PS2 REVIEW: MVP 06 NCAA BASEBALL
Although this mechanic can rip you out of the reality of the game by giving you an upperhand, you can use it to great benefit once you begin to recognize the pitches with more frequency.

Pitching has retained the feel of previous MVP games and involves more hands on control than other baseball games. You'll need to choose a pitch as well as its location, then stop one meter for effectiveness and another for accuracy. With this much control over pitching, you'll marvel at how sweet it is to strike out someone and know that it was your skills that accomplished it.

Fielding has also been upgraded to take advantage of the R analog stick. In previous baseball games of the past, throwing to the bases required a simply face button press to the corresponding base. Since most controller face buttons are mapped in a diamond shape, it made sense to represent the bases in this manner. Fielding in NCAA MVP 06 therefore is the games weakest point due to this unfortunately for a couple of reasons. The first is that analog sticks can be quite touchy in terms of a precise directional command. For example pressing 'left' might register left/up which in this game causes you to blow your throw. EA also thought it would be a good idea to allow a power up zone to register onscreen before you release your throw. While this increases the gameplay factor, it tends to lose a little something in actual execution. Secondly, since this is a college league the AI has been created to play a less than stellar game in comparison to the pros. So expect your throws to miss more than often than they did in MVP 05. I'm not knocking the game for what it is; it's great that there is a forced reality here which makes the players make more rookie mistakes than the major leagues, but after awhile you want these guys to learn how to catch a simple throw. Is that too much to ask? In any event, I discovered a plethora of sliders to manipulate 'backstage' which will have positive effects on your players abilities given that you can adjust their accuracy, speed et al. You can also alter the configuration and return to button mapped fielding if you desire.

While actual college players will be disappointed that their likenesses haven't been captured for the game, spending time in the robust Create A Player zone should remedy the situation quickly. I don't imagine it would take anyone too long to create a decent representation of themselves, given that EA has been finetuning this feature for years now. Ballparks can also be created and while this mode isn't as detailed as what you would have found in an official MLB licensed product, it should definitely do the trick. Since I'm not familiar with college parks, I can't tell you what level of accuracy you'll be able to achieve but I'm sure it will be satisfactory. Of course the game will also allow you to create your own team as well. This will all come into play in Dynasty Mode.

Playing Dynasty Mode is exactly what the doctor ordered for purists, although a quick game can be started at anytime, offline or online. The key to NCAA's Dynasty Mode is recruitment. During a season you'll be given a list of the top high school players. From here you'll have to decide whom to go after. You'll have to get into the minute details of shmoozing with these players by sending out letters, emails, visits and phonecalls. The more your team wins throughout the season, the more impact this will have on your ability to recruit. As well, wins and losses will play out favorably or negatively with recruitees depending on your scorecard. Frequent challenges will arise during a season that if you succeed will net you some cool extras such as new gear. This feature has been trimmed considerably when compared to last years game, but it's still an area that players will appreciate nonetheless.

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