Before Jamdat bought Hexacto, my few sources of baseball on handhelds came from a Hexacto title called Baseball Addict. What was lacking in that game was the official MLB license for the teams and the players. What a difference this makes in MLB 2004 where not only can you play your favorite team but your favorite players are represented too. Downloadable rosters also keep the statistics up to date.
MLB 2004 features three gameplay modes: quick play, exhibition and series. The first option will likely be the most popular. It lets you pit two teams together without the hassle of playing the full nine innings. Whoever has the most score after three innings is the winner. Exhibition takes you through a full nine inning game. Teams and location can be chosen. Series mode extends the match up into a best of three, five or seven series.
One of the nice features of MLB 2004 is its ability to let you save a game. Once you leave the game on your phone, you can return to the last half inning and resume progress from there.
However, I found the lack of a season mode to be a downer. Sure, the cell phone is not where you would want to conduct franchise and dynasty play. But at the very least, it would have been nice to download the season schedule and play the games set out there. Or, if possible, play the currently scheduled game in the 2004 season.
Another thing that is lost without a deep season mode is the feel of the players. They’re great for a few innings but repeated play day in and day out, you’ll realize that the players lack dimension. While people have distinct ratings approximated from their real life attributes, they are too close to the attributes. Fast people are always fast. Powerful people are always powerful. This makes play one dimensional. A greater sense of chance would make the game less statistical like.
MLB 2004 suffers from some faults but the MLB label is too much to pass up on. Somehow, playing with fictitious teams just doesn’t feel the same. Even if it is like how it was done before, by spoofing the player’s names: Barry Ponds anyone? If next year Jamdat’s MLB title aspires to be more an arcade game, they should put in mini-games like homerun derbies to make up for the lack of depth. Otherwise, there is still room for improvement for MLB 2005.