Hands-onMVP Baseball 2003

Check out our impressions of a near-final build of Electronic Arts' MVP Baseball 2003 for the Xbox and PlayStation 2.

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We recently had a chance to play a near-final build of EA's MVP Baseball for the Xbox and PlayStation 2. MVP Baseball's overall design is geared toward delivering a baseball experience that's as authentic as possible, both in terms of how it feels to execute the moves of your players on the field and the resulting effects. While this may seem like an obvious direction for a baseball game to take, MVP Baseball does it with meters and gameplay mechanics not typically associated with simulation-style baseball games. For instance, the pitching mechanism makes it so the player not only has to pick a pitch type, but also has to time the release of the pitch using a meter that directly determines how effective the pitch will be. Even fielders making a throw have a meter to contend with--players must decide whether throwing the ball accurately to a man covering the base is more important than getting the ball there as quickly as possible.

All the skills attributed to the individual players are based on their real-life abilities and statistics. To get the most accurate statistical information, Electronic Arts went to Inside Edge, the same company that supplies the MLB with scouting reports. These stats govern everything in the game, from running speed to batting abilities.

One of the most unique features in MVP Baseball is its simulated game intervention, which allows the player to jump into a game that's being simulated at any time. You can see the scoreboard quickly filling up as the innings pass by, and if your team starts to fall behind, you can interupt the simulation and drop yourself into the middle of the action.

The game also includes a robust franchise mode in which your decisions have an effect on your team's simulated-game winning percentage. Players can also compete in a unique two player split-screen home-run derby that awards points based on how far players hit the ball and subtracts points for hitting foul balls.

Be sure to check back early next week for a full preview and a detailed video tour of MVP Baseball 2003.

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