Genre: Sports Management Sim
Publisher: Enlight Software
Developer: Sports Mogul
Release Date: April 11, 2006
If you are a die-hard fantasy baseball fan who spends hours poring over statistics, then Baseball Mogul 2007 is for you. If you're just a casual sports fan and reading about ERAs, IPs, HRs, and Es is too much alphabet soup for your taste, then you might want to approach this title with caution.
At its core, BM 2007 has a fairly simple premise. Taking control of your favorite baseball team (and, for the first time, historical teams), you are the general manager in charge of building it from the ground up. Unlike the MLBs of the world, BM 2007 is not about quick fingers, but intelligent strategy. Whom will you draft once the season's over? Is your favorite player progressing as quickly as you would like? Is your pitcher going to bounce back from that irritating toe injury to be who he once was? These are questions you must ask yourself while designing the perfect team to bring you the pennant.
What is great about BM 2007 is that it's as simple or complicated as you would like it to be. If you're like me, you want to mull over every single statistic and think about what's going to happen in a given situation, all that information is there. Using the Internet, the game is also updated to mirror what is going on in the real world of baseball, with every player tracked and statistics recorded. At the same time, it is just as easy for a casual fan to pick up the game and set it up to show simple stats, set the difficulty level to "easy," and still enjoy the experience. However, there is still a learning curve for those who know nothing about the game of baseball, and Baseball Mogul does not help with this.
The game is broken down into individual games played, and while you're between games, you have a host of options available to you. For anyone familiar with fantasy baseball, the choices are nothing new – you can trade, look at current stats, change your lineups, sign free agents, and get ready for your next game. Of course, a general manager does more than player negotiation, so the game offers more depth to make the team your own. From ticket prices and merchandise sales to budgeting and broadcast style, you can choose any number of ways to make (or lose, if your team is not performing well) money. As the team's wins increase, so does your cash, which gives you a bigger budget and the ability to attract marquee players.
Players are obviously the most important part of any baseball team, and each has his own personality and chemistry. Therefore, the now-expanded negotiation process makes signing some players more difficult than others, as each has a feeling about his own worth, along with his feelings about the team. Some players want money, while others will take a pay cut for the team, allowing a bit more ease in negotiation. This dynamic makes the individual players come alive, as you gauge their responses to determine if they can hurt or help the team. Will they step up and play outfield or be unhappy with not playing shortstop anymore?
Like any game, players have individual stats for their positions as well as overall stats, but there is also a peak performance your player can reach. With the right coaching and playing time, players can improve over time, moving from a nobody like Chris Woodward to a big-time star like Carlos Delgado. As a nice little addition to BM 2007, players (especially pitchers) in the preseason can teach others. For instance, closer Billy Wagner taught the slider to another player on the team. Rewards for having veteran players on your team do not exist in the MLB, and while it's not exactly a vital feature, it's definitely a nice touch.
There are a few other neat features in BM 2007 that bear mentioning. A newspaper exists, where you can read all about your season, including trades and statistics of key players. You can also read about league leaders, team finances, standings, and league transactions. As previously mentioned, historical teams are available, which allows you to simulate any match-up you can think of. In the same vein of fantasy baseball, you can also hold a fantasy draft to make the team of your dreams, and you can even build a new stadium to go along with the team. All of these things are standard in most games, but in a title such as Baseball Mogul, they help immerse you in the gameplay that much more.
Baseball Mogul doesn't offer a whole lot in the graphics department, since the interface consists of background images and plenty of text. There is an option to play individual games, which is the closest you'll come to actually "playing" a game in the title. Here, you can decide to be a general manager and just watch the players pitch and hit, or you can take control as manager and tell your player where to hit on offense and what type of pitch to expect, based on the pitcher's previous pitches. A map is shown, detailing where individual pitches have gone for the current batter, which gives you a more detailed idea of where the pitcher might go.
For instance, some pitchers can be easily figured out, giving you a shot at a homerun, while others prove to be difficult, forcing you to really think about where a pitch might be heading. On the flipside, you can choose what kind of pitch your pitcher will toss, along with where you want it to go. The whole thing looks rather simplistic, and although strategy can bring you a win, I would rather skip the entire thing. The graphics in this mode are a letdown, with players on both sides looking identical. This should not bother anyone who is playing this game purely for the fantasy aspect, as its graphics are not the top priority, but any graphics snobs will be thoroughly disappointed, since BM 2007 looks like something straight out of 1996.
Adding more replay value is the ability to join an online league, featuring all the stats and aspects of the game, but updated more frequently. This multiplayer aspect is just as fun as the single-player mode, and for those in paying leagues, you might try to get your friends into Baseball Mogul, because it really is that good from a stat perspective.
Although Baseball Mogul 2007 has simplistic graphics and a lot of numbers, it's the kind of game that can show you why people have fallen in love with fantasy sports in recent years. It can be a valuable tool for anyone in a league, and more importantly, for anyone who loves the game of baseball.
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