After giving the fans two great games in the past, Metalhead Software had their work cut out for them when they were set to release Super Mega Baseball 3, which was made available earlier this month. Could they improve the series that gives us a more arcade look at baseball? Let's find out.
You won't find licensed teams, players or even gear in Super Mega Baseball 3, but with the customisation options Metalhead Software is providing, I don't even think about that while playing the game. This is definitely an arcade experience, and it shows from the very beginning. Don't get me wrong, as it's definitely not a bad thing. In fact, it's quite the opposite and very enjoyable.
I have played a fair amount of MLB The Show over the years, games that are leaning more towards simulating the sport of baseball, and I would be lying if I said it hasn't frustrated me more than once. With the cartoon characters, the silly celebrations and unrealistic jumps I have a harder time complaining about a perfectly hit ball popping up at the end of the innings. This makes the game a lot more enjoyable, and the feeling of rage I sometimes get from other sports games is almost completely gone. Even when I strike out I'm able to laugh at the fact that our batter turns to break his or her bat in a million pieces over their knee.
Arcade games are supposed to be fun, but even if Super Mega Baseball 3 is a lot of fun, I do expect a certain amount of realism when it comes to ball-striking and fielding. At times it seems easier to hit a home run out of the dirt than from a pitch down the middle which can be frustrating at times, but for the most part, the ball will fly if you get under it with your swing, and it will end up on the ground if you get over it - the basic rules of physics, in other words.
In terms of content, there's a brand-new franchise mode in this edition of the game, and it has more depth than we are used to seeing in games such as this. Even though some aspects of the franchise mode aren't simulation-style like the lack of multiyear contracts, we're still treated to ageing, player growth and free agency like we see in most sports games. This greatly expands the longevity of the game which could be a problem in the former versions for those not playing online. Now we are able to play season after season in franchise mode and still enjoy the excitement of getting new players to grow.
We visited the customisation part briefly earlier in this review, but it really is worthy of a deeper dive into. Not only are we able to create our own teams, but we are also able to customise the current standard teams used in the game. There are limitations to the latter of course as we can't edit attributes, handedness and such, but everything cosmetic is possible to make your own. This being the team name, logo, jerseys or even the players themselves. Basically, the only thing missing in Super Mega Baseball 3 is the ability to create your own ballpark, but with the level of development this game has seen from year to year so far, we won't be surprised if this is something coming in the near future, maybe in Super Mega Baseball 4?!
Personally, I am more of an online gamer than anything. Playing against other humans makes things more unpredictable no matter the game, and that keeps most games more interesting, at least in our humble opinion. Metalhead has done great things to make this part of the game more enjoyable too. The Pennant Race mode gives us exactly what I want in online play in terms of playing against others with the same skill level. The goal is to get the best record as possible during a set period of time, and after a few initial games to set the skill level, I always faced opponents somewhat equal to my abilities, which makes the game even more fun. Blowout wins are almost as boring as blowout losses, so having even games is definitely the best option. And if one was to get bored of this mode, there are still a lot of customisation available for setting up online leagues with friends.
Metalhead has upped their game both in the graphics and sound department for this game. The game looks really smooth, and the sounds of the ball hitting the bat is accurate, but still has a touch of an arcade feel to it. One of the most important things with a baseball game is that it flows well as timing when batting is crucial, and this is not an issue with the game at all. Even in online matches versus players across the pond we have full control of our batters timing.
To summarise, Super Mega Baseball 3 is a very enjoyable game which I will no doubt spend tons of time playing, and it's also a great upgrade over the previous iteration. If you have a decent gaming computer I would recommend getting it for that system, as our PlayStation 4 Pro with an SSD inside still gave us loading times worthy of a lunch break. That said, the gameplay itself feels the same on both systems, so if you don't mind waiting a bit you're all set.
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