App Reviewed on: iPad 2
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It is that magical time of the year when everybody is looking forward to baseball season, or as non-fans refer to it, “watching paint dry, with baseballs.” Never has there been a game that fit the second description better than Com2uS’ annual 9 Innings Pro Baseball series. Oddly enough, that isn’t necessarily a necessarily a complaint, either.
Baseball is an inherently boring sport. Even fans are willing to admit that. Essentially it is a chess match that plays out in middle of a glorified meadow, featuring big sticks and athletes with even bigger biceps. Everything comes down to playing the numbers correctly, which lends itself well to an interactive trading card game. Fortunately that plays directly into 9 Innings Pro Baseball: 2013’s hand perfectly.
This light sports sim revolves around collecting licensed MLB players from “packs” and then tactfully inserting them into the starting lineup in the most advantageous ways. Then, unlike other sports trading card games, (looking at you, Big Win Football) players actually get the chance to act out games in a limited capacity. Upon completion of a game, the money earned can be once again cashed in for new player packs; thusly starting the vicious cycle all over again. The process of constantly trying to acquire that next lineup upgrade can be addictive to say the very least.
If you are looking for an authentic diamond experience, look away now, because things are going to get ugly. In this case the “ugly” is actually referring to the lackluster presentation and gameplay on the field. Each heavily pixelated character models looks like the player trying to watch a sporting event through smudged safety glasses. Animations that consist of eight to ten frames at most don’t do much to dissuade from this opinion either. Gameplay elements are certainly aimed at the more casual audience and consist of two button-press pitching and single button batting, with auto-fielding by default. Considering that the title actually allows players to turn off playing through actual the games, it somewhat speaks volumes for where the bulk of the effort went in the development process.
As far as a card collecting/sports sim, there are certainly worse ways to spend a rainy afternoon. 9 Innings Pro Baseball: 2013 may not be the best in any relative category, but when you are competent in all areas, while still costing nothing, it certainly works in your favor. It may not be stealing home anytime soon, but when you can get this much gameplay for free, it is hard not to feel like you are robbing the publisher blind.
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