Baseball Mogul 2013 (PC) Review
Game: Baseball Mogul 2013
Genre: Sports Simulation
I have followed the Baseball Mogul franchise ever since I found the first installment of it in a bargain bin at a EB Games store about 14 years ago. It single-handedly started my love and adoration for text-based sports games and management games. It helped define who I am as a gamer. Ever since then I have played every single game that comes out every single year. At first, before the era of broadband and before I had a credit card, I would go to my local game shop and ask, beg and harass the cashiers until they brought in the new entry to retail. Now I simply head to sportsmogul.com and purchase it as a download. Either way spring means baseball and with baseball comes another Baseball Mogul.
Being such a passionate fan, I will admit that not every yearly entry of Mogul has been worth the price of admission. Some of them have amounted to a roster update and a few under-the-hood tweaks that the casual fan won’t even notice. That being said, the 2013 edition of Baseball Mogul is the greatest ever! If you have been waiting for the next jump forward in the franchise, this is it!
At first you will see the same options from the past few games. You can start a new league with the rosters from this season, a classic league with accurate rosters for every team on every year from 1901 to 2012, a fictional league with fake teams and players, an expansion league in which you select a team from their expansion year and run them from their humble beginnings or a custom league in which you can select teams from different eras and pit them against each other. The wealth of options and modes guarantee infinite replay value (especially with multiple difficulty settings). But these options are the same we have seen in the last few moguls. Where’s the difference?
The difference my friends, is under the hood. Ever since its inception, the Baseball Mogul franchise has relied on one method to simulate results. Similar to Stat-O-Matic and pretty much every single baseball sim out there, Mogul compared a set of stats to determine the result of the pitcher-batter encounters. Stuff like the batter’s ability to see the ball, his power, strike out rate etc. where compared against the pitcher’s speed, control and so on, toss in a random variable of chance and BAM!….results happen. The entire at bat was simulated in one fell swoop. But that’s not how it happens in real life. I mean, you don’t see Albert Pujols step in against Roy Halladay and magically, 7-8 pitches are thrown and Pujols ends up with an RBI double, right? Well, that’ the way Mogul used to do it. Even if you selected the “Pitch-by-Pitch” option, the result of the at bat had already been predetermined from a base set of stats. NOT ANYMORE! The entire simulation code has been written from the ground up to simulate every at bat on a pitch by pitch basis, yielding what felt, in my opinion, like the most realistic results any Mogul has ever produced.
The new engine takes into account the following:
1. The velocity and path of each pitch (similar to that recorded by PITCHf/x).
2. The timing and velocity of the bat swing.
3. The plane of the bat swing (and the location of its sweet spot).
4. The angle and velocity of the hit that results from the above.
The end result? Accuracy my friends! The results are dramatic. I imported a Milwaukee Brewers dynasty from Baseball Mogul 2012. I had started that dynasty in the 1992 season. One of the surprises in my game was Lorenzo Barcelo, who had 3 straight Cy Young contender seasons with 17, 17 and 18 wins respectively, way above what his abilities told me he could do. In his first season under the Mogul 2013 engine, he finished 14-9 with a 3.49 ERA. In his second season, he was the worst starter on the team with a 12-13 record and a 4:56 ERA. On his third season, he finished 12-10, 3.99 ERA. As you can see much more realistic results for a player with an 80 overall rating and no truly dominant pitches. The change from Mogul 2012 to 2013 was amazing, in terms of how many “overpowered” players ended with more realistic numbers and how many “underperformers” rose to more accurate results. Since this trial run of comparison by importing a dynasty from Mogul 2012, I have simmed several seasons in other games created specifically in 2013 and have come away pleased with the results.
The changes also mean that having platoon players is now more important than ever. The new Charts Tab comes in handy for this and makes stat freaks like myself giddy. The Charts Tab tracks down how a batter fares against a pitcher in many meaningful ways, from the broad spectrum like a batter’s batting average against right handers (showing his hot and cold zones, average etc.) for his entire career, to match-up related info like his career isolated power against Roy Halladay, to down to the minute info like his batting average against high and inside fastballs tossed by Matt Cain with two outs in a close game and runners in scoring position. Really! It is freaking amazing! You can also see a “Heat Map” that shows how hot/cold he is across the strike zone for this type of info. If you like to micromanage everything, you will be in heaven.
The rest of the game is largely unchanged. You still set prices for tickets and concessions, adjust your TV Contract settings, adjust your lineups, make trades, sign free agents, draft rookies, organize your minor league system, allocate money to the minors, scouting and health staff and once again you can choose to have full control of your games by telling your batters to hit, bunt etc. or telling your pitchers how to approach batters. Or you can sit back and watch the A.I. do it for you. Or you can simply sim it and don’t even watch it. Whatever you want! This is what makes Mogul great, you can invest as much or as little as you want and still find enjoyment.
While the bells and whistles (graphics, sound, presentation) look nearly identical to Mogul 2012, the differences under the hood make the new version a whole different animal. I can honestly say that I will never go back to the older versions because of how realistic the results feel in this new version. While there are some areas where I think the game needs more attention (I think it’s time for a new financial model) Mogul 2013 shines where it counts for a baseball sim: on the results. All of this while at the same time having enough variables to keep the experience fresh and offer a few surprises. Thumbs up for Baseball Mogul 2013.
|Graphics||8.0||The presentation is clean and easy in the eyes. However, most of the|
|Gameplay||9.0||The game can be as easy and casual or difficult and involved as you want.|
|Sound||5.0||I give them props for being a text-based sim with actual sound effects on the field, but they are repetitive and recycled from last year.|
|Lasting Appeal||9.5||One Mogul game can last you forever, with over 100 seasons at your fingertips and a wealth of options and modes.|
|Fun Factor||9.0||The new engine ups the realism and makes one of the best sims out there even better. Two thumbs up!|
|Overall||8.5 [ Very Good ] legend|