MLB Slugfest Loaded Review


If you’re one of those gamers who like their baseball games to be serious sims meticulously modeled on after the real world sport, then you can stop reading now as MLB SlugFest: Loaded is not for you. If however you cringe at the thought of spending two hours on the couch locked in a 0-0 pitcher’s duel, if you love racking up the runs as you knock the ball around the park, or if you look back fondly to the days when sports games were all about arcade excitement instead of number crunching sims, then you’ll probably love Slugfest Loaded. Slugfest Loaded is unabashedly over the top in its approach to the game, but underneath all of the crazy action, hijinks, and humor is a game that is easy to play and control and a lot of fun to at that.

Slugfest Loaded differs from other baseball games in several ways. The first is with the addition of a turbo meter. By pulling the right trigger during play you can draw power from the turbo meter to boost the current player’s stats and increase your chances for a great play. On offense this can be used to put a little more pop in your hitter’s bat or add a little extra speed around the basepaths. On defense, turbo can add heat to a fastball, help a shortstop make a diving stop off a ball going up the middle, or help an outfielder gun a runner down at the plate. Each time you use the turbo button you drain the meter and you replenish the meter by making good plays at the plate or in the field. You’ll never have enough turbo power to run on turbo for an entire inning, but you’ll usually have enough so that it is there when you need it. If you manage to completely drain it at the end of an inning it is not a disaster as the meters are refilled for both sides between innings.

Screenshots
Sosa on fire.

Pitchers have another meter of their own which consists of five stars. Each time a pitcher records a strike by making the batter whiff another star in the meter is filled. When all five stars have been filled, the pitcher can throw a special pitch – and this is no ordinary special pitch. Each pitcher has one special pitch in his repertoire that will make the ball zig-zag, corkscrew, make a huge arcing loop, or other things that defy the laws of physics in our universe. With patience and the right timing a batter can still hit one of these pitches, but this is no easy task.

When one of these special pitches is not available you can select from one of eight pitches – four are your basic pitches of fastball, curveball, slider, and change up, while the other four are more fanciful, juiced-up versions of these four designed to be thrown with a dash of turbo. Once you select your pitch, you select from one of nine pitch locations that form a three by three grid across the strike zone. Your next decision is whether to place the ball inside the strike zone or right next to the pitch location but outside of the strike zone. You also have the option to bean the batter which is a good way to cool off an opposing player who is on fire.

Pitching in Slugfest Loaded is just as simple and easy as it sounds; the game is not designed to give you the chance to become a strikeout king. Slugfest Loaded is all about getting hits and scoring runs and it is easy to do both in the game. While strikeouts certainly do occur, for the most part it is easy to make contact with the ball and at least put it into play.

Slugfest does not just derive its name from the fact that it is a high scoring game – players are encouraged to slug it out with each other on the basepaths. Baserunners can punch fielders or take them out with hard slides to force them to drop the ball or bungle the play. Fielders can fight back by stiff-arming runners down to the ground. There aren’t free-for-all brawls in the game, but the hits do add an extra level of excitement. You no longer just have to sit and wait for the play to end as a player trots into second with an easy double. The runner can now nail the baseman as the ball comes in from the outfield and take an extra base or the fielder can knock the runner down and leisurely apply the tag later.

Players that string a couple of hits together catch fire … literally. Flames will surround their hands and feet and they’ll enjoy a big boost to their stats. To counter this boost pitchers can throw a bean ball which can put a player’s fire out or simply knock down his stats for a bit. Pitchers who rely on the ol‘ bean ball run the risk of the batter charging the mound. The fight takes place off screen as you watch players’ reactions to the fisticuffs, which was probably a requirement of Major League Baseball in order to get the license for the game. While you have no control over the fight, the loser suffers the indignation of a stats decrease.