You could say that MLB 2006 has its mind set in the future: while all the other baseball games out there are stuck in the year 2005, MLB 2006 has its feet planted firmly in the world of tomorrow. Unfortunately, the mystical world of tomorrow doesn't seem all that different from the hum-drum world of today, but if MLB 2006 is any indication, baseball is still a whole of fun.
The real star of the show in MLB 2006 is the fleshed out career mode. Instead taking the role of a manager for a team and working out all the more mundane tasks of baseball, MLB 2006 lets you create a character and have at it from the minor leagues on up. From there, it's a pretty simple affair to build up your character in an almost RPG-like way: play games, build up your stats, and work your way up to the big leagues.
Another facet of MLB 2006 to receive a huge overhaul is the pitching mechanics. During your wind up, you'll have to tap the X button three times at precise locations to determine your pitch's velocity and release, both of which has a definite affect on the outcome of the pitch. It really ensures that the pitching game is never trivialized as you'll have to do more than just pick a location for your pitch; in fact, it really keeps you cemented in the game, making the entire cat and mouse chase between the pitcher and the batter feel much, much deeper.
The only thing that lags behind a bit is the fielding, and that's not because it's not done well -- it's just that it lacks the amount of depth that the pitching and batting offer up. It also seems to hinge too strongly on those rare plays like incredible shortstop dives or huge leaps at the wall to snag away that homerun, and the computer AI, likewise, seems to be very proficient at pulling