The beauty of Slugfest is that it's pretty easy to pick up and play. The controls are intuitive, and the pitching and batting interfaces work well. Once you've mastered the timing of things, like the swing of the bat and the hard slides and tags, it's easy to get hooked. All in all, the game has more in common with the great 8- and 16-bit baseball games of old than with today's complex simulation-style affairs. Players who lost touch with baseball games when they went 3D on the PlayStation may find that Slugfest is exactly what they've been missing.
Graphically, Slugfest still looks great. The player models have slightly larger-than-normal heads, presumably to show off the nice work that has gone into modeling their faces, but other than that, the game's models are pretty authentic. The game runs at a fast, smooth speed, and the effects used for players who are on fire are pretty cool. The motion-captured animation is solid, particularly when it's used to convey the impact between two players in a slide situation. Also, more player-specific stances and animations have been added for this year's game.
...but MLB Slugfest 2004's impact is diminished a bit by the fact that last year's game is still relatively recent history.
Last year's Slugfest introduced Midway's two-man commentary team, and the duo has a slew of new things to say this time around. Tim and Jimmy fall into the classic wacky guy and straight man routine, and for the most part, the commentary is genuinely funny, features some pretty clever writing, and is definitely one of the game's high points. Even the pregame loading screen contains some commentary. The rest of the game also sounds great, giving proper emphasis to the whoosh of a fast pitch, the crack of the bat, and the crunch of player collisions.
On its own merits, Slugfest is a fine game of baseball on all three platforms, and any baseball fan who hasn't played it yet should definitely check it out, keeping in mind that Slugfest doesn't take itself seriously. However, MLB Slugfest 2004's impact is diminished a bit by the fact that last year's game is still relatively recent history. A few more additions, like online play, would have definitely helped tip the scales. Owners of last year's game should probably rent this one to see if the additions are meaningful enough to warrant a second purchase.