When pro wrestling meets baseball, you get MLB Slugfest Loaded, or put another way, Midway’s Loaded is kind of like an unholy union between the movie Major League and a Bugs Bunny cartoon. There’s not much here to entertain any serious baseball fan, and what remains would only appeal to a pre-adolescent crowd of soccer hooligans.
The Slugfest series tries to make baseball more exciting by adding the ability to punch out opponents in lieu of placing tags on them. Players are also encouraged to bean opposing batters. All of this violence actually makes a strategic sense of sorts. Physically attacking your opponent will decrease his statistical attributes. Unfortunately, this unique aspect of Loaded is miserably boring. One need only jam repeatedly on the tag button to engage in fisticuffs.
Where’s the actual game play? Pitching is awful. The control offered over the placement of pitches in the strike zone is laughably limited. In addition, few pitches from control specialists such as Brad Radke ever hit their mark. Batting is just as much of a guessing game. You’re given the option of two different swings: contact and power. Making contacts is a combination of a pinch of timing and a dollop of luck.
There are a bevy of play options available: multiplayer, home run derby, which is actually as boring to play as it is to watch. Franchise lets one play general manager and manager over a series of seasons. Loaded also offers one the opportunity to play an 'authentic’ style of game. This is Midway’s attempt to compete with the EA, Sega and Microsoft franchises in terms of simulation. They fail here as well. If there’s anything more boring than playing through a game in Slugfest mode, it would be playing an 'authentic’ game. It’s basically a Slugfest mode of play without with flame effects.
A couple of 'hilarious’ announcers set the audio mood of the game by activating ones gag reflex with incessant, inane chatter. The player models and facial mapping are nothing special. However, the physics of Loaded are actually quite nice. The new batting system, as bereft of funs as it is, utilizes physics (speed and location of pitch, timing and type of swing) rather than statistical calculations to determine where a batted ball will go. The ball has a tendency to sharply ricochet off of walls in a less than realistic manner, but the flight, angles and bounces that depict each ball in play are pretty nice.
I wish I had more to say about MLB Slugfest Loaded. It flat out fails to cash in on its unique take on Major League Baseball. The Slugfest version of the game is dull and annoying. In addition, Midway’s attempt to implement a more realistic simulation to compete with the big boys of baseball development is woeful. If you prefer senseless violence in your videogames, you’re better off grabbing any hockey game.