The Best Baseball Simulator out there
Metalhead already has such a great foundation here that it wouldn't be smart to make any dramatic or extensive changes. The contextual traits were a perfect addition to the game. The core of the game is basically the same, but players now have so much more personality than before. My co-op partner and I are playing a season with the Trackers, and we've taken to calling our #5 batter in the order, "Low-pitch Lee," because he has a preference for pitches in that location. We call our closer "The Accountant," because he's so calm and calculated under pressure. I would be surprised if other players didn't do something similar with their teams.
However, there are a couple of things I found irritating:
- It's difficult to find the right ego balance. 50 seems good for me if I'm playing against a fast pitcher, but I can handle 55 if the pitcher is not throwing as hard.
- This issue is exacerbated if the pitcher has a sidearm or submarine delivery - it takes so long to pick up where the pitch is headed! If the pitcher has one of these delivery styles, I'm almost constantly swinging late, even if the pitcher doesn't throw very hard.
- The game seems to often default to the wrong fielder after the ball is hit. I haven't quite ironed out how to quickly switch to the player that makes the most sense to catch the fly ball, etc.
- A related issue is that if your infielder dives after a ground ball too early, the dive will end up being too short (for some reason). Even if you have an idea about where the ball is going already you have to wait to dive, which feels odd.
- Plays at the plate are brutal. If a baserunner from the opposing team is on 3rd with less than 2 outs, you're going to need to strike out that batter to prevent that runner from scoring.
- I'm having much more trouble in this game nailing down power hits and power pitches than I did in the previous iteration. The timing seems to be so precise, that I just use the standard pitch and contact hit instead.
Even with these caveats, Super Mega Baseball 3 is exceptional. The tactile feel of getting perfect contact, the satisfaction of fooling the batter with an unexpected curveball, the delight of turning a perfect double play, the joy of eking out an extra base - it's a thrilling experience for any baseball fan. The hitting/baserunning and pitching/fielding role divisions are perfect for cooperative play.
My co-op partner and I are almost done with our first season. We'll likely do another later in which we name all of our players after friends and family members. I can't wait, as the contextual traits will add another layer to our customization.
If you liked SMB2, welcome back! You'll love SMB3. If you like baseball in general and you haven't played SMB before - what are you waiting for? This is the best baseball game out there.