If you’re considering buying this game because of the whole ‘Derek Jeter’ part of its name then you can get that thought out of your head right now. Derek Jeter Real Baseball has about as much to do with Derek Jeter as Fruit Loops does with its mascot Toucan Sam. Yes, he’s on the box, but he has almost nothing to do with what’s inside. Even Jeter’s in-game persona is indistinguishable from every other player.
However, if you’ve come looking for a solid baseball title, then you’ve come to the right place, mostly. DJRB contains some pretty noticeable errors if you’re a fan of baseball, but on the whole it’s a well-executed title that will appeal to those who want something a bit more serious-looking than other great iPhone baseball games.
Put it in the sweet spot.
It doesn’t sound like much, but a big draw for many serious baseball fans is going to be the more ‘realistic’ graphics. By ‘realistic’ we don’t mean that the graphics looks real, but rather that they’re modeled after real life rather than the weird, exaggerated, or overly buff characters from other games like Baseball Slugger and Baseball Superstars 2010. The graphics aren’t amazing, but some fans will appreciate being able to get their fix in public without being totally embarrassed.
That said, a baseball game is nothing without its core mechanics for pitching and hitting, and it’s here that DJRB delivers. To begin a pitch, players try to aim the ball using the tilt function. It’s easy enough to throw a pitch right down the middle, but if you want to paint the corners with a nasty curve ball, it takes a fair amount of skill. Next, you have to tap the screen as two meters fluctuate. This will determine the power and accuracy of the pitch. On their own, it’s easy to perfect each of these three parts, but combining them all into one great throw takes concentration. DJRB’s pitching strikes a good balance between accessibility and depth.
Hitting is much simpler. All you do is tap the screen when the ball is at just the right spot. It sounds easy, but getting that timing down takes practice. As you’re hitting you can also manage the small-ball tactics that were noticeably absent in MLB World Series 2009. Sacrifice bunts, stealing, and hit-and-runs are all possible with just a couple of taps.
Sa-wing, batter batter.
It’s not all perfect, though. The opposing AI has issues both on the base path, and on defense. These defenders will routinely throw to the wrong base, and base runners for the other team will make bad base running decisions.
The biggest issue though, is that the ball moves way too fast relative to the players running the bases. It sounds like a small issue, but it leads to major problems. The most noticeable is that hitting a ground ball into right field (which would normally result in a base hit) will almost always result in you being thrown out at first base. This will probably happen at least once per inning. It’s annoying, but not so much that we couldn’t get over it.
Derek Jeter Real Baseball is a good baseball game, but it comes with its fair share of flaws. There are definitely better, deeper baseball games out there, but if you’re averse to the cutesy vibe of the awesome Baseball Superstar games, then DJRB will still get the job done.