MLB Slam! is the first baseball game for the N-Gage, and, to be blunt, it's horrible.
MLB Slam! is the first baseball game for the N-Gage, and, to be blunt, it's horrible. While it does attempt to stand up to other stat-heavy sports games by offering realistic roster and player statistics, the game itself is so simplistic that these numbers don't even come in to play in the slightest. Baseball fans looking for a realistic experience will be sorely disappointed by this game, and even the most casual of players will be bored within minutes by a baseball game that simply isn't fun to play.
Featuring all 30 Major League Baseball teams with rosters accurate for the 2003 season, MLB Slam! offers baseball fans the chance to play as their favorite teams with all the players you'd expect. It also has a handful of modes, such as the ability to play a full season or to play against other player via the N-Gage's built-in Bluetooth capabilities. However, the realism stops here. As a baseball game, and the first offering of its kind for the N-Gage, this game is far behind the times in terms of gameplay. While it is easy enough to pick up and play, it is also addled with bugs and quirks that make the game both simplistic and frustrating at the same time.
As previously mentioned, every MLB team is represented with an accurate roster. However, the players on the field and in the batter's box all look the same, save for a change in skin tone when appropriate. In addition to this, all batters share an identical strike zone, and they perform identically regardless of their real-life skills at the plate. Hitting a ball is as easy as moving a target to where the pitch will cross the plate and pressing the swing button at the correct time. Within just a few innings, you'll find yourself scoring a huge number of runs with little opposition.
On the defensive side, MLB Slam! takes a similarly simple approach. Fielding is generally taken care of automatically, although on occasion, your player simply won't even attempt to move after a ball that's been hit into play. Likewise, sometimes he may fail to respond when instructed to move. This alone makes the fielding portion of the game frustrating. Stranger still, you can make infield plays to first base before your infielder even has possession of the ball, which makes ground balls easy outs every time. In short, this portion of the game is, for all intents and purposes, unfinished.
Finally, pitching--as you might expect--is also rudimentarily presented. You're given an assortment of two to four pitches to choose from, a target within the strike zone where you'd like the ball to cross the plate, and a basic power meter to determine how fast your pitch will be. By carefully working the corners of the strike zone, you can easily overpower the opposing team's batters every time. In all, MLB Slam! is a simple baseball game that fails to play solidly, let alone implement the player statistics that it contains. To make matters worse, the longer you play the game, the worse it runs. As your game stretches on into the later innings, you'll often find the game slowing down, and you'll encounter some considerable difficulties with button response to presses, thus making the game virtually unplayable at times.
Visually, MLB Slam! looks and sounds as good as it plays. As mentioned before, every player on the field looks exactly the same, and each is poorly rendered with just a few frames of animation. You're given the choice of several different stadiums to play in, and, of course, they all look the same. Additionally, the game is also mostly silent. While the game does offer sound that is triggered by certain events, such as a strikeout or a home run, the audio is heavily compressed and sounds tinny. Just as outfielders won't chase after balls on occasion, the game's sounds also fail to trigger some of the time.
In all, MLB Slam! is a game that is impossible to recommend to anyone. Its poorly designed gameplay and boring, bug-filled graphics would prevent even the most rabid baseball fan from enjoying what is presented.