Search For Posters!
  Join the SGN staff!
Help Wanted
Release Dates


About Us

The Sports

Partner Links
Auto Insurance Quote
Irvine Moving Companies
LA Moving Companies
Brand Name Shoes

MLB 2000 (PSX) Review

Background Info






While the months leading up to Christmas usually offer a glut of great titles to choose from, by far my favorite time of the videogame year is the Spring, when I eagerly await the latest incarnations of the various baseball titles coming to the PSX.

This year EA Sports' Triple Play 2000 (TP2000) has gotten more than its fair share of spring training hype, and though that game is much improved, MLB 2000 (MLB2K) deserves just as much attention from baseball fans eager to swing the bat or throw heat as their favorite big-leaguers.

Presentation/Graphics : 75
Let's get this out of the way right now: if you are expecting any kind of graphical overhaul from MLB2K, you'll be disappointed as I was. Basically this game looks perhaps a tad better than 99, but it's pretty much the same, visually. Animations are recycled as well, from the pitchers' strikeout celebration to the batters stepping into the box - if you've played MLB in the last couple years, not much will surprise you.

While this is ultimately disappointing, there are still things which MLB does much better than the competition. First, the players are all basically physically different, i.e. Mike Piazza has a different build than Hideo Nomo. Along with differences in stature, 989 Studios has done an excellent job of representing a vast array of batting stances and pitching deliveries. You'll recognize Mo Vaughn and Mark McGwire instantly.

The other point where MLB has an edge on the competition is in player animation. Everyone moves very naturally without the jerkiness and stuttering of some other titles. The stadiums look pretty good as well, though the available camera angles are set up more for the action, rather than the aesthetics of the ballparks. Overall, I'd have to summarize my graphical description as "pretty much the same as last year, but good enough for me."

Presentation/Audio : 85
Basic sound effects in the game such as the crack of the ball on the bat, umpire calls, and crowd noise are all excellent, and create a proper baseball atmosphere. The two-man commentary by Vin Scully and Dave Campbell is fairly solid, but far from perfect. The announcers will sometimes repeat each other, make comments late enough to be almost irrelevant, and can at times become a bit tedious. This isn't a huge deal because they also provide relevant information, and they are ultimately no better or worse than what I've heard in other games this year.

Interface/Options : 95
The menus in MLB2K have a whole new look, and they are very slick and user-friendly. Navigating through them to find a particular feature or to change an option is a breeze.

The controls in the MLB series have always been very tight, and this year's edition is no exception. The heart of any baseball game is the batter/pitcher interface, and in my opinion, MLB has always had the best setup on the PSX. The pitcher is able to pinpoint a location, and depending on the type of pitch and the velocity at which it is thrown, the actual location will vary. The batter has a batting cursor (which is optional this year) - a large rectangle with a small square in the center that represents the "sweet spot" of the bat - which must be positioned over the ball (and the swing timed properly) in order to hit it. This has been my favorite batting style since the original Bottom of the Ninth because it allows for more precision, realism, and overall difficulty (which I like).

989 Studios has fortunately retained the use of the four main controller buttons to represent the bases - a system which I find much more appealing than using the d-pad. It just seems to make more sense to me somehow. Fielding control is spot-on as usual, with no complaints to speak of, and with the usual "fielding aid" which can be turned off if you want.

One thing I must mention is the "Total Control" factor in this game. Frankly, I don't use it. It makes perfect sense in Gameday, leading or throwing behind receivers and such. But what they dub "total control" in this series actually amounts to a degree of automation. Hold the L2 button as your fielder is approaching a ball, and he'll make a spectacular throw/play with no further controller input required. The batting part of TC amounts to guessing the location and/or type of pitch. A correct guess will lock the cursor onto the target, leaving you only to time the swing properly to get a good chance at a hit. Guess wrong and the cursor shrinks in size, making it more difficult to make contact. Not bad, but not my cup of tea. Gladly it can be ignored altogether.

