MLB Front Office Manager Review
It should be noted before I start this review that I am an avid baseball fan. As I type this I am wearing a Ryan Braun jersey of the Milwaukee Brewers. I won’t miss a game for any real reason, and I am preparing my satellite radio right now to listen to the game in an hour. Therefore I have my very modest (okay, I’m a professional) opinions about what should happen to each baseball team, and like most enthusiastic baseball fans, I believe I am right without a doubt. The guy that signs players (General Manager) of each team knows nothing compared to what I know. Yes, I’m that kind of guy.
Therefore this was a game I actually preordered and bought on release day – me and one other guy in all of Madison, Wisconsin. It was even more desirable in that the opening price was around forty dollars, instead of the usual sixty. The game was described as the epitome of games for baseball enthusiasts – a game where you become the general manager of any baseball team and control them for years and years, deciding on salaries, free agents, foreign investment, coaches, etc. I had never heard a game described so perfectly for me, so I was extremely excited.
Let me tell you about the game. You start off by making your manager – you can make them look like you or what not, and you can assign him attributes. These attributes consist of but are not limited to contract negotiation, confidence that the team/owner feels in you, etc. It’s a little hidden though – you have to press the bumpers of the controller – and I honestly missed most of the extra information the first time. If you don’t notice it you get set a default setting, which is fine. You then choose what team you want to manage, and any of the thirty is fair game.
The game is extremely detailed in that each player has designated statistics. Since the game must continue for an extreme amount of years they also designated statistics for every minor league player in every system as well. They also formulated the drafts for the following years. If you know anything about baseball, this has it all. You’ll see arbitration hearings, free agency, the rule 5 draft, etc.
Onto the problems – As you can tell I considered myself very intelligent in the sport of baseball – but even I wasn’t good at this game. The first time I played through it I made some drastic changes and it led to defeat with my Milwaukee Brewers. I won about 30 games throughout the season. “Fine” I said to myself, “I’ll play a season with the exact same team, not changing a thing”. Yes, I had to lose CC Sabathia due to payroll restriction, but I kept everyone else. I won about 20 games. I won about 20 games in the whole season, after the exact same team, the one that was put on the field in 2008, won ninety games and won the national league wild card.
“I must be doing something wrong” I thought to myself. “I’ll just grab a big payroll team and sign the free agents with the highest stats, just to get used to the game”. So I picked the Yankees, signed some big names (Teixiera, Sabathia, Sheets) and put it out there. I won 30 games. “Are you kidding me?” I thought to myself. “I must be doing something wrong.” I wasn’t. I really wasn’t. This game is ridiculously hard for some reason. There are no difficulty selections either. The only thing I could figure out is what my manager was still young and inexperienced, and didn’t have his stats built up. “Fine” I thought to myself, “I’ll just let the game run for a couple of years, totally free up my payroll, and let the game give me some pity stats.” This didn’t happen – the game only upgrades your stats if you win. Do you understand what I’m saying? You have to be good to get better! I wasn’t the only one with this problem – I had many of my friends try, without me saying a thing about any of the game – and they all failed miserably as well. On chat boards on other web sites everyone says that the game is ridiculously hard.
Now I know lots of things about baseball that most people don’t. The average fan has very little idea about what arbitration means, so I felt I had an edge on them. Yet I still couldn’t do even remotely okay at this game. It’s not like I’m upset that I didn’t win the world series on the first try – I can’t even compete for second to last place in my division! Not even with the best team!
There are some other problems with this game’s basic single player. There is no real tutorial in the game – there are some message prompts as you go – but you’ll definitely screw something up your first time through. It is very ambiguous what your payroll stands at, and you’ll often times use too much of your payroll signing free agents before you pay up for arbitration hearings (keeping your current young players). As a side note the game has some fundamental flaws with some basic understandings of baseball. The best pitching doesn’t usually beat the best hitting, which means big name pitchers are usually a waste of your money. Also leaving a player in the minor leagues for a longer time to develop doesn’t translate to better stats for them.
Beyond that there is the problem of when this game was created. Although it was released at the start of our current 2008/2009 depression, the game didn’t seem to recognize this. Bobby Abreu (Made 20 million in 2008, signed for 5 million with the angels in 2009) signs for 25 million in the game. Ben Sheets signs for 20 million (even though he isn’t even playing this year). Beyond that, players seem to have no loyalty. Derek Jeter left my Yankee team in exchange for more money on the Twins. Yea right, no way, get real.
Figuring out what to do is only part of the problem. You’ll have to navigate through many menu items to find out what you need. You can easily accidentally ignore important aspects of the game (spending funding to find young players in different parts of the world was something I didn’t notice the first time through). You’ll get emails daily telling you some of the important transactions of the other teams, notably free agent signings. You’ll also get told when some teams are being disappointed with some of their player’s production, and it is basically an opportunity for you to propose a more advantageous trade. You’ll also get told of fan excitement of the signing of big free agent names and what not.
Beyond the signing and trading and what not, you can actually play each game if you really want to, but I say play very loosely. You stay as the manager during the game and have some very simplistic choices. You can choose whether the batter should swing away, bunt, hit and run, etc. You decide if the pitcher should intentionally walk, pitch to the batter, etc.
There is a large problem with this in that you cannot choose to change your mind in the middle of the at bat, which is a pretty important part of baseball strategy. You’ll often get upset as your guy swings away at 3-0 because you had previously told him to. For how deep the gameplay is, this is a real setback. You can manage the spring training games, the regular season games, the postseason games if you get there, and the minor league team games if you feel like it. It takes about 20 minutes to manage a single game, so you will obviously not be doing it every single time, and honestly, it gets pretty boring pretty fast. There is a great simulate button that you can use for an individual game or basically fast forward the whole game. The simulate button will stop when important events are happening (all-star break, trade deadline).
Injuries are relatively frequent. You can choose to fix it yourself or just have the computer do it. The same goes for setting your lineup. It will get real upset at you if you have an invalid line up. At the end of the season you are awarded a payroll for the next season based on your performance.
Honestly the game has some major flaws in the gameplay that make even the most knowledgeable baseball fan get upset. The graphics and sound are another problem that will be discussed below.
Single player score: 4/10
You can join online fantasy leagues in the multiplayer. You can customize the league with fantasy drafts and create your own rules. You can choose either Rotisserie or Head-To-Head. You could also do this against a computer A.I. if you felt like it. Yea, this is cool, but it requires your friends to have the game as well, because, well, fantasy baseball isn’t that much fun against strangers. Secondly very few people own the game as well, and are mostly too frustrated at the single player to have even noticed this mode. Plus you can get the same thing on Yahoo! For free…
Multiplayer score: 5/10
Now I understand that the game got released at a cheap price, which translates to half-done work throughout the game. But I assumed that this was because of the very simplistic gameplay that wouldn’t require much programming to make work. Instead they were cheap on everything, especially the graphics. When you are in a game, managing, you’ll be seeing a diamond with basic human shapes standing around. Once you make your choice of what to do a new square will appear in the middle of the screen which will show you the batter and pitcher, and a very simple swing and hit. You won’t be able to track the baseball once it is hit, and you’ll be wishing for the graphics of “baseball” on the Nintendo.
If you’re in the Menu selection area, you’ll have even more of a fun time. You must play this game on a high definition setting or else you won’t be able to read a thing. They didn’t make the text large enough, or clear enough. The wording is vague a lot of the time too, which will make you wonder exactly what you’re clicking around on. The only motion you’ll see throughout the game is your manager either celebrating or being upset at the end of a game if you decided to manage it. It’s lackluster to say the least.
Graphics score: 2/10
Uh, there is sound in this game? You’ll be hearing mostly nothing while navigating the menus. You’ll get a loud sound when you open up an important email that will physically scare you out of your seat. If you’re managing a game you’ll hear the generic sounds of the ball hitting the bat, but little else. I’ve actually never heard worse sound in a disc based video game, and that includes Sneak King. I felt really awkward, and had to turn on music from my harddrive.
Sound score: 1/10
These achievements are the epitome of game replay achievements. You would assume an achievement would be “win the world series”, and in fact there is one. There are about 10. Win the world series for the first time with the Brewers, the Rays, the Rockies, the Nationals, the everything! I have 65/1000, 4 of the twenty-five achievements. I could easily get about one more (manage a minor league team), but the rest are basically completion based ones. They really make you play the game over and over and over, which is upsetting, considering that beating the game even once is an accomplishment. No, I don’t know what they could have made them, but that isn’t my job. They are bad achievements and I greatly despise them. I have spent time trying to get them (legitimately). You can try to mess with the system enough/look it up on the internet that you can stockpile the achievements, but considering I’m still trying to like this game, I haven’t gotten to that point yet.
Achievement score: 3/10
There is no DLC for this game.
DLC Score: N/a
Final Score: 5/10
• Includes real name players. The amount of pure content they have in the game is astounding.
• First game of its kind
• Fantasy baseball can be fun
• If you’re not playing on a high definition television, you won’t be able to read a thing
• “Tutorial” system is absolutely horrendous
• Even the most knowledgeable baseball fan will be lost
• Outdated money amounts, confusing gameplay, confusing balance between pitching and hitting
• Managing is way too simplistic after the amount of depth they give you in the gameplay
• Game is way too hard, especially since they give you no difficulty options
• Graphics and sound are laughable
Wait till this hits ten dollars before you even consider purchasing it. Otherwise, avoid this game. It really hurts me to tell you this considering how excited I was for this game, but it really isn’t any good at all. Even for the achievement junkie it doesn’t stand out. Huge disappointment, unfortunately. If you have any comments or questions write them below or message me. My username is tasty pastry.