PC Game Review: Puresim Baseball 2005
Mike Dorn steps up to the plate and reviews Matrix Games' foray into the sports genre with Puresim Baseball 2005. Will Puresim Baseball strike out or knock one into the grandstands? Either way, expect gratuitous baseball cliches.
The overall interface of the game is one of its strengths. The approach of using hyperlinks to reach whatever information the gamer desires is a solid design choice, and there really is a wealth of information easily available. The bad part of this approach, and something that plagues many similar sports management titles, is that it can easily become a clickfest if the gamer is doing a lot of traveling around. Puresim Baseball 2005 includes a wealth of options, and the ability to customize many features is one of its strongest elements that help make it a good game.
Starting a new league from scratch is extremely easy due to the organization of the interface. Deciding the perimeters of the league, and how many clubs are to be involved, is the first step, and it is generally a smooth process. The perimeters include deciding the financial resources for the clubs, which can be dictated by region or equalized across all clubs. Then the format of the league is chosen, which allocates how many teams are in each division, and the league structure. The gamer can then select the clubs from a listing of geographic legions or allow the PC to randomly select the clubs and their team nicknames. There is also an option to create a region. This process is aided by the game prompting the gamer onwards as each step is accomplished.
Another excellent design decision was to provide as much information as possible with the appropriate options. When the gamer explores the various tweaks they can make to the basic structure, this specific information on the individual options gives them a reasonable basis for either choosing or not choosing the option. One unusual choice in the game is that there is no ability, at least within the game, to make a discrete save game at a certain date. To accomplish this, the gamer must make a physical copy of the game database at the specific time and store it somewhere besides the Puresim directory.
The gameplay elements of Puresim Baseball 2005 are very good. Automating portions of the game that the gamer doesn't want to view or handle are nice options that can ease play. There are options available to suit every style of play, and the game can be tweaked to take into consideration specific eras in baseball's past (for example, the deadball era) when evaluating players during the initial conversion from statistics drawn from the Lahman database. There are also choices to be made on the rating scale for the player's skills, which can be anywhere from 1-100 to 1-5. The one option lacking in this scale is that the game fails to offer the standard 20-80 rating scale that is used universally in baseball scouting.
Puresim Baseball 2005 excels in the initial league draft. Accomplishing the draft takes very little effort and there is an option to automate the draft from a specific point onward. A suggestion option is available when the gamer is preparing to make their choice. When prompted, the PC suggests a player for the gamer's next pick and this can be valuable in not overlooking good players. If the gamer is satisfied with their selections, they can automatically populate the remainder of their roster by specifying a drafting philosophy for the PC to follow in making their remaining selections. Each initial selection also involves offering the player a contract. These contracts can be 1-5 years in length, with longer contracts involving a lesser salary per year. Once the draft is concluded and the teams are set with players, the Association menu offers a one-stop location to view standings, statistical leaders, latest news and links to the specific teams. This type of linkage is evident throughout the game and offers a good way to reach the treasure trove of available information.
Puresim Baseball 2005 allows the gamer to personally manage their club each day and automate the rest of the schedule or provide general managerial guidelines and allow the PC to manage the gamer's clubs games. The automation process involves picking a pitching rotation and lineups. The lineups can be tailored to which hand the starting pitcher throws with, to help take advantage of the platoon aspects of which side the batters hit on. The bullpen usage can also be tailored, and a closer can be designated. If the gamer plans on simulating the season and not managing on a game-by-game basis, they can indicate general managerial tendencies for their club. A good method of approaching this playing of the schedule by automation can be to simulate a month at a time, which allows for finer tuning based on injuries and player usage.
If managing a game at a time, Puresim Baseball 2005 allows the gamer to adjust the lineups before starting the actual game, which makes compensating for injuries a snap. If switches are needed during the game, for example changing pitchers or pinch-hitting, it is easy to access the Modify Roster and Lineup screen and make the change. The game is smart enough to understand double-switches, though the gamer may have to attempt them once or twice to get the method down, because it isn't as intuitive a process as it could be. The Modify Roster and Lineup screen is an area begging for a drop and drag option, which would work wonders by making this easier to use. I found an annoying problem when managing the game and moving between the Modify Roster and Lineup screen and the field. Occasionally, the various information boxes, which populate the field, will not return when moving back from the Modify Lineup screen. This leaves the gamer short of information they may need to make a decision until they actually progress through one more play and the boxes reappear.