Sony seems to have put a lot into this game, but it lacks polish.
Playing MLB '98 on the PlayStation reminds me of having been forced to play Little League as a kid and confirms that baseball is a game best enjoyed recreationally in a non-competitive, simple environment. Nothing about MLB '98 really grabs my attention and I think my time could be better spent playing Golgo 13. Sure, MLB '98 has all the features a person would expect from a 32-bit baseball game, but it doesn't necessarily provide a more enjoyable game of baseball than any other title.
Sony has certainly done its homework on what features should be included in a baseball game in order for it to succeed in the current marketplace. MLB '98 includes: all the Major League Baseball players, stadiums, and teams; exhibition, season, All-Star Game, play-off, World Series, and home run derby gameplay modes; the ability to create, trade, and track the statistics of players; and all the current rosters with updated stats, as well as the newly implemented inter-league play. With a list of features as long as your arm, Sony has its bases covered (no pun intended).
MLB '98 offers its own unique play control system that takes some getting used to. The batting and pitching are a bit more difficult to figure out than with most baseball titles; aiming with the direction pad and pushing the X button will pitch and hit the ball, but when it's used in conjunction with other buttons you can implement a different pitch or adjust your batting stance. The fielding also differs from most baseball games in that the buttons rather than the direction pad are used to throw the ball from base to base. Once you get the hang of the controls though, the game plays smoothly and offers the most intricate play control of any baseball game on the market. And when set to veteran or all-star difficulty, the game offers enhanced batting control, as well as player fatigue.
The graphics in MLB '98 look good, but not great. The 3-D polygonal players are smooth, yet they are far from realistic. The multiple camera angles spice up the stale batter's perspective, but not enough to make the game interesting. The animation flows nicely, especially the little nuances like having the player kick dirt, but the 3-D look implemented here actually makes you feel like you're playing Tekken instead of a baseball game. Additionally, the game has a glaring bug involving season play. If you make trades while a season is active, you won't be able to save your game and your existing saved game will be deleted. The soundtrack, however, is solid - a mix of organ music and play-by-play commentary - and aside from the announcer's over-enthusiasm for fly balls that never become home runs, it fits the game just fine. In sum, Sony seems to have put a lot into this game, but it lacks polish.
MLB '98 will please die-hard baseball game fans looking for something a bit different. It's not the best baseball game available for the PlayStation, but the unique play control system definitely makes it refreshing. The average player will probably find something better by Christmas, or, like me, decide to invest time in lighter, arcade-type gaming pursuits.
- Game Universe:
- MLB Slugfest 20-03 (PS2, XBOX, GC),
- MLB 2004 (PS2, PS),
- MLB Slugfest 20-04 (PS2, XBOX, GC, GBA),
- Major League Baseball 2K5 (XBOX, PS2, XBOX, PS2),
- Major League Baseball 2K6 (X360, XBOX, GC, PS2, PSP),
- Major League Baseball 2K7 (X360, PSP, XBOX, PS3, PS2, DS, GBA),
- MLB (PSP),
- MLB 2006 (PS2, PS),
- MLB 2003 (PS),
- MLB 2002 (PS)
- Number of Players: