WGT Baseball: MLB swings for the fences, but is it fair?
It’s Spring! That time of year when a young man’s fancy turns to love. Unless they’re already spoken for, in which case it turns to baseball. As it is with every Spring, a number of baseball games get released on many different platforms, websites, and App Stores. Facebook is not excluded from this, as WGT Baseball: MLB gives you a chance to get in touch with your inner Brad-Pitt-in-Moneyball …assuming you have one.
The main idea behind WGT Baseball: MLB is to let you build your very own baseball franchise from the ground up. By playing mini-games throughout the season, you earn money and fans. The more money and fans you earn, the better players, stadiums, and uniforms you can get. You start by picking your team in one of two ways: picking from a list of computer-generated bots, or picking from your friends list. Once you have decided who it is that you want on your team, you assign positions to each player and then start turning your newly acquired bunch o’ bums into a well-oiled, baseball machine!
Training is pretty standard for a roster-based game, as you just pick which attribute (Batting, Fielding, Pitching, and General) you wish to improve on each player and pay fictional money to whip them into shape. However, WGT Baseball: MLB demands that you manage your team off the field as well. You need to keep your finances in check while keeping your players signed, or picking up free agents to take the place of the prima donnas you can no longer afford.
On the field, there are two basic games to play: Home Run Derby and Single Inning. In both, you only play on offense using a very simple batting interface the has you guess where you think the pitcher is going to pitch the ball. If you guess right, you make contact. If you don’t, you look like a drunk battling a pinata.
Homerun Derby pits the two teams together in a contest to hit the most home runs. Each of the nine players in your line-up get one pitch at which to swing. Home runs score; everything else doesn’t. In the Single Inning game you try to score as many runs as possible in one inning of baseball. You can either play the Single Inning games as exhibition games against your friends or as part of a Mini-Season, in which you are set up in a division against a group of randomly selected users. At the end of each game, any of your players that have done something noteworthy (scoring a run, batting in a run, etc.), get an extra skill point added on to their attributes.
At first, WGT Baseball: MLB is light and fun. Using your Facebook friends list to pick your roster gives it a bit of a boost, making it a little more personal. There’s always something a little more fun about watching “your friends,” play in games like these. The hitting interface is not difficult at all and is something that just about anybody can find fun. Getting to personalize your team with the training mode is a nice touch, so you can ensure your players are proficient in other areas besides hitting. The music and sound effects definitely add a lot of atmosphere to the game as well. The fun, however, seems to fade after a couple of days.
The biggest problem with WGT Baseball: MLB, is the fact that anyone who is interested in the minutiae of things like contract and salary management will also want to have more control over what’s happening on the field. On the other side of the coin, the people that enjoy the basic gameplay and training process won’t enjoy the financial intricacies.
The “collection” aspect of the game is rather shallow as well. First, the only uniforms you can acquire are all modern. As any baseball game veteran will tell you, the collection of classic uniforms of the past always make a game more fun. The same could be said for the roster of Major League Free Agents you can acquire. I like to think I know a fair bit about baseball and some of the names on there were not exactly household names when they were playing. At no point is anybody going to be really jazzed about purchasing the contract of Joe McEwing (no disrespect to Mr. McEwing as he was a sturdy player for the St. Louis Cardinals back in the day).
Lastly in the Mini-Season standings, along with every team’s record, there is a heading for “Tactics,” under which you can only find the statistics for each team’s players instead of whatever strategies, that team might put into play (i.e. are the team’s stats weighted more towards offense or defense).
WGT Baseball: MLB is a decent attempt at a leisurely baseball game. In the short-run it is a fair bit of fun that can be picked up by even the least-dedicated of baseball fans. However, given that it attempts to allow players to take over the more financial side of what goes on in the inner-workings of a baseball franchise, it doesn’t give the player enough control over what happens on the field, leaving the player with a somewhat empty gaming experience. Since the game doesn’t focus on enough on either aspect, WGT Baseball: MLB isn’t really a hit. It’s more of a foul tip.