Baseball fans don’t have a lot of choices when it comes to video games this year, and they’ll have even fewer next year. But there’s still plenty of good gaming to be had in the current crop of baseball simulations. MVP BASEBALL 2005

This is Electronic Arts’ last hurrah as far as baseball games, after rival Take Two acquired the exclusive rights to develop third-party baseball titles featuring Major League players and stadiums. baseball simulations. MVP BASEBALL 2005

It’s a strong effort, with a new manager feature that should appeal to hard-core simulation fans more interested in managing concession stands than belting home runs. baseball simulations. MVP BASEBALL 2005

Pitching is pretty straightforward. Setting pitching power and placement is second nature after a while. Batting is more difficult, and all that can really be controlled is the timing of your swing. baseball simulations. MVP BASEBALL 2005

The graphics are a little bleary, although the animation is good. baseball simulations. MVP BASEBALL 2005

The online play is serviceable, and since it’s EA, there are plenty of other gamers out there. baseball simulations. MVP BASEBALL 2005

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL 2K5 baseball simulations. MVP BASEBALL 2005

Take Two’s baseball title looks and feels great, and I prefer the hitting and pitching interface to "MVP Baseball’s." Unfortunately, there’s no manager mode, and the emphasis is clearly on arcade play. baseball simulations. MVP BASEBALL 2005

For instance, occasionally the game will bring up a "slam zone" interface during a pitch, and the batter will get a clear view of where the ball is going. Line up the cross hairs with the pitch fast enough, and you’re guaranteed a huge home run. The slam zone feature can be turned off, but if you’re not a fan of that type of hardball, you’re better off with "MVP Baseball" or Sony’s "MLB 2006." baseball simulations. MVP BASEBALL 2005

Online play with "MLB 2K5" is a breeze, and there were plenty of other players to play against. baseball simulations. MVP BASEBALL 2005

MLB 2006 baseball simulations. MVP BASEBALL 2005

Sony’s PS2-only baseball game is surprisingly good. The graphics are extremely crisp, the animation is excellent and the sounds are very sharp. baseball simulations. MVP BASEBALL 2005

From a pure technical standpoint, it’s my favorite of the three baseball games I tested. The game play is great, and it plays a lot like "MVP Baseball 2005." baseball simulations. MVP BASEBALL 2005

Once again, there’s no manager mode, but a bigger problem was the online play. I got dumped out of the first online game I played, plus my PS2 froze up completely and I had to restart the console. baseball simulations. MVP BASEBALL 2005

Other players online have mentioned experiencing similar glitches, so if you’re a big fan of online play, you may want to stick to one of the other titles. baseball simulations. MVP BASEBALL 2005

But if online play isn’t a big deal, then don’t feel shy about going with Sony’s less well-known house brand. baseball simulations. MVP BASEBALL 2005

NEW PSP GAMES baseball simulations. MVP BASEBALL 2005

"MVP Baseball 2005": Grade: B+ For GameCube, $29, suitable for ages 13 and up baseball simulations. MVP BASEBALL 2005

"Major League Baseball 2K5": Grade: A- For PlayStation 2 and Xbox, $19, suitable for all ages baseball simulations. MVP BASEBALL 2005

"MLB 2006": Grade: B+ For PlayStation 2, $39, suitable for all ages baseball simulations. MVP BASEBALL 2005

© 2005, The Dallas Morning News. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.