Surprisingly, quality action-driven baseball on PC is as atypical as a triple play. Sure, Steam has a number of stat driven simulations like the Out of the Park and Baseball Mogul franchises, which offer players the opportunity to be a general manager. But these number-crunching simulations are unlikely to satisfy those yearning for that well-timed swing capable of sending a screamer over the left field wall. After the 2K series stopped being ported to PC in 2012, players who wanted to step to the plate had to survive with the decidedly lackluster R.B.I. Baseball games. At least until the 2015 release of Super Mega Baseball: Extra Innings.
Sure, Metalhead Software’s game seemed like an embellished take on America’s pastime. If the bobble-headed players didn’t inadvertently signal exaggerated mechanics, then the lack of team and player licensing might have turned off a few perspective players. But those who did take a chance on the game found Super Mega Baseball offered an accessible, remarkably faithful, and thoroughly enjoyable interpretation of the sport. With the release of Super Mega Baseball 2, Metalhead proves their successful rookie season was no fluke.
Heading into an exposition game, new season, or pennant race demonstrates the title’s mastery of most of the fundamentals. Take the mound and you’ll be presented with mechanics that allow virtual hurlers to quickly draw from an array of different throws. Execution involves using the right stick to select specific pitches from your players arsenal, moving the left stick to select a target, with a button press putting the player into motion. Before release, there’s a shrinking ring that determines the power of your throw. Importantly, Super Mega Baseball pitching game finds an admirable balance between game speed, approachability, and nuance. Within a few innings, confidence will likely emerge, permitting players to focus on the classic duel between pitcher and batter.
Likewise, stepping up the plate is just as polished. Here, the batter has a targeting cursor and the ability to swing or bunt. Most importantly, Super Mega’s perspective when at bat proves beneficial for reading what’s being thrown. Occasionally, I’ll struggle to follow the trajectory of a pitch as it travels a few scant inches down the screen. But here, the speed and height between batter and pitcher made making contact with the ball achievable. Sure, I still swung at stuff I shouldn’t have, but with Super Mega, I knew I was chasing junk as the ball flew whizzed the batter’s box.
Woefully, fielding doesn’t quite fare as well. One of the biggest problems occurs when you dive for the ball. Not only is there a bit of lag in the player reaction, but your athlete gets locked in an exceedingly long animation. Pop flys can be another issue. While fielders frequently move into position to make the catch, occasionally, they want you to fine tune their location, and the game doesn’t always indicate that adjustment is needed. But beyond these issues, there ‘s some quality coding. Grounders behave realistically, exhibiting some of those erratic bounces with just enough frequency.
Undoubtedly, one of the game’s best attributes is the incorporation of the ‘Ego’ system, which effectively extends one hundred different difficulty levels. Before jumping into a game, you’ll set the amount, with the game subsequently making a lot of adjustments behind the scenes. One example- when you’re throwing to a base, a meter pops up over a player to determine the power of the toss. On lower Ego levels, pushing things into the red zone usually won’t cause any problems. But on higher numbers, expect overthrows to happen. Pleasingly, the game remains reflex based, measuring the timing and accuracy of your interactions. But on higher difficulty levels, there’s many more opportunities for error when battling, fielding, and pitching. It never feels like the number crunching is cheating, just that the game is expecting more from you. Another clever decision is the incorporation of scoring based on your Ego level. That way, those with no interest in competition can challenge themselves.
However, if you are seeking rivalry, Super Mega Baseball 2 accommodates. Beyond an online game against a competitor, two net-based players can take on the CPU, using dedicated servers that flaunted minimal amount of lag. Or if long-term play interests you, the game offers a capable recreation of an 48-game season. It’s here, that Baseball 2 reveals its statistical prowess, with stats for player energy and morale introducing long-term issues for players to manage. While the game doesn’t chase the verisimilitude of something like Out of the Park (giving an underhanded treatment of pitcher fatigue and plater injuries), it does offer insert just enough managerial strategy into day by day play.
With the ability to edit player names and logos, Super Mega Baseball 2 could almost offset any craving for an actual Major League Baseball game. The tools are moderately powerful and naturally- the developers offer pre-made designs via DLC. But woefully, there’s no built-in way of sharing your handiwork online. But for those who’d rather draft their own custom team, you’ll be able to tweak the appearance and abilities of players, changing jerseys, animations, and assigning stats. Agreeably, Super Mega Baseball 2 includes female players, but there’s just not enough flexibility to design, say your own harem of waifu or husbando heavyhitters.
In motion, Super Mega Baseball 2 is a solid performer, without a single framerate hitch on a GTX 1060-powered system outputting at 1080p. The game’s decision to shirk photorealism has its perks, when legions of fans sway in unison or players move with lithe fluidity. And while there are only eight different parks, each offers an eye-pleasing theme that makes real-like locations seem lifeless. Although there’s a bit of announcing, there’s also a lot more taciturnity that most baseball games. Ideally, Metalhead would find a way to integrate commentary into a potential sequel.
Given the scarcity of quality, action-driven baseball games on PC, Super Mega Baseball 2 comes recommended. For the price of a seat in the upper deck, Metalhead Software offers a season’s worth of America’s pastime, that demonstrations an ideal balance between accessibility and nuance. While there are some shortcomings you need to be aware of, the integration of the Ego system helps make this one of the better sports titles of the year.
Super Mega Baseball 2 was played on PC
with review code provided by the publisher.
Platform: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Developer: Metalhead Software
Publisher: Metalhead Software
Release date: April 30th, 2018
Price: $29.99 via digital download, free for Xbox Gold subscribers.