Feature Article
Greatest Sports Game Ever: MVP Baseball 2005

One of the most frustrating things with monopolies is that they stifle competition and make the licence-holder complacent. This has definitely happened in the sports videogame space, as EA's grip on the lucrative NFL licence since 2004 has removed the successful and critically lauded 2K Sports football titles from the marketplace, and 2K Sports' retaliatory salvo of claiming the MLB licence has removed several competitors in that space as well (thankfully, not MLB: The Show). Unfortunately, one of these MLB casualties was a very, very good baseball simulation that had great features and memorable gameplay — MVP Baseball 2005.

Why Was It Awesome?

The best thing about MVP '05, in my mind, was the “Hitter's Eye” interface for pitching and batting. It provided the perfect amount of feedback when at the plate, and it created an accurate representation of identifying pitches on the way in, something that I think has been lost in the 2K baseball series as well as MLB: The Show. In a way, the “Hitter's Eye” worked much like the color-coded shots in Rockstar Table Tennis, as you were able to quickly identify the spin and curve of the ball as it left the pitcher's hand, giving you valuable feedback on how much the ball would break. It was also very cool to see this reflected in the different wind-ups of various pitchers, with some hurlers having the pitch telegraphed a bit more if they didn't cover up the ball with their glove. Games like MLB: The Show still offer a good experience at the dish, with pitch and zone guessing, but often pitches are so fast it can be a challenge to accurately anticipate what's coming at you.

This feedback of the “Hitter's Eye” might have spoiled the realism of the game to a slight degree, but what sports game doesn't use some sort of enhanced reality at this point (highlighted pucks, player indicators, subtle flashes, waypoint arrows, etc.)? To me, the little flash of color on the ball gave the hitter just enough feedback to evaluate the pitch before it arrived, creating a more realistic amount of checked swings, foul-offs and accurate ball-strike counts. Also, if a mistake pitch was left out over the zone and highlighted, you could then really lock in on a pitch if you saw a shimmer of red (fastball).

There was also a great realism to how MVP '05 moved. Although I do think the game could've used a tiny bit more infield play, it still looked amazing when it did happen. The fluidity of the animations on the fielders when turning a double play was truly eerie, and the speed of the runners and slide animations all looked miles ahead of the competition at the time. Even the throwing mechanic for the game, where you could overthrow at your own peril, looked and acted believably, creating a reasonable amount of overthrows and low throws when you tried to push it.

Of course, all of this says nothing of the great suite of modes that the game had, including an incredibly in-depth 120 season dynasty mode, an even more daunting owner mode (that allowed for concession management, staff hiring and firing, pricing, etc.), as well as some of the best online play that baseball games have ever seen. It truly is amazing to me that MVP '05 over Xbox Live still stands out as the smoothest and most functional online mode in videogame baseball. MLB: The Show has tried to get it right for about five years now, and still their online offerings, while including some decent community and challenge content, struggle with connectivity and latency. MVP '05 got this right seven years ago.

How Could It Be Awesome Today?

The MVP series could definitely come back and be a force in simulation baseball, as it was definitely the standard bearer of the mid-2000s. Even though MLB: The Show has hit full stride with the quality product it releases each year, I think there is some space for a competitor to improve upon the online experience as well as the pitching and batting.

It's no coincidence that Ben Brinkman, the guy who helped bring the MVP to prominence, was brought in to help buoy 2K's flagging baseball offering back around 2007. I believe he has other employment in the games industry these days, but if [I[MVP[/i] comes back, they need to bring him into a room and show him a Venn diagram with the words “Hitter's Eye” and “Baseball” and “Awesome” overlapping each other.

The online space for the game could mirror some of the positive strides EA has made in other titles, like FIFA and NHL, and add some fun online league support as well as a stable online experience. Next to tennis, baseball is the one sport that requires absolute precision and timing when played, and that has been lacking in contemporary baseball titles when played online. Hopefully MVP gets the chance to come back and make its mark once again.

Will It Return?

It's certainly possible that the MVP franchise could return, especially with 2K Sports losing its grasp on the licence monopoly for baseball after 2012. Having a stranglehold on the baseball videogame space is costing 2K Sports millions of dollars at this point, and they'd likely welcome some competition to make customers actually care about differentiating features and the like. EA Sports would very likely resurrect the MVP brand, as it's a name that carried weight — and still does — with many people.

Member Comments
# 1 EnigmaNemesis @ 04/09/12 02:23 PM
Nostalgia is a hell of a thing.
# 2 bigdoc85 @ 04/09/12 03:26 PM
EnigmaNemesis -- great comment. I think MVP 05 is a great game but I'll still take MLB 12 The Show. On the PS2, I actually prefer MVP 07 NCAA Baseball over MVP 05. But on the original XBox with component video, MVP 05 is really good.
# 3 chi_hawks @ 04/09/12 03:28 PM
I loved this game. Maybe its just me, but I felt like I could get through a full 9 inning game a lot faster in MVP05 than I can The Show. I remember being able to get through almost a dozen games or so when pulling an all nighter.

