MLB Dugout Heroes Review: MMO Hits a Home Run



MLB Dugout Heroes Review: MMO Hits a Home Run
By Mitchell Daoust (Loric), OnRPG Journalist

When one hears the term, "MMO" a variety of different concepts come to mind. Magic, spells, swords, armor, adventures, and dragons are all aspects that one might think of. MLB Dugout Heroes by GamesCampus, however, is sure to give you a different take on the subject, as it presents a different view to the online game setting. By presenting a realistic version of the game of baseball mixed with various MMORPG elements, this game is sure to leave you entertained for hours on end.

Realism

This game is certainly a must-play for any baseball fan. The sense of the sport can be found everywhere, from the clever mouse-icon (shaped like a mitt) to the lively music and commentary. The strategy and plays are represented excellently, as the you soon get the feeling that you are coaching an actual team. Each Major League Baseball team is represented with a complete and accurate roster, so any adoring fan can easily get behind the wheel of their favorite team.

MLB Dugout Heroes Lineup
Join the Major League and create your own lineup

The strategy and cunning required for a real game of baseball is also put to the test here, as you'll find throughout this article.

Game play

The game does an excellent job of capturing the atmosphere of the sport. The player will find themselves reacting to pitches the same way a player would do so in real life, and the strategy behind pitching will also need to be well thought through. Pitching, however, is far easier than batting. Even the newest of players will be able to strikeout the most experienced batter, because understandably, it's more difficult to react to a pitch than it is to throw one.

When starting a new account/career, a tutorial on batting and pitching immediately meets the player and teaches them the basics of the game. This is a very helpful tool, which can help familiarize inexperienced players with the rules and methods of the sport. However, there are no tutorials for defense, such as running the bases or playing the field. Help in this area is displayed as pop-ups during game play, and they can be troublesome to focus on in the heat of the moment. Many rules and regulations of the sport also go unexplained, so the player may become frustrated if they are not adept in baseball.

MLB Dugout Heroes Highlight
A highlight from the game

Items are available for use during game play, offering an "RPG" sense to the atmosphere. While the concept is interesting and could play a large part in the role of the game, it feels a bit "tacked on." The player will often times be too focused on the pace of the current game to notice the level of their player's fatigue, and will not bother to use replenishing items, which honestly don't make a sizeable difference in the first place. The items also take away a portion of the realism surrounding the game, which is definitely a downside.

Also involved is a "mission" system, where characters have the option to try and complete several objectives during game play (for example, "steal three bases in one inning"). This feature is very entertaining, and will give even masters of the game a reason to come back for more.

The strategy which needs to be employed, is very realistic and convincing. One has to decide which base to throw to, which player to tag out, and when to have players steal bases or run. Control over the players is quite limited, however. When playing the field, one can only control where the ball is thrown, and when batting, the player can only control how fast the character runs, or which base the character runs to. Other than that, the computer controls every aspect of the game, and the computer rarely makes errors. This results in the game being based on luck, rather than skill or strategy.

MLB Dugout Heroes Gameplay
Only partial control when playing

The balance between "power hit" and "normal hit" when batting is also something that could be worked on. When batting, the player takes control of a circular area which they must use to track the location of the ball and swing. For a power-hit, the size of the circle is considerably reduced, therefore making the action much harder to accomplish. While this makes sense, there isn't much difference between a power hit and a casual hit. The end result means putting forth a lot of effort for little improvement, which is a bit discouraging.

Graphics

The character models are of excellent quality for a game that is free to download and play. They are fluid in their animations and believable in their representation on the field, and although they are a bit "cartoony," they are still impressive.Textures and detail of large areas, such as the grass on the field or the crowd in the stands, is a bit rough and could use work. This flaw is only noticed upon close inspection, however, and the game runs quite smoothly, so it is a possibility that this lack of detail is intentional.The developers of the game did an excellent job making the character models appear similar to their real life counterparts. The models are not perfect, which is of course understandable, but if one is familiar with real life players it is quite easy to pick out which model represents whom.

Summary

MLB Dugout Heroes is a free-to-play MMO that any adoring baseball fan should try. It offers realistic rosters, statistics, and game play to keep the MLB junkie fed during the off-season. While game play and control over the characters could use some work to allow more freedom to the player, the strategy and realism are more than enough to make up for it.

Pros:
- Realistic baseball game play
- Character models resemble players
- Refreshing change from fantasy MMOs
- Accurate rosters
- Excellent use of real life strategy.

Cons:
- Item system feels tacked on
- May confuse those unfamiliar with baseball
- No tutorial for fielding
- Limited control over characters
- Music is a bit repetitive.

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