goods. Musically, what you hear will be pretty good. The stadium tunes between plays will ring in your ears as your batter walks up to the plate and kicks the dirt out of his cleats.

Following the long line of 989 sports titles, MLB 2004 is a true baseball sim all the way. Every team, player, and major stadium is replicated in the game. These are accompanied by a few game modes that are sure to keep baseball fans happy.

The standard Exhibition and League play are offered, but where this game shines is in its extra features. Though you cannot create a completely new team, you can create new players per your specifics and then trade them to or from teams at your leisure. There is also a draft that you can partake in to get the cream of the crop to assure victory in your next season.

There is a lot of fun to be had from these modes, and the Home Run Derby is no exception. You, along with up to 3 other people, can take about a dozen players and wail at up to 30 pitches to see who is the big slugger amongst the group.

MLB 2004 is one of those games with a difficulty range as wide as the Atlantic. There are so many teams, modes, and settings that there is some state manageable for everyone in there. A more difficult part of the game, however, is the controls. Getting these down in your memory will take some practice, and a little more time.

Game Mechanics:
Each iteration of a sports title comes out with something a little different than the last. This is just good marketing strategy, because who would want to buy the same game twice? MLB 2004 has a nice batting and pitching system, as well as good control for your field players. The pitcher chooses a pitch and selects where he wants to put it over the plate. The batter gets a quick glance at where the ball is coming and then tries to position himself for a hit. This works rather well, as does the pitch/guess ability that allows the batter to guess where the ball is coming, and if he is correct, his chances of a good hit increase dramatically.

The problems with control arise on both sides of the coin when people are running the bases. Controlling the runners is confusing as hell, and they always seem to take their sweet time to leave the base. The problem for the fielders is that the 'sprint' button is the same as the button to throw to first base. When you sprint to pick up a ball, if you don't let go right before you get there, you'll always throw to first base, which leaves the guy heading for home safe and sound.

Despite the tricky controls, dated graphics, and a few bugs, MLB 2004 is actually a decent baseball game. For PS One owners, this is the baseball game to buy. And if you're a baseball fan, then you should get out and buy it right now. However, sim haters may find it boring and repetitive (a large complaint of real baseball these days). Only baseball lovers need apply here.

-Snow Chainz, GameVortex Communications
AKA Andrew Horwitz

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