Super Mega Baseball 3, with its focus on near-superhuman athletes and their copious stats, is, in essence, an interactive baseball card. Metalhead Software’s latest title is a snapshot of what makes the sport an internationally beloved game, as it inserts you into a world where dingers go deep, showboats flex their super-sized biceps, and pitcher-batter match ups are tense games of cat and mouse. This third entry in the series boasts numerous on-field improvements, player traits, and gameplay modes for both default and custom ball clubs that push the series deeper into simulation territory. Despite light frame rate issues and other minor complaints, Super Mega Baseball 3 is the best title in the series to date and an outstanding PC game.
Super Mega Baseball 3 is an extension of the game that came before it, but doesn’t match the major gameplay and visual changes that occurred between Super Mega Baseball and Super Mega Baseball 2. The play is tighter, and the character models boast refinement, though dark-skinned players still suffer from an odd lighting effect that gives their skin a plastic-like appearance.
Naturally, Super Mega Baseball 3 features many of its predecessor’s best aspects, including charming fictional teams, deep player and squad customizations, the streak-inducing Mojo system, and the wonderful Ego system that lets you tweak the difficulty in various offensive and defensive areas. Please check our Super Mega Baseball 2 review for an-depth analysis of the game’s basics; this review will focus on Super Mega Baseball 3’s new features.
New Ways to Play
Despite its cartoon-like look, Super Mega Baseball is more MLB The Show than Baseball Stars 2. Joining the returning Exhibition, Season, Elimination, and Pennant Race (the lone mode featuring cross-platform play with PS4, Switch, and Xbox gamers) is the new Franchise mode.
With Franchise, you select one of the 20 co-ed Super Mega Baseball teams and take it into multiyear competition. This is a big addition that lets you earn money, sign free agents, cut veterans at the tail end of their careers, and boost player stats. Finally, Super Mega Baseball lets you scratch that front-office itch.
Metalhead Software has a post-launch roadmap that sees the developer releasing a tool that lets you import custom Super Mega Baseball 2 teams, as well as a potentially cool cross-platform Custom Pennant Mode that let you play with locked Ego, tweak inning numbers, play in a round-robin format, and more.
The biggest gameplay addition, however, is player traits. Not every Super Mega Baseball character has a player trait, but those that do can have a maximum of two. Traits give the fictional, non-licensed ballplayers additional personality.
For example, Buzzards pitcher Meat Commonly has the Composed trait, so he receives a +25 accuracy increase when he has a 3-ball count. On the other hand, Sirloins hitter Fillet Jones is an RBI Man, meaning that he receives +15 Power and +10 Contact when batting with a runner in scoring position. That’s not to say that all traits are beneficial; some players wilt under pressure or tend to chase bad pitches when they’re two strikes in the hole.
These player traits give the game an extremely satisfying extra layer of depth. If you’re on the mound with a righty hurler and see that the Buzzards’ lefty slugger, Jacques O’ften, receives a power boost against right-handed pitchers, you may want to give the brawny batter the ol’ Barry Bonds treatment.
Rounding the Bases
Regardless of your preferred game mode, you’ll be treated to the lively and entertaining baseball contests. Super Mega Baseball 3 has the same offensive and defensive options as Super Mega Baseball 2, but adds numerous on-field improvements. The game now has pick-off moves, passed balls, designated hitters, improved base stealing mechanics, and the dropped third strike rule. The touched-up stadiums now host day and night games, too. These additions add to the overall ballpark flavor, which makes for an excellent baseball title.
The pitching and hitting are crisp and intuitive, so anyone should be able to pick up and play Super Mega Baseball 3 with ease. It feels so good to nip the corner with a curve on a called third strike; a strike that sends the batter in a bat-shattering rage.
Fielding and base-running are slightly more complex endeavors, as you have different buttons diving, jumping, stealing, sending one runner, or sending all runners. Remembering button functions is the game’s most challenging control aspect, but that’s overcome in a few gameplay sessions.
Taking a glance at Super Mega Baseball 3’s Pixar-like graphics may lead you to assume that the game doesn’t require hefty hardware to properly run. That would be a correct assumption. According to the game’s Steam page, Super Mega Baseball 3 requires an Intel Core 2 Duo CPU (or AMD equivalent), a DirectX 11-compatible GPU, 4GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and the Windows 10 operating system. Super Mega Baseball 3’s graphics settings include Anisotropy, Antialiasing, Shadow Quality, Crowd Density, Crowd Variation, and Shader Quality.
The game mostly runs well. My gaming desktop, one with components that greatly surpass the minimum specs, pushed polygons between 55 and 60 frames per second. That said, the frame rate dropped into the 30 to 40 fps range when the on-field camera zoomed into the densely packed bleachers. The frame rate dip isn’t a dealbreaker, but it is noticeable. The online experience was identical in my testing.
Super Mega Baseball 3 supports numerous Steam Achievements, Steam Cloud, Steam Leaderboards, Remote Play on TV, and Remote Play Together. On the control side, the baseball game is compatible with gamepads and gaming mice/keyboards.
Headed to the Hall
Now in its third iteration in six years, Super Mega Baseball has miraculously maintained its freshness by adding engaging new characters, features, and customization, and by not becoming a spammy annualized franchise. More importantly, Super Mega Baseball 3 deftly represents what people love about the sport, with its larger-than-life characters, exhilarating moments, and agonizing defeats. We may not have Major League Baseball this year, but the game’s spirit lives on.
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