When EA Sports announced that the MVP franchise was going to forego the Major League Baseball license in favor of college baseball, fans were shocked. However, with additional attention paid to the fielding and batting, a lot of skeptics came around, and MVP 06 was a pleasant surprise. Attempting to improve on last year’s success,EA Canadaand EA Sports is releasingMVP 07 NCAA Baseballin time for the opening games of the college season. However, instead of hitting the next gen systems,MVP 07is coming solely to the PS2. Is this year’s class a hit, or a foul tip?
Last year, MVP 06 changed the way that baseball games were played thanks to the inclusion of analog stick controls. No longer did players need to hit a button to throw a pitch or swing a bat; instead, a player’s success was governed by your timing with the right analog stick. Rock and Fire Pitching is the newest innovation for MVP 07, and its attempt to recreate the sensation and realism of pitching mechanics completes EA Canada’s conceived “Triple Crown” of analog gameplay. It took the development team 14 iterations before they landed on one that worked well, and players will be favorably impressed.The concept behind the system is extremely simple. Players pick their pitch with one of the face buttons (or the R1, if the pitcher has five pitches in their repertoire). From there, players choose where they want to place the ball within the strike zone with the left analog stick before they enter their wind up. This placement affects where the ball will land in the target area within the pitch meter. However, instead of hitting a button to determine the power and the accuracy of the pitch, you use the right analog stick to control these aspects.
Players pull down on the right analog stick to start your wind up, initially setting the amount of power the ball will have as it leaves the pitcher’s hands. As soon as the ball reaches the green area of the meter, players push up and towards the ball icon in the target area of the pitch meter. The closer the pitch cursor gets to the ball in the pitch meter, the more accurate the pitch will be, and the more likely the ball will go exactly where you want it to. Aim away from target area or graze the icon and you’ll find the ball start to get away from your pitcher.
It takes a little time to get used to, but after you’ve spent about a half hour or so with the game, you’ll be firing strikes across home plate without blinking. You may also find that once you’ve played with this pitching system, pressing buttons in other baseball games feels strange. Not only does Rock and Fire make you feel like the pitcher going for a strikeout, it provides you with an additional jump on the ball in case your opponent manages to connect. This is because the fielding controls (known as Precision Throw Control) are tied to the right analog stick as well, so you don’t have to move your fingers in order to pick a player off with a well timed throw from the outfield to the bag. In fact, some players may find it a tad bit easier to turn a double play now because you don’t have to re-adjust from the buttons to the stick.