Jul 11, 2014
There is nothing more exciting in baseball than the home run â€” the crack of the bat echoing through the stadium, the crowd roaring as the hitter rounds the bases, and the high fives and handshakes in the dugout. There is nothing like watching the best hitters in the world smash baseballs as far as they can. That is why MLBâ€™s annual Home Run Derby exists. For those of us who will never get to experience what itâ€™s like to hit a homer in a major league stadium, there is MLB.com Home Run Derby Presented by Ford for Android.
MLB Advanced Media recently released a massive update to MLB.com Home Run Derby that adds new game modes to the mobile home run contest and features 2014â€™s new home run derby rules. The update also includes the players selected to participate in the 2014 Home Run Derby and Target Field, where All-Star festivities will take place.
For those just jumping into the game with the update, it is exactly what youâ€™d expectâ€”players select an MLB star and try to hit as many bombs as possible. There are two control schemes; one in which players hold down on the screen to move their batterâ€™s contact point and let go to swing, and one in which gamers tap the screen to swing. While the holding option seems to be easier, the tap-to-swing controls donâ€™t currently work. Gamers will find themselves frantically tapping the screen while their hitter watches pitches go by. An update will likely fix this, but controls are broken for now.
The game is broken down into three game modes: arcade mode, single player and multiplayer. Arcade mode is the quickest game and easiest way to rack up in-game currency. Single player and multiplayer derby modes offer a more competitive experience, but each will cost players one ticket to enter.
Tickets, MLB Bucks and coins are the gameâ€™s currency. They can be used to unlock new players and stadiums, and upgrade bats and power-ups. An in-game store also sells bundles of currency, which is severely overpriced but almost necessary to acquire some upgrades.
Graphics are surprisingly realistic. Player models are accurate recreations of MLB stars, right down to the batting stances. While players are console quality, crowd models are far from it. However, crowd reactions and in-stadium announcer voices are responsive and entertaining. From the moment the ball hits the bat, the sound adds to the ambiance, creating a great baseball experience.
The downside of Home Run Derbyâ€™s graphical prowess is the loading times players will have to wait before actually jumping into a game. Part of the mobile experience of video games is being able to pick up and play at any time. Long wait times hinder the gameâ€™s portability and make it less accessible for players with less time.
MLB.com Home Run Derbyâ€™s update brings the title from a cheap money grab by MLB to a full-fledged mobile title. With realistic graphics and new game modes, baseball fans will have little to complain about. However, microtransactions hurt the gameâ€™s replay value, and players probably wonâ€™t find themselves playing beyond this yearâ€™s All-Star break.