That said, I think the Show blows this game out of the water now. Not to say it couldn't use some competition down the road though.
# 4 scottborasjr @ 04/09/12 06:31 PM
MVP 05 was the last time I actually played an entire season and playoffs on a baseball game. I agree Chi_hawks, although I wasn't playing all nighters, I was getting up before the future wife would get up and finish as many games as I could and I seem to remember getting through full offensive games in less then a hour and pitching gems in 25-35 minutes.
# 5 queensbomber @ 04/09/12 07:32 PM
MVP 05 for me was one of the best baseball videogames ever created. It was way ahead of its time. It introduced the meter pitching system and zone hitting where you hit the ball where it was pitched.
Smooth animations, realistic scores, a great amount of options, sliders, gameplay modes, it was so much fun.
Graphically it looked a little cartoony but the textures were great and the fluidity of the players were awesome. I dont know how but everything felt like there was weight behind it from the batter swinging, it felt like he was actually swinging hard, to throwing and catching, it didnt feel weight less.
This the first baseball that challeneged me and I actually had to crawl out of the cellar to make the playoffs.
The Show series has been on an amazing run and for good reason, its such a great looking and great playing game.
I play the show today and still wish it had certain aspects of MVP 05.
# 6 Da-Man @ 04/09/12 07:33 PM
This proves that the people on these forums are not EA haters but sports game lovers and will voice their opinion on a great or bad sports game which ever company makes it.
# 7 wallofhate @ 04/09/12 08:20 PM
Im jaded with this pick. I loved wwf no mercy,the first nfl 2k on dreamcast and the live after the knicks spurs finals(sorry forgot the year) 2nd is the mike vick madden and ncaa 2005 I think it was. But all are grsat games
# 8 lnin0 @ 04/09/12 09:35 PM
MVP 05 is the Beyond Good & Evil of sports games. A wonderful, fantastic game that nobody played but everyone loves to claim.
# 9 daflyboys @ 04/09/12 09:52 PM
Originally Posted by lnin0
MVP 05 is the Beyond Good & Evil of sports games. A wonderful, fantastic game that nobody played but everyone loves to claim.

Got some stats?
# 10 Armor and Sword @ 04/09/12 11:25 PM
No doubt one of my all time favorite sports games. I played not one, not two, but 3 straight 162 game seasons with the Florida Marlins and won two WS titles. I truly loved this game. I played it for 5 straight years (yep it took me 5 years to play three full seasons a I also played a good number of AA and AAA games to get a feel for my farm system) I also buried myself in the stat's and just loved playing this game. It was the best....until I played The Show 2009. I woul have to say The Show 12 is my all time favorite baseball game now. But thing I miss about MVP 2005

1) The outstanding Hitters eye. A great feature no doubt.

2) The amazing base running controls. The best ever.

3) The outstanding fielding controls and responsiveness of them. I loved playing defense on MVP 2005. Where as in The Show because of the beautiful animations...the fielding is clunky and I do auto fielding because of the delay and lack of pin point responsiveness.

4) The managing of player personalities. It was awesome.

5) The deep minor league system.

MVP 2005 is a worthy winner and no doubt a top 5 GOAT sports title in my book.
# 11 Gleebo @ 04/09/12 11:39 PM
High Heat series was a better playing baseball game. The batter-pitcher interface in High Heat, especially the first couple of years is still better than even the Show is now. You could actually work the count for the advantage as a batter and when pitching when you got ahead in the count you were rewarded and vice versa...

MVP was a good game, this is really to me a more of an acknowledgement or tip of the cap, to all the modders out there that gave the series its only true value...
# 12 bigdoc85 @ 04/10/12 07:40 AM
Okay -- I had to put this in the XBox this morning to remember how this plays. Just played a full game on MLB 12 The Show last night so I felt that I would be able to make some comparisons on basic gameplay.

Pitching has clearly evolved since MVP 05. In fact, in my opinion, pitching is much better on MVP NCAA 07 than MVP 05.

Fielding is responsive in MVP 05, but maybe too responsive. I found the fielders felt kinda "loose" and it was difficult to be in the right position. I do like the simplicity of the throwing meter, though. I'm still not crazy about the fielding in MLB 12 The Show but hopefully that will be an improvement in the future.

My general impressions of MVP 05 after a couple of innings of gameplay only are that the game was very good for its time but the game has moved on. Keep in mind that there were a lot of other features / modes to this game that people liked which also added to the game and made it a favorite.
# 13 Niekro4President @ 04/10/12 11:52 AM
Krukow and Kuiper as commentators gives this a GOAT.
# 14 tabulaRasa @ 04/10/12 03:50 PM
Once again os pimp up ea, ea had an Exclusive deal, 2k only had a 3rd party Exclusive deal.
# 15 bhurst99 @ 04/10/12 04:33 PM
MVP 05 is still the best PC baseball game.
# 16 Juggernaut55 @ 04/10/12 04:49 PM
I've bought the last 3 or 4 MLB The Show's and they have all been great games...but towards the end of baseball season I always find myself back to playing MVP...if MVP would have had a "My Player" mode I wouldn't even bother buying the shows...also does anyone know where I can find a copy of the PC version?
# 17 Gleebo @ 04/10/12 07:59 PM
Originally Posted by 55
That's not even debatable.
High Heat....best batter /pitcher interface. made the game better than MVP...IMHO
# 18 Pandetta @ 04/10/12 09:35 PM
Originally Posted by lnin0
MVP 05 is the Beyond Good & Evil of sports games. A wonderful, fantastic game that nobody played but everyone loves to claim.
MVP is still the best selling baseball game of all time. A few people played it.
# 19 noonan2112 @ 04/11/12 03:59 PM
Very fitting winner in my book! I have played more hours of this game than any in my lifetime. It was a sad day when I gave up my PS2 knowing that I would not be able to throw in a little MVP Baseball now and again. MLB The Show has been a very worthy substitue ever since.
# 20 Alai @ 04/11/12 05:07 PM
High Heat is the best period.

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