Just in time for opening day, "MLB '06: The Show," for Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable, covers all the bases with lots of style and action.
With easy-to-use controls and a wide range of gameplay options, Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc. has produced another hit with "MLB06" ($39.99, Rated E).
"MLB '06" includes exhibition, career and season modes, home-run derby, king of the diamond and an online feature.
In exhibition mode, players select a team, pitcher, pre-game lineup and the stadium.
Season is a game mode where the players can pick their favorite team and try to lead them to the World Series. Players can switch positions and rearrange the batting order. Gamers can trade players to improve the lineup or bench a player who's slumping.
The season mode is my favorite because you get to make the decisions of a major-league manager, like removing a pitcher, executing a suicide squeeze and sending up a pinch hitter.
In home run derby, take your favorite players from any team and go head-to-head against rivals in a super slugging matchup.
King of the diamond is an arcade-style hitting and pitching contest. There's a time limit and the players must score as many runs as possible.
There are time bonuses and extra points scattered throughout the field. On the pitching end, gamers must keep the hitter from scoring points by throwing pitches by him or getting the batter to hit to your fielders.
The PSP version I tested has an extremely vivid picture and amazing animation quality. It's like watching a real baseball game.
It also has a decent soundtrack including songs from Motion City and Transfer. Even the crowd sounds, including home-team chants, are great.
Gamers can bunt, there are wild pitches, shattered bats and checked swings.
Also, in another nice touch, players' mannerisms like kicking dirt or jawing with umpires on close plays really give the game some attitude.
Three and a half stars out of four.