The Fielder’s Choice

by Nathaniel Edwards profile


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A career-spanning major league baseball game with randomization, March 16, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour

One nice thing I've noticed through playing Choice of Games entries is that they're willing to take chances with games, leading to some nice results like Nebula-nominated games or niche works that appeal very strongly to specific people (like Cannonfire Concerto, for me).

This game, I think, is an example of an experiment that didn't work out too well. Specifically, it relies heavily on randomization. You can train in 5-6 different kinds of pitches like curveballs and fastballs, and then a big chunk of the game is you facing different hitters with you pitches. It lists the chance for each pitch of getting a strike, a 'ball', or them hitting it, and using the same pitch several times in a row makes the batter more likely to hit it.

I appreciate the idea but both gameplay and roleplay-wise I wasn't really feeling it. In general, I just chose the best strike option, although I realized near the end that choose the lowest 'in-play' option was a different strategy. But then much of the story ended up as a result of these randomized choices.

I don't think randomization is horrible, but most games that use randomization well are games that have frequent save points and involve repeating the same tasks over and over (like gambling mini-games, RPG combat grinding, etc.). In this game, with no save points and no second chances, it's rough, and that's playing as a 'power player' (the game's easy mode).

Outside of that, the game has a lot of threads towards interesting ideas but doesn't really pursue them in depth. I did enjoy the freedom to go to a completely different country for a chapter and playing on the moon was cool. The last few chapters have a focus on preparing for your life after baseball and that was by far my favorite part, as you strategize things that might hurt you in one area (like your friendships or future income) but help you in another. Very cool part.

I can't help but compare it to Slammed!, which for me did a better job with making a story about humans. Ironically, my character in Fielder's Choice was very analytical, and when I first tried out sports broadcasting I was told to back away from the stats and focus more on the human element, and I think that this game itself could probably benefit from that advice.

I received a review copy of this game.

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