The offseason is the video game season — because unless we have the patience to find streaming footage of Australian or Latin American baseball, this is all the diamond action we get. And though we have not reached the apex of the video game season — thereabouts of Spring Training when new versions of The Show and OOTP and whatnot start pouring into our grateful gullets — we do have a game to review in the form of the MLB’s new Facebook game entitled MLB Ballpark Empire.
Game: MLB Ballpark Empire
Platform: Facebook (incompatible with Facebook mobile app)
Cool Features: …it’s free? This is normally where we list a series of facets unique to the game, but the strongest and most unique component of this here title may be simply its price.
Total Score: 74/100 (C)
• Simple, intuitive interface.
• Players you know!
• Free to play (pay to excel).
• Minimal loading times (on legit computers such as mine, at least).
• Neither overly difficult nor too easy.
• Bizarre, arbitrary rating system.
• Encourages — *shudder* — interaction with Facebook friends.
• Requires actual financial input to unlock certain players, features.
• Flash cannot seem to handle all the moving parts at various times. Even my video-editing computers had jumpy-ness during ballgames as my stadium grew to epic dimensions.
There’s little to say about this game because there is little to this game. It is addicting. It addicts — we can affirm that much — but like many an addiction in God’s green, brown, and blue earth, it does not form an admirable addiction, but a self-loathing sort.
Here we see my handsome ballpark structure.
I began playing this game because the MLB, quite rightly, advertised at me within Facebook itself. So when I started playing, I did so Lone Wolf Style. My dearest wife, so empathetic and dear, volunteered to join in the game — to help speed along my progress towards Stadium God (not a real thing). Had she not done so, you might be reading this review in March instead of January — or perhaps I would have a mid-50s grade up there instead of a mid-70s grade as I would have quit in frustration quite swiftly.
Here we see examples two less-developed stadiums, that of my baseballing chum, Justin, and my dearest, most-hotest wife, without whom this review would not have succeeded.
So what is the premise of the game? Well, first of all, let us note that very little of this game correlates with the real world of franchise ownership or stadium management. The basic concept is that we are stadium owners who, in order to build our franchise (i.e. improve the roster, build a newer and better stadiums, etc.), we must play home games and invest in the stadium and outlying areas.
Here is a peak into the concourse
during some hot, in-game action —
read: hot, in-game vendor restocking.
The difficulty level edges up as the game moves along. Players complete missions for various rewards (missions like: Own two Level 2 hot dog stands, buy outfield seating, etc.) which eventually lead the ballpark owner to hiring actual MLB players to replace the free or cheap fake players.
As a ballpark owners ascend to the upper levels of stadium management (such that I am at), they must carefully balance their contract expenses with their expansion projects and mission expenses. I have already lost at least one trained-up player because I did not have the foresight to store enough reserve funds to retain him.
A look at my eclectic roster. Here we will note
that a game in which Albert Pujols is not the best
first baseman in the league (here a default 88
rating) is a game without a direct 1:1
connection with reality.
The game model is changed very little from the Farmville model most Facebook games now employ. If creativity were a dimension we typically graded in these reviews, MLB Ballpark Empire would get thereabouts of a 4/10. Little in the way of features and playing structure differs from that once-popular agrarian game. Though it saddens me to see the MLB exhibiting completely uninspired game design, the game itself is not un-fun, and it can be addicting if a circle of friends take an active interest in it.
Since this the only new game of the offseason until the next version of ZiPS RBI Baseball comes out, odds are you might as well give it a spin because eh, why not?