This second edition of MVP Baseball improves quite a bit from its first release, fixing glaring omissions such as bull-pen pitchers and coaching visits to the mound, and completely revamping the hitting system. The pitching-and-defensive system is tighter as well, with a console-style control scheme that's much more enjoyable with a game controller. The demo only allows one three-inning game between the Red Sox and the Yankees, but it's a good introduction to the gameplay mechanics. Unfortunately, management-simulation features are only available in the full version.
The graphics and audio in the game are fantastic. Giants announcers Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow offer fantastic play-by-play commentary, with detailed info about each player. The atmosphere of the crowd also is impressive and realistic. Customizable replays show the nitty-gritty details, and MLB superstars have their own signature home-run celebrations. The unique pitching system uses a well-designed meter for gauging accuracy and location, but a dual-analog controller is essential for any success hitting or fielding. The left analog stick controls your players' movements, while the right-analog stick (which can be simulated with the Shift key plus directional buttons on the keyboard) performs dives and jumps when fielding, initiates advanced sliding techniques on the bases, and aims your bat at the plate. Using the Pure Swing System to direct your swing is impossible without a controller. Although the game loses some points for antagonizing gamers sans controllers, the strong graphics, quality gameplay, and excellent attention to detail earn the demo high marks.
In MVP Baseball 2004, the fundamentals of pitching, fielding, and baserunning have been reproduced like never before to give you complete control over every aspect of the game, while the new EA Sports Pure Swing System provides unprecedented command of each type of swing in every situation. Great gameplay and a variety of features make MVP Baseball 2004 the runaway pennant winner.