MVP 06 NCAA Baseball (10 Minute Impressions)

NCAA Baseball arrived yesterday, forcing me to break my unintentional gaming sabbatical. After getting my PS2 setup and ready for action, I put in NCAA Baseball long enough to get in a couple of innings.

Since I was pressed for time, I selected the quick play option, and selected UGA vs. Texas. I know there are readers that pay particular attention to minute details in their sports games. To be honest, I did not have time to verify rosters, determine if Disch-Falk Field looked 100% accurate, verify that the home and away uniforms were picture perfect, or if Texas’ #1 ranking and UGA’s #74 matched preseason polls. I am sure the Texas ranking is correct, and UGA’s is fairly realistic, but they should be improved over last years barely over .500 record.

Once upon a time all of the above mattered to me, but these days I am fairly content actually getting to play a college baseball game! I did not dive into any of the game setting options, although the game did ask if I wanted to use roster numbers of names (I think these are random generated like NCAA Football).

The load times are very acceptable; pretty much what you expect with a PS2 game, and certainly not overly long. The presentation is nice – the game opens with commentary about the teams, some statistical info, and a description of the starting pitcher’s assortment of pitches. UGA (me in this case) was presented with some info on the starting lineup as my leadoff hitter came to the plate – contact and power numbers. All in all, nice stuff.

If you have followed the game you have read all about the new Load and Fire Batting System. I did not read the instruction manual, so I have no idea if I was approaching this correctly, but before each pitch I pulled back on the right analog stick, and then timed pushing the stick up. The longer I held the stick, the more vibration I would get, so I finally opted just to wait until the pitch was thrown – then I would pull back and flip forward. I had a nice homerun with this approach in the 2nd inning. I was down 1-6 when I turned off the game; after the homerun the announcer made some comment at the end of the inning about how “nicely UGA had made a game of it” (something like that).

I completely screwed the pooch with the new throwing system. The bases are mapped to the right analog stick, so you throw to first by moving the stick to the right. One key here is that there is an indicator around your fielder that seems to show when you should release the ball. To explain, if you hold the stick too long, the indicator turns red and you run the risk of throwing the ball away. I am not sure if this type of system is in other baseball games, but it looks fairly interesting. I gave up a three unearned runs just by practicing throwing the ball around the diamond after a hit (obviously I need some practice).

That is about it after 10 minutes. My first impressions are very positive. For starters we have what appears to be a decent college baseball game. I am sure that gamers that are more dedicated (i.e. they have more time to play) will pick the game a part as they find all sorts of issues; hopefully most of these will be minor in nature. I do not plan to spend much time reading various message boards to see what others have to say – in the past that has been a sure way to spoil a game for me because others uncover things that I would never find.

Hopefully I can live with the game, and enjoy the college baseball experience. It is probably too much to ask (or wish for), but I am keeping my fingers crossed that the game does not have any major issues, it sells reasonably well, and a new franchise is born.

More updates to come.

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