ESPN Major League Baseball 2K4 MLB for Sony PlayStation 2 (PS2)
Sega returns to the diamond with ESPN Major League Baseball. The core gameplay is designed to live up to Sega's earlier efforts in the field, while television-style presentation is added to the roster with a number of new, situation-specific camera angles, and Jon Miller and Karl Ravech behind the mic. As with the publisher's football and hockey franchises, the "2K" moniker has been dropped in favor of the fully licensed ESPN branding, but fans of Sega Sports' earlier World Series Baseball simulations will find the 2004 edition of their game here. Momentum is an important factor in this baseball game and each player has a meter that indicates if he's on a streak or in a slump. Players favored by momentum can perform extraordinary feats on the field, while those who are struggling may have more trouble making even basic plays. As in real-life, working out of a slump can require diligence, and perhaps a little luck. The Power Pitching system offers new pitches, speeds, and other options, while mound conferences, curtain calls, broken bats, and other new, away-from-the-play animations are included to help bring the simulation to life. ESPN Major League Baseball offers a number of game types, including an enhanced "General Manager" mode that holds gamers accountable to their team's virtual owners. Mismanagement can lead to firing, but crafty ownership decisions can attract the attention of other virtual teams, who may bid to hire the gamer away to work for them. In addition to all the active teams and players in the league (based on the 2003 season), gamers can work to achieve "MLB Milestones," which unlock Cooperstown players, vintage uniforms, and other extras. Bonus items are displayed in a virtual trophy room. Online play is supported for both inaugural versions of ESPN Major League Baseball. PS2 owners equipped with a network adaptor can find competition over the Internet, while Xbox gamers can log on through the Xbox Live service.