9 Innings Pro Baseball returns with another iOS baseball simulator. Is it a home-run?
There are plenty of sports games available on iOS. However, most of them are very arcadey. Finding a true simulation for your favorite sport is hard to come by on the platform. Only football (soccer), baseball and golf are well represented. The leaders in the baseball simulation genre are most definitely the 9 Innings series, and they are back with their 2013 edition with all kinds of changes.
There is plenty to do in 9 Innings Pro Baseball 2013. The mode where you will probably spend most of your time is the league mode. This allows you to play through an entire season of baseball and build your team all the way to the championship. You can choose to play an entire season of baseball, or trim it down, depending on your level of commitment.
Once in league mode, you can choose to play out each game, or simulate them as you go along. Should you choose to play, you can choose to play just offense, just defense, or both. If you choose one of the other, the game will simulate the remaining part of the game based on the skill level of your players.
At the start of a league, you choose some challenges for your team. The harder the challenges the more they are worth. This provides an interesting risk/reward factor. If you choose too easy, you are missing out on some potential points. Should you choose to challenging, you might end up with a whole lot of nothing.
As you play through the league mode, you unlock cards that will help improve your team. You can also trade these cards with other players. This adds a fun layer of depth to the game that will keep hardcore players coming back for more.
Speaking of teams, there are no MLB teams in the game, but there are over 1400 real players included. They have a license from the MLB Players Association, but not the MLB itself. They still have the city names associated with the correct players. For example, Derek Jeter is on a New York team, it’s just not called the Yankees.
The controls are rather simple, but they get the job done. To hit the ball you simply tap the screen when the pitch comes in. You do not need to aim your swing at the ball. All you need to worry about is timing. You can tap the smaller swing buttons to bunt the ball if you need to.
For defense, you have some control, but not the same level you would get from a console baseball game. Your players will run and field the ball automatically. You do have to control in which base they throw the ball to get the other teams base runners.
Hidden away in the settings is the option to increase the amount of control you have over your players in the field. These options make the game tougher, but do not work overly well.
You have a good amount of control over your pitcher. You select the pitch he will throw by simply tapping on it. You choose where the pitch will go by sliding your finger to the location. You can also throw the ball to one of the bases to get the runner who may steal. This is done by tapping the base runner’s picture on the screen.
I rather wish they gave you a little more control over your swings. Once you get the timing down, it is quite easy to get a hit at will. You can steal bases, which helps give you a little more to do, but not having to aim at the ball while swinging makes it feel like things are out of my hand a little too much.
For defense, it feels a little unbalanced. The other team’s players seem to make diving and jumping catches all the time, and my players never even attempted a dive. This makes it feel a little unfair when I hit what should be a double and their person dives and catches it.
Visually, the game looks somewhat old. They tout their incredible visuals in the apps description, but I am just not seeing it. When compared to a low-budget game it looks good, but compared to other sports games such as FIFA and Madden, it looks atrocious. It is not the worst looking game I have ever seen when everything is standing still, but once things get in motion it looks quite dated.
The sound is pretty good. There really is not much for me to say in that regard. It’s nothing special, but it gets the job done.
Overall, this game features plenty of modes and a huge card collection component to keep you coming back. If you really love the game, it should keep you busy for a long, long time. However, I just did not find the baseball action to be that fun. It is not a bad game, but it lacks the polish I was expecting. Still there is a free, ad-supported version that is worth checking out if you think it might be for you.
9 Innings Pro Baseball 2013 is available now for free. Get it on the App Store.