Standard baseball sim
The Hardball series of baseball games is one of the most famous sporting series, and introduced many to the joys of the sport. This relatively recent instalment continues in the same vein as its predecessors, and provides an enjoyably action-oriented take on baseball, although if you have played Hardball 4, then this is basically an update and might be worth missing. It did however, introduce many features that are now standard to the genre, and so can be considered a fairly important game in this respect. Hardball 5 eschews most management aspects, except for trading players, and instead focuses on the on-pitch action instead. There are a number of options available here, including regular seasons, playoffs and even the World Series, while you can even pit historic teams (known as Legends and Immortals) against each for the ultimate fantasy match-up. Gameplay itself is fairly simple in theory but is actually pretty challenging to get right, with various options available for both batting and pitching and which require good timing to get right. The controls can be tricky to get the hang of, but once you have them figured out, the game becomes a lot more straightforward. The game plays out in 3D and the graphics are pretty decent on the whole, with smoothly animated sprites that are quite detailed, but which do move a touch slowly at times. The sound is reasonable, with the usual crowd noises and commentary which doesn't get too repetitive. As baseball games though, this is pretty standard stuff. Some of the new features are neat but hardly earth-shattering and much of your enjoyment is going to come down to how much you like the real sport. For fans, this is worthy play, but for non-converts, you are unlikely to find much interest here.