GameLoft is bringing the full baseball experience to our iPhones. There has been other baseball games on the platform, but GameLoft’s entry is the most ambitious I have ever seen. Does that mean it’s the best? Well read the rest of the review to find out. (You thought I’d give it away in the opening paragraph? Where’s the suspense in that?)
Real Baseball brings a lot to table for the hardcore baseball fan, but the first thing you may notice is the lack of MLB teams. It would have been nice to able to play as real baseball teams but for me it didn’t ruin the game.
Now that we got the lack of real teams out of the way, let’s get to meat and potatoes. There are 4 modes of play in the game. The first of these is quick play, which as you may expect is just a quick game of baseball, no strings attached. (No pun intended.) The second is the season mode. If you play a lot of full console baseball game you may be disappointed by the lack of options to manage your team, but there are some. You can adjust your lineup and pitchers. Basic, but it’s enough to keep the casual fan satisfied, and the hardcore from being too bored. The next mode is playoff’s, which plays exactly like the season mode except that you are eliminated should you lose a game. The last mode is the homerun contest, which is basically a home run derby, and while it’s a nice addition, it really lacks the depth of a certain home run contest only game that’s out there. (Is it tacky to say the name of another game in a different games review? I’m going with yes so no names.) With all these modes there is something for everyone, whether you’re the kind of gamer who just wants a quick baseball fix or someone who wants the satisfaction of taking your team to the championship. They even have the ability to upload your best plays to youtube, which is a cool feature that has been popping up in games a lot more.
Modes aside, how does the game play? Well it’s very simple, and pretty effective. Starting with batting, you simply tap the screen when the ball is close enough to hit. You don’t have to worry about the placement of the ball in the strike zone; you just have to focus on timing. Once you get a runner on base a little map will appear near your batter. Before you swing you can tap the next base on the map to have your runner steal the base. I found that very few of my runners could successfully pull off a steal, which may be a balance issue that needs taking care of. I found myself using it more for hit and runs.
Once it’s time to take the field you are talked with playing as the pitcher. Pitching is a little more complicated that batting, but not overly so. To select a pitch you tap it on the virtual D-Pad. You will then see the strike zone on the screen and you have to tilt your device to line the ball up where you want it. Next a little meter will come up to determine how hard you will pitch it; the idea is to tap in the middle. After that the same type of meter comes up for accuracy, which is to see how close to your chosen location the ball will actually go. If the opposing batter makes contact with ball, most of the fielding is don’t automatically. The only part you do yourself is throw the ball to a certain base. You do this much like stealing, just tap the proper base on the mini map.
Sounds like a lot to take in, but fortunately there is a little tutorial when you play for the first time that takes you through exactly what you need to do to play the game.
Overall, the controls work well, I kind of wish you had a little more control over your guys in the field, but I could see how on the iPhone interface that would be tough, and it’s a concession I’m sure GameLoft wasn’t happy to make. I felt like the batting was a little hard to time and also a little hard to tell if the pitch was going to be a strike or not. Still, complaints aside, the game plays pretty well, and I think GameLoft did a good enough job.
The art team at GameLoft is still on top of their game, because the 3d engine in Real Baseball looks impressive. I played on a 3g iPhone, and the game ran silky smooth, as long as I remembered to restart my phone before I booted up the game. The crowd is kind of flat, but I don’t think the iPhone is capable of rendering a full baseball team as well as the crowd, so I will not knock them for it. Overall, Real Baseball is by far the best looking sports game I have played on my iPhone so far.
Audio in Real Baseball is also good, but not great. The constant murmur of the crowd got a little annoying after a while. However, when you crack a homerun, and get that nice bat sound, it makes me have to give a nod to the sound a little more.
Overall, Derek Jeter’s real baseball is a very solid baseball game, which gives a good amount of control over the game without being too much to handle on a touch screen. It has a couple of flaws, but it’s a very solid game, and worth picking up for anyone who appreciates the great American pastime.
Presentation & Graphics
The best looking sports game on the iPhone. The one thing that keeps it from being perfect is that the crowd does not look very good, they are more or less just flat colors.
The sound in the game is pretty good, but as you play the constant background sound of the crowd can become kind of annoying.
The controls are very solid and it’s a lot of fun to play. You don’t have complete control over everything that happens on the field, but it would be very hard to have complete control over everything that happens on a touch screen. The batting timing feels a little weird sometimes, but once you get used to it, it becomes second nature.
Game life is very relative in a game like this. I’m going assume that since you are interested in this game you like baseball, and if this is the case then there are plenty of modes in the game to keep you coming back for more. You can extend each game to a full 9 innings, so if you play 9 inning games in the season mode, that alone alone will take many hours.
Real Baseball is a very good baseball game, and if you are looking for a baseball experience that is more like a full console game, this is the one to get on you iPhone.