Gameplay : 95
I've already gone over the mechanics of batting and pitching, so let's look at how they affect gameplay. First, the pitching system gives you unprecedented control over pitch location and velocity. Aim a curve at the top of the strike zone but don't put much juice behind the throw, and it will make a very effective arc just as it should. Sliders placed just outside can nip the corners. This is the type of control that major league pitchers have over their stuff, and it's very nice to have that translated so effectively.

One thing often missing from baseball games, or games against the CPU anyway, is called strikeouts. Very often CPU opponents are programmed to swing at anything that would register as a strike. Fortunately in MLB this is not only possible, but it works great. This is not because the batting AI is stupid, but it is the result of smart pitch selection and placement. Well, it can be if you know what you're doing.

Batting cursors, in general, seems to be a "love it or hate it" kind of thing. Personally, I don't get much satisfaction or feeling of accomplishment from merely timing a swing. A cursor gives you absolute control over where, or if, you hit the ball. I like a good challenge, and I think a cursor best replicates the process of hitting a baseball. That's not to say that it's frustratingly difficult or off-putting in any way. In fact, as mentioned earlier, the cursor can be turned off at any difficulty level. As a matter of personal taste, it's nice that the choice is there if you want it.

In the course of a game there is a proper mix of singles, doubles, the occasional triple, and of course, homeruns. Gladly the HR-fest that was MLB99 has been toned-down to a more realistic level. When you hit one, you'll just appreciate it that much more. Another important point is that the players are the proper size in relation to the field so that the gaps exist as they should, and singles drop in where they should.

MLB's AI has been tuned a bit from last year as well. For example, in the past the CPU would try to stretch almost every long single into a double and get thrown out easily at second. There are still some issues that should be resolved at some point (clearing throat): on broken steal/hit & run attempts the CPU still allows you to return to the original base without a throw or a rundown; runners still don't run through first base, but rather stop on it instantly; and runners coming home will still plow through the catcher before the ball gets there - this just doesn't happen in reality, catchers step forward out of the basepath if there isn't a play so they don't get blindsided.

MLB's most unique feature is back this year: Spring Training Mode. This allows you to create a player, draft him to a team, and then have him try to make the roster. You need to earn a certain number of points (through offensive performance) to make the team, and if you do make the squad, you need to keep up a certain level of performance or you'll be sent back down to the minors. If you earn enough points, you can even make the league's All Star team. This mode adds a lot to the fun and uniqueness of the game, not to mention it's long-term value.

You can also take on the role of GM this year, and each team has a farm system to take advantage of. You can bring players up to give them a shot at the big leagues, or send them back down if they fail. This is also where you would make trades, sign free agents, or keep track of players on the injured reserve list. Unfortunately only the 1999 schedule is available, although you can completely realign the leagues if you're in the mood for something different.

Difficulty : 85
The main challenge in MLB2K, as in most baseball games, comes from out-hitting and out-pitching the computer. There are imperfections in the AI, as previously mentioned, and you are in no danger of being out-managed by the CPU. If you are a MLB veteran, you might as well start at the highest difficulty level, which provides a nice level of challenge. Otherwise, the easier settings are just about right for newcomers to the series.

Overall : 87
To be honest, I'm somewhat torn about this game. The utter lack of graphical improvements is disappointing, and the recycled animations and AI shortcomings should have been addressed by 989. But ultimately the game has been improved enough to make a difference, and in my mind MLB2K, despite the hype showered on other titles, still stands as the best baseball game on the PSX. Its batter/pitcher confrontation is unequaled, and its extra features such as the GM and Spring Training modes add to the overall value of the title. I recommend MLB 2000 without hesitation.

By: Andy L. 4/7/99

© 1998-2006 Sports Gaming Network. Entire legal statement. Feedback

Other Links:
[Free Credit Report  |   Car Insurance Quotes  |   Designer Shoes  |   Outdoor Equipment

MVP Baseball 2003
Street Hoops
Mad Catz Xbox Hardware

Inside Pitch 2003
MLB Slugfest 20-04
Tennis Masters Series



[an error occurred while processing the directive]