Baseball Mogul 2007 Review
Radeon 9800 XT
1GB PC3200 RAM
Baseball is a deep, deep game. On the outside, it looks like it isn't much more than one guy throwing a ball and someone else swinging at it. If it gets hit, some guy in the grass area chases after it and tries to catch it. If he does this three times, he even gets a chance to hit the ball!
Of course, there is far more to the game than that overly simplified description. Most of the video games available strike a balance between simulation and arcade-like action. MVP 2005, for example, allowed you to design your stadium and manage non-baseball related elements of your franchise.
Baseball Mogul 2007, on the other hand, is 100% simulation. By that, I mean you do not control a player directly. Instead, you're placed in the shoes of the general manager and, if you choose to be, the manager of the team. You won't be stepping up to bat with the likes of Andruw Jones but you'll have a chance to sign him away from the Braves and coach him to be an even better slugger than he already is.
I'll put this out there up front: Baseball Mogul 2007 is not the type of game for those that don't enjoy numbers. It isn't for those types of players that just want to play the game and ignore all the front office stuff.
So, with that out of the way, I'll go into the game. When starting the game up, you'll instantly recognize names - and not just those from current players. You can choose to start a season in 1901 if you wanted. You could even create your own custom universe - ever wanted to see what would happen if Roger Clemens got a chance to pitch against Barry Bonds? The custom universe option will give you the chance to set up this and many other potential scenarios that would only happen in the realms of fantasy.
All of the player stats are provided via an exclusive license with the Sean Lahman baseball database. The database contains highly detailed information on almost everyone who has played baseball since 1901. Through this database, you'll have access to a very wide variety of stats - from home run totals to how well the batter can hit a knuckleball, it is all here.
Once you finally get your season started, you'll be presented with a calendar. This calendar will show all the upcoming games for your team in the next month and also give you a chance to look at future months. Of course, there is a lot more to do before you actually get to playing games.
There are a lot of options to fiddle with. For example, you can try to make more money by selling broadcast rights to a cable TV channel. You might make some fans upset, though. You can make the fans at the park happier, though, by lowering the beer prices - doing that, though, causes you to make less money off the beer sales. Maybe you can increase the ticket prices by a few bucks? Oh look, now more fans are upset!
These are all decisions that a general manager of a team will eventually have to face. Your big goal is to balance your team's need to make money with your need to attract new fans. Outside of fiddling with prices, you'll also have to take care of trades for new players, re-sign players that go to free agency and even release players that aren't playing well.
I really enjoyed the interface for signing new players. You won't just offer then a contract - negotiations are needed. Depending on a player's overall attitude and how happy he is with your team, he might be willing to drop his asking price a bit. You can try to offer lower than that, too - if the player is happy in your team's hometown or just likes some of the players, he'll agree to less money. Otherwise, he'll throw a counter offer your way.
What if the guy you want is on another team? Well, go out and trade for him - just don't try to rip the other team off. The trading of players is pretty intelligent. You won't be able to rip off other teams like you can in other games - they won't trade you a hot rookie with tons of potential for an old veteran who may be better now but is in a decline. This actual intelligence in trades pleased me and actually made me think hard about trading away a young player for someone to help my team win the World Series in the current year.
You'll also have to manage your team's multiple levels - you'll have to take care of the majors along with the minors. That hot rookie you just drafted or traded for likely won't be that great from the start but will have a lot of upside (baseball talk for potential to be a star). He might be ok - do you want to keep him up at the majors where he won't get much playtime but might be able to help your team out? Or, would you rather let him play daily in the minors and improve faster? All of these decisions are important to the development of young stars.
After you've taken care of all that, you can watch those players you've signed and developed actually play. There are two different modes here - general manager mode and play-by-play mode. In the first mode, you'll just watch the action as it unfolds. However, you can jump in at any time and switch to play-by-play mode - and this is one of the modes that really makes the game stand out.
Baseball has some moments where the tension really builds up. Play-by-play mode allows you to control your team's actions, down to each pitch thrown.
Imagine this: One out, Marcus Giles on first base with Chipper Jones up to bat. The pitcher looks over a couple of times, and the pitch - Giles is off as Chipper swings through the pitch! He's safe at second base. Now, the pitcher comes in with a 3-2 pitch and Chipper hits it into center field - it drops in! Giles is running hard and the third base coach gives him the sign to go home! The center fielder comes up throwing and guns the ball home - Giles is safe! The Braves win!
Situations like that allow you to try to get that run home in many ways - maybe you'd play for the run by sac bunting Giles over to second? You might just try to swing for the fences and hope for a home run. Then again, you could just get caught stealing second or hit into a double play. When playing play-by-play mode, all of these options and more are at your fingertips, giving you the chance to make the call in your team's big game.
There was also one small touch that really made me smile. At any point during the season, you can check out the news. Now, there've been newspapers in previous sports games, but the stories didn't feel natural. While it may just be a form for making a news story, Baseball Mogul 2007 puts forth an effort to make each story look like a real one, including a player's or team's current relevant stats. This really added to the overall experience and presentation for me.
This is probably the deepest baseball game I have ever played - the depth of the stats and things to manage are mind-boggling. I was definitely lost at first. After playing for awhile, though, I started to understand more of what was going on in the game. In the end, I feel that Baseball Mogul 2007 is the undisputed king of the baseball simulators - the game is truly complete. At $19.95, this game is an absolute steal. And for only 4.95 a month, you can play an online version of a dynasty and build a team up over many seasons.
If you find yourself fiddling with stats and rosters in console games more than you do actually playing the games, give Baseball Mogul 2007 a shot. You won't be disappointed. And it'll cost you less than a single game at your favorite ballpark.