XBOX REVIEW: MVP 06 NCAA BASEBALL

Finally a game where "Swing Batta! Swing!" is actually a real gameplay mechanic! by Vaughn Smith

January 25, 2006 - Turnabout is fair play after all. After 2K Games managed to snap up the official MLB license, EA was left feeling a little like 2K and Midway must have felt when they found out EA had gobbled up the official NFL license. Not to be deterred, EA's idea people put their collective imaginations together and came up with a working plan: create an NCAA baseball game! The finished product is a great spirtual successor to last years fantastic MVP Baseball 2005 (one of CCC's nominees for Top Sports Title of 2005) featuring some excellent additions and tweaks which should please MVP fans to no end. While the pro license will be missed by some, it's not at all a dealbreaker in my books considering you can play MVP with either college or pro rules.

If you're unfamiliar with college baseball, chances are you're probably not in college...or Canadian. I resemble both of those remarks but I know enough to get by and I am quite familiar with the sport having ran around a few thousand bases in my lifetime (give or take a few thousand). Playing MVP the correct way, fans might be a little confused by the changes to the core game. First off, college baseball favors aluminum bats over wood. Secondly, the game is played with more caution than the pro leagues in terms of take-out slides and collisions at home plate. Slides have played a big part in terms how the game is played - if you're running to a base and the baseman has the ball and is waiting to tag you, you can slide into the base in an attempt to touch the base with your foot before he can tag you. A take-out slide is far more dangerous because the slider attempts to "remove" the baseman physically from his position. Since players are wearing cleats this move can cause some serious damage to the player on the receiving end. Home plate collisions are also a no no in the NCAA, and can result in an out, if the player running to home could have avoided the collision. This will result in a dead ball and all previous runners will have to return to the base they were past when the infraction occured. The NCAA's 10-run rule is also in effect which means that if any team manages to achieve ten runs more than the other team at any time, the game will be called in their favor. If you'd rather play the game with MLB pro rules, simply set your options to "summer" and thy will be done.

Improvements to batting and pitching make MVP a must have for accuracy purists. Batting is now mapped to the R analog stick. Load your swing by pressing down on the R analog stick, and then once the ball is on its way, press up to swing. It might take awhile to get used to the nuance of this new mechanic but it will make all the difference in your game once you do. For extra power and distance, but less contact press and hold L trigger while swinging for a Power Swing; press and hold R trigger for a Contact Swing which allows you to make better contact with the ball, but decreases your distance and power - great for getting the ball in play after a hit and run for example. The vantage point for batting has also been moved back a little giving you a greater visual advantage when it comes to picking off pitches...and this is extremely important in NCAA 06.

Watching the pitch is key (not that it wasn't before, mind you..) as you will be given visual color clues a split second after the pitch has been thrown which will clue you in as to what kind of pitch is coming your way:

  • Fast Ball = White
  • Off-Speed Pitch = Green
  • Breaking Pitch = Red
  • Sinking Pitch = Purple
  • Knuckle Ball = Orange
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System: X, PS2
Dev: EA
Pub: EA
Release: Jan 2006
Players: 1 - 4
Review by Vaughn