MLB Perfect Inning Review: One for the Fans
It’s truly hard to believe summer is just on the horizon. With each passing spring, the wide world of sports brings us yet another season of America’s past time, baseball. Mobile gaming juggernaut, Gamevil, rings in this yearly tradition with a stunning rendition of this cherished game with their new title: MLB Perfect Inning.
Let’s face it, mobile gaming – even on such a tremendous scale like Perfect Inning – usually comes off as lackluster and tiresome, especially when it comes packaged free-to-play, where your success may hinge on dropping a few dimes.
Even if you stray from any sort of microtransaction you are essentially handicapped, and must submit to an arduous “grind” in order to keep up. But for fans of baseball, both options in MLB Perfect Inning seem plausible.
It’s awe-inspiring to see how far graphics have come on mobile devices these days, and MLB Perfect Inning really does shine. From the crisp, springy atmospheres of each team’s individual stadiums, to the life-like player animations, it truly takes you out to the ball game.
Sure, many players are textured with a handful of reused generic looks, and the crowd – upon close inspection – seems to be made of cardboard cut-outs, but these factors can be easily overlooked given the already outdone aesthetic of everything else. MLB Perfect Inning is definitely one of the most beautiful mobile experiences, hands down.
Aside from the expected crack of bats, snap of mitts, and slides through sand, MLB Perfect Inning provides some pretty decent audio. From the wailing cheers of a leadoff home run, to the consistent crowd chatter throughout the lesser exciting portions of a baseball game, the crowd noise comes off authentic.
The game also features a few licensed tracks from some AAA rock bands, which is kind of cool…at first. However, the game does its best to limit the same handful of tracks to just minor instances within the actual gameplay, and relies on generic sports scores throughout.
We all know that the core of any review stems from actual gameplay, and it is here where MLB Perfect Inning draws a dividing line in the sand.
For ages, I have been waiting for a mobile baseball game that combines the ease and casualness of a “jump-in-and-play” sports title (much like the classic NES game Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball), with crisp, realistic graphics. While Perfect Inning succeeds in the latter, it flounders in the former.
The game unfortunately gets bogged down by the amount of attention you have to give to each individual player’s stats, and lengthy game times. A standard nine-inning game can take up 30 minutes, and if you leave paused in the background of your phone, it severely hemorrhages your battery.
The game unfortunately gets bogged down by the amount of attention you have to give to each individual player’s stats, and lengthy game times.
This leads to a tremendous amount of difficulty upon starting your first games. You will lose. You will lose by a lot – even if you choose a team with a stacked roster. This of course can be combated by spending real money on the game, earing you “stars” which allow you upgrade your team faster.
However, for those of us who are “free-riders,” playing games daily and unlocking achievements will net you gold, which you can exchange for stars at a pretty decent rate. However, this method takes quite a bit of devotion – far too much for just a casual player.
Despite the balanced free-to-play/pay-to-win ratio, the actual mechanics are a bit head scratching. First off, pitching and fielding come off incredibly easy. That is, until the batter your pitching against somehow knocks the ball out of the park, even after your pitch come across “perfect” on the game’s scale. As far as fielding, all you need to know is the basic strategy for baseball – double plays, grounders thrown to first, etc. Sadly, there is no mechanic for the famed “pickle” scenario in baseball.
Batting on the other hand is quite atrocious, especially with the stock, low-level players you are given in your first series of games. Hitting in MLB Perfect Inning seems to require the use of a mystical, non-existent third eye. The pitch is thrown and you must move your bat to where it is predicted to land in the batter’s box. Then, somehow, pinpoint the right time to actually swing while keeping track of where you placed your imaginary bat. Like in a real batting scenario, where your bat is positioned upon a hit is everything. It could mean the difference between a base hit and a pop-fly. The game offers an auto-placement feature that pre-positions the bat for you, but 60% of the time it seems to miscalculate, or even purposely set your swing up for the weakest part of the bat.
Aside from the horrible batting mechanic, hitting in general in this game is just disappointing. It took me 2 whole games to even get a base hit, and even longer to score a single run. In order to really “keep your eye on the ball” you have literally put your face within an inch and a half of the screen. When you finally get a few runners on base, your next hitter is likely to either hit a dainty infield grounder (resulting in a double play) or crack a pop-fly that results in an instant out. Offense in this game is truly disappointing.
As I mentioned earlier in this review (and in the title), MLB Perfect Inning is definitely one for lovers of the game. If you choose to go the truly free-to-play route, you better love baseball, because it’s going to take a tremendous amount of games to level your players up to a competitive edge.
It could have definitely used a practice mode (especially with batting) in order to hone your skills on the diamond, as the games can get a little repetitive and offer no real deviation. I could see this being a staple in any true baseball fans mobile game library, but for someone who just wants to crack some homers and throw some strikes every once in a while it’s just not worth the time or effort – regardless of how beautiful it is.
Nevertheless, even if you aren’t a hardcore baseball addict and just like the idea of having a beautiful game to show off to your friends, MLB Perfect Inning is great if you have half of an hour to spare, sort of know the ins and outs of the game, and don’t mind losing. A lot.
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