- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 20, 2003

There are abominations, and then there are abominations. But it's hard to find an abomination of an abomination like MLB Slugfest 20-04. For the second year in a row, Midway took a sport that had little trouble making itself look ridiculous and somehow made it even more of a farce.
For those unfamiliar with Midway's sports titles, the company caters to fans who, for instance, go to hockey games just for the fights. Those same fans will try Slugfest just to give a forearm shiver to the player covering second base.
When Midway announced the first edition of this circus act last year, it brought chuckles from most of the office, mostly because of its inappropriateness. The 2004 edition is no different, accentuating almost everything negative about a sport in disrepair.
For instance, the players look and play like steroid-fueled maniacs. Most of them make Barry Bonds look small, and Bonds himself looks like a literal Giant. Even uglier: Not only do you get a button just to throw beanballs, but you are encouraged to throw them to hurt players on the other team. About the only thing you can't find are coaches or umpires, which might be the only reason crazy fans don't rush out of the stands to pummel them.
At least Slugfest doesn't even pretend to approach reality. Players can get so "in the zone" that flames appear from their appendages. Pitchers can fill a meter to earn special pitches that corkscrew at 125 mph. Outfielders sling the ball as if shooting it out of a gun but no worry: Baserunners can disrupt the tag by punching or kicking the ball from fielders' gloves, and fielders can counter with a hard tag to the face.
As you might expect, this game isn't for statheads either. League leaders are tracked in a handful of categories, but how can any baseball game, simulation or joke, not record pitchers' losses? Plus, seasons last 52 games, a number that seems more random than anything else. Teams have truncated rosters, with only three or so position players available on the bench. Worst of all, Slugfest defaults to a seven-inning game. (At least there are no ties.) It borders on stupid.
On the positive side, the game actually plays well. Like most baseball games, the interface allows you to choose pitch and swing types. On offense, you have only the basic swings contact, power and bunt and on defense hurlers like Roger Clemens can deliver as many as five types of pitches, plus the insidious beanball. Even better, hitting isn't ridiculously difficult; you don't have to swing at an area of the plate to make contact, but picking the right spot will give you a better chance to succeed. The average gamer will pick up the controls in no time.
Of course, that assumes the average gamer wants to put time into MLB Slugfest 2004. If baseball officials were smart, which clearly they're not, they would take a second look at this game and realize baseball already has done enough harm to itself in the last few years without the help of an atrocity like this.

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