Baseball Mogul 2011 Review (PC)
I swore that I would not mention OOTP 11 in my Baseball Mogul 2011 review. Mogul is not OOTP, so why bother comparing the two? Well, perhaps because they were released around the same time, or perhaps because I just could not help myself, I have already broken my pledge.
What you want out of your baseball text sim will likely shape your opinion of Baseball Mogul 2011. If you want a fun, simple, nuts and bolts simulation of baseball, you will enjoy Mogul. If you want complete customization, immersion and bells and whistles, Mogul is not for you (and you should probably check out OOTP 11 -- blast there I go again).
Baseball Mogul 2011 is a text sim that puts you in control of a modern-day, historical or fictional baseball franchise. Instead of manually controlling play on the field, you oversee the day-to-day operations of your club. This includes setting lineups, executing trades, signing free agents, drafting players and rocking the finances.
Many text sims have a steep learning curve or an intimidating interface that scares away potential newcomers and even frustrates longtime players. That is not the case with Mogul. The 2011 version of the game is just as easy to pick up and play as previous versions. Within seconds your league is created and you are making roster moves, setting lineups and adjusting your pitching staff. The accessibility and bare-bones nature are both the main strengths and weaknesses of Baseball Mogul 2011.
Playing out your team’s games is a blast with Mogul, thanks in large part to a graphical representation of what is happening on the field. Not all text simmers care one way or the other about graphics, but the flash graphics used in Mogul work well. Each game zooms by quickly, and you stay interested throughout mostly because of the graphical element.
However, no amount of graphics could cover up Mogul's weak free-agent system in previous versions. While free agency still has a ways to go, Mogul 2011 is an improvement. In the past, you could sign just about any free agent you wanted if you met his asking price. Now if you make an offer, the player may inform you that another team has made a better offer. At that point, you can choose to raise your offer or risk losing the player. The system is an improvement but still seems flawed. If you continue to match the offers from other teams, you can still sign any player you want. So free agency is improved, but it still feels empty.
Player development also was addressed in 2011. In past versions, player development was fairly predictable. Most players steadily progressed and reached a point near their potential -- whatever that might have been. Player development is more erratic in 2011, with sometimes dramatic fluctuations happening in the short and long term. How you feel about this depends on what type of game you like to play. If you are used to the more predictable development model in past versions of Mogul, the new player development (and often player regression) in 2011 might initially catch you by surprise.
Trade logic also received an upgrade in 2011. Teams that are out of contention will now look to move overpriced veterans for younger talent. Teams in the hunt will try to acquire one more hitter or pitcher to put them over the edge, which makes the game feel more realistic overall.
One area that was not touched but should have been was the financial area of the game, specifically where you set prices for tickets and concessions. This part of the game either needs to be improved or removed entirely. You basically have the option to set prices for tickets, food, drinks and ice cream. The entire concept feels incredibly outdated. How about options to add restaurants, bars or a variety of food stands to your stadium? What about installing an HD video board, a high-tech scoreboard or maybe building a monument to your team’s past stars? You could also get amenities for you team (like high-tech training facilities) to better prevent injuries. Setting your ice cream prices while staring at a cheesy graphic of an ice cream cone simply does not cut it and makes the game feel very amateurish.
However, that aspect of the game is, for the most part, easy to ignore. The overall gameplay in Mogul 2011 remains strong, and you will continue to see realistic results and believable statistics. The new player-development system and trade logic may frustrate some, but in my opinion, both made the game resemble real-world baseball in a more realistic fashion.
Since Mogul is a text sim, it should not be judged in the graphics department the same way we critique The Show or MLB 2K. Instead, Mogul should be judged on its menus and overall presentation. For the most part, Mogul is easy to navigate and minimal mouse clicking is required. I especially like how your team’s key injuries, top prospects and expiring contacts are listed at the bottom of almost every screen.
It would be nice if setting your lineups felt like less of a chore. How about a screen that displays each one of your lineups against LHP and RHP with or without a DH? This would cut down on mouse clicks and checking back and forth on different screens.
Also, the news stories and text interactions with agents and other general managers needs an overhaul. Too often, news stories read like they were written by an old lady who has to cover sports for the local weekly paper, and the dialogue among agents and other GMs sounds just plain bad. Again, this is not a major part of the game, but it is these types of little oversights that prevent a good game from becoming great.
Well, I managed to get through the bulk of the review without mentioning OOTP 11. However, I will mention it one more time. Baseball Mogul is like a more relaxed version of OOTP.
If you are not into spending hours customizing and adjusting your league’s every minute detail, then you will like Mogul. If you do not care about digging through columns of traditional and sabermetric statistics, then you will like Mogul. If you do not want to bother with feeder leagues, dynamic expansion or two-way players, then you will like Mogul. Heck, no matter how you feel about all of these things, you will probably like Mogul.
As long as you accept Mogul for what it is –- a fun, accurate and realistic pick up and play simulation of baseball –- there is no reason why cannot enjoy both Mogul and OOTP (OK, I swear that is the last time). However, if you want to be completely consumed by a baseball simulation, Mogul is not the game for you.
On the Field: Mogul is a fun, fast and realistic simulation of baseball. Just do not expect to be completely swept off your feet.
Graphics: The flash graphics add to the experience when playing out games. There are a few areas where menus could use a facelift, but overall the game is easy to navigate.
Sound Design: Sounds and text sims just do not mix. I suggest playing your iPod or listening to a ballgame when playing.
Entertainment Value: Mogul is a very fun game that is great for newcomers to baseball text sims or players looking for a simpler experience. Just do not expect to become completely immersed.
Learning Curve: The relatively simple learning curve is one of Mogul's strengths.
Online: There are several active online leagues. Just seek them out.
Score: 7.0 (Good)