Review: Ballistic Baseball
As a lapsed baseball fan, all I need is one good game to get back into the sport. I used to like realistic sim baseball — like MLB The Show — but I recently found joy in arcade baseball games, like Super Mega Baseball. This looks like it should satisfy my arcade baseball desire, but does it deliver, or will it strike out?
Controls and Presentation
Let's start off with the very little good there is to say about this one. For what you are able to do it, it controls well. The reason I word it like that is, all you do is pitch and bat.
No fielding or baserunning.
In an arcade game, not having to worry about those tasks should be a relief, but it’s not. We will get to that later.
Pitching is simple and effective. You select your pitch, place it where you want, and then stop the line in the green for your control. It's fun to catch the batter off guard with a well placed off speed pitch and strike them out. What’s not fun, is when you pitch perfectly to someone, and they hit a ball that's easily playable, and the terrible fielding AI takes over, but again more on that later.
Batting is the strongest part of this game. For the most part, your swings feel like they have weight behind them. Making contact is not hard, but making solid contact is hard and rewarding. There are some bugs, where you will swing and miss, the catcher will have the ball, and then a late animation occurs putting the ball into play.
This did not happen very often, and happened even less often after the most recent update.
Home Runs are a huge part of the sport. In this game, when you connect and hit a Home Run, the celebrations are great. There are a few different ones that are cycled, so they can get old quick, but it never gets old when you hit one and get to watch the celebrations.
The stadiums also look beautiful. The seats are filled, there are huge structures and advertisements; it seems like they put a lot of care into making them. The stadiums and the general presentation are just too good to be in this game. This game has a lot of problems.
There is a lack of modes in this game. Your only option is to play online (if it works), play a friend, or play the A.I.
In games against the A.I. or your friends, you can customize the length of the game, but online games (again if it wants to work) will be three inning games. There have been plenty of baseball games on mobile platforms with other game modes such as a season mode, and not all of them have been recent. One of my favorite ones was Baseball Superstars 2012 and that had a season with some story to it. That's 2012, this is 2019, so there is no excuse.
Following an update, the game added a career mode. It sounds better than it is.
Career mode is basically the same as play AI or play online, except you start with a really bad team, and have to play games to earn training points and level up your team. It takes a lot of games to level up and move up in divisions.
The online multiplayer is all kinds of broken at the time of writing this and continued to be an issue after the most recent update. When you select online play, you pick a team, and then hope you connect. The first few days the game was out, I was not able to successfully join a multiplayer game. You are treated with the below screenshot; all it says is connecting with no option to back out of the game. That means the only way to get out is by closing the app.
If you are lucky to get into a match, it will work perfectly and then lag, and repeat those steps. It was difficult to get into these matches, so at this point, I only played a handful, and just one match worked flawlessly from start to finish. After the game has been out for a little while — and received an update — the online continues to be an issue for me. It's still difficult to find a match, and when you do, a lot of them were very laggy for me, even on WiFi.
This is the biggest problem: the A.I. is an absolute garbage fire. I honestly question if the creators know how baseball is played with the decisions made. As I stated earlier, you are not able to field or run the bases, so you have to trust the game to do it for you.
A baseball scenario for you: a runner is at second base, and the ball is hit on the ground to the shortstop. What should happen? If you said, check the runner at second, then throw the batter out at first, you would be correct! What happens here is the shortstop fields the ball and throws it to second base, and the second basemen just holds the ball. Everybody’s safe! They make numerous bad decisions with where to throw the ball. A double play just doesn't seem possible.
The base running is no better. They take chances when they don't need to and then are careful when we need to go for it. There is no consistency to any of it. If you have a runner on third, with less than two outs, they will never tag up if you hit a long fly ball. None of the A.I. seems to work right. Either it was thrown together quickly, or the developers are just unfamiliar with the sport, but either way, it brings this game down even further.
The last update was supposed to address these concerns, and for the most part it did, but not fully. The frequency for these mistakes has declined but it's still present.
This game didn't even go down swinging, it got caught looking on an 0–2 count. With all the quality offered in Apple Arcade, this is a game I can't recommend you put your time into. A great presentation is not enough to save this one from a lack of game modes and terrible A.I. This one gets two thumbs down. Don't even bother with this one.
Final Score — 3/10 —
For more reviews, be sure to check out my thoughts on Call of Duty: Warzoneand Neo Cab, plus I was responsible for this month’s Retro Review, where I reminisced about Super Mario Brothers 3. As always, check us out on Twitter @TheSpinchoon and I’m @Big_Broons.