MLB SlugFest 20-03
By: Matt C. on August 7, 2002
Leave it to Midway to turn a completely harmless American pastime into an all out adrenaline packed riot. MLB Slugfest 20-03 can be so outrageous at times, that it often makes Ken Griffey, Jr. Baseball on the SNES seem like a simulation ball game. Depending on your preferences, this can be a good or bad thing.
To keep things fresh, Midway threw in some very interesting modifications to the game of baseball. First of all, the standard "Midway" turbo meter makes an appearance in Slugfest 20-03 and as expected, it is used to throw and run faster, hit harder, and jump higher. However, to make sure things don't get too out of control, you only have a limited supply of turbo juice to use every half inning. It recharges every top and bottom of each inning, but you can earn back your used up turbo by scoring runs, striking out batters, or by simply making a batter miss a pitch. This approach puts a little more strategy into the game instead of just keeping it in a mindless "turbo button mashing" category.
In addition to the turbo meter, Slugfest throws in a dash of violence by allowing you to "tag" (read: punch) baserunners in the face and the back while you are holding the ball. Not only is it comical, but it's also there to give you an opportunity to knock the baserunner off of the bag. Likewise, the baserunners can punch and kick you back and if they manage to knock the ball out of your hands -- they can advance a base. Another neat feature is that if you bean a batter in his legs, for example -- you can actual reduce his running attributes!
The batter/pitcher interface is simple and super easy to learn. Whether you're playing by yourself or with a friend, MLB Slugfest 20-03 is a blast to play due to the gameplay enhancements mentioned above.
Luckily, Slugfest also excels in the graphics department as well. The stadiums and players all look great - even the crowds look decent. But what really blew me away was the stunning animations featured in Slugfest. All of the players move very realistically and unlike some other PS2 sports games, the transition between different animations are very smooth. For example, if a ball hits a fielder in the back, it won't magically appear in his glove. The ball will always go straight into his mit every time. Also, when you deliver a changeup and the batter swings too early, he will get ahead of himself and spin around realistically.
There are other examples that I would like to share, but I don't want to ruin them. I guarantee that some of the animations will have you laughing out loud.
As for the play by play commentary, it is amazingly hilarious! Never before have I laughed so hard playing any type of sports game. It obviously gets old after a couple games, but every once and a while I hear something new that always seems to put a grin on my face. Fortunately, if you want to turn the commentary off, you can do so in the options menu. (note: for additional laughs, check out the credits movie in the theater menu.)
Despite the addictive gameplay and outstanding visuals, Slugfest 20-03 does have a few flaws. First of all, there is a lack of a create-a-player mode -- something that should be standard in all sports titles. To make matters worse, you cannot trade players - even during the season! Speaking of the season mode, there are very little options in this mode as well. You can't choose how many games you want to play (it defaults at 52 games) or the number of games to eliminate a team in the playoffs. Luckily, you can simulate games if 52 is too long for your tastes. Also, the base running can be tricky at first, but it does become easier after a couple practice games.
Despite a few minor dents, MLB Slugfest 20-03 is by far the most enjoyable PS2 or PS One baseball game I have ever played. Sure, it might not be realistic (you can rake in a double digit score in only 2 innings), but this is how I like my sports titles. Is it worth a purchase? In my opinion, "yes". But if you're looking for a baseball game with more depth and realism, look elsewhere, cause you definitely won't find it here.
Graphics: 9 Sound: 8 Music: 7 Replay Value: 8
Overall Score: 8.7
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