|PS2, GC, Xbox
|Comic Mischief, Violence
| The Good
Stadiums and players look really good
Fun arcade gameplay
| The Bad
Glitches during fouls balls
Not for sim players
Slugfest 20-03 takes the traditional sport of baseball
and juices it up a bit. Okay, not just a bit. More like A
LOT. It's like they crammed Emeril LeGasse into the game
to take the stuffy sim elements of previous baseball titles
and make it fun. Players can choose to play a single game,
the Challenge Mode against other teams in the league or in
the Season Mode, where you can try take your team to the World
Visually, Slugfest shows off a really nice graphics
engine that sports both well detailed stadiums and character
models. In fact, the stadiums themselves are excellent representations
of the original parks with a lot of nice touches to draw you
into the game. Everything, ranging from the stadium crowd,
which is a step above the usual bobbing cardboard cutouts,
to even the textures on the infield that make it look like
the groundskeeper has recently mowed, shows a great attention
to detail. When you start up a game, you'll immediately notice
all of the familiar landmarks and even the flashing lights
from the crowds adds that little extra touch that really just
makes the game "feel" like baseball. Easily the standout of
the game, the character models are well animated and excellently
detailed. You can see muscle tone and each player looks pretty
close to their counterpart. Since each team is basically made
up of the starters and a few big-name pitchers, a lot of time
seems to have been spent making those characters look really
good. You'll easily be able to tell the difference between
Mark Grace and Matt Williams. And since the game runs as such
a nice and steady framerate, the animations for anything from
taking a swing to throwing a ball just look really good. So
when your guy wiffs at a fastball, you're gonna believe it.
Between the dead-on sound effects and assorted crowd noise,
the audio portion of the game is as well-realized as the graphics.
I would be remiss not to mention the announcing, which is
done excellently and provides just the right touch for Slugfest.
The humorous quips and zings are varied and just downright
funny. The duo of the dry Timmy Kitzow and the Harry Caray-esque
Jimmy Shorts is just a blast to listen. From time to time,
you'll hear something repeated, but for the most part, their
repetoir is so varied and deep, it may take you a season to
hear it all.
At the heart of this game is a fairly simple and easy to
pick up gameplay. Pitching involves selecting one of four
pitches and then slinging it across the plate. But, you also
can shift your outfield and then move the location of the
pitch by using the D-pad/Analog stick. And, you can also choose
to throw a "beaner", which will cause the batter to lose some
points in one of their attributes, depending on pitch location.
But, don't get too greedy with it, as hitting batters too
often will get you pitcher beaten up and even make the batters
better by way of an adrenalin boost. Once batters are on base,
you can also try pick off moves. Fielding and throwing the
ball is easy and familiar. Using the turbo on defense will
allow your fielders to move and throw faster.
When at bat, you'll have the choice between straight contact,
a power shot, or bunting. You can also lean the batter in
or away from the plate to alter hit location. And, if you
have any men on base, you can also signal them to steal with
the L1 and D-Pad. Once you get the hang of batting, which
won't take long, you can consistently get hits. Once on base,
you can perform take out slides and use the Turbo to make
your player run faster. Also, you can punch basemen in hopes
of making them drop the ball, which in turn will allow you
to steal another base.
The strength of the gameplay it that the player is given
just enough options to keep a degree of strategy in the game,
while at the same time keeping it simple enough not to bog
them down with way too many simulation elements.
With so much going for it, the really isn't a lot I can fault
Slugfest with. Sometimes, especially during foul balls,
the game suffers glitches, like whole sections of fans disappearing
from the stadium or even rare instances of pop-up and slow
down when performing a turbo catch or throw. It's nothing
major, but it does show up. Also, as with most sports games,
there will come a point where you will have heard and done
everything in the game and it may grow a little repetitive.
But, I figure by that time, you'll be pining for 20-04.
One of the nicest touches about the game is how well it plays
up the "over-the-top"ness of it all. From the well-animated
crotch-grabbing to the crazy fly-ball grabs to the way your
character catches fire when they're on a streak, it's all
rather well polished. If you're a sim player, you might find
this one a hard pill to swallow. This is an arcade game at
heart and you're going to see a lot of hits, homers and runs.
Don't be too surprised to see an NFL type score at the end
of your game. If you want to play a ball game that's just
plain fun and looks good, look no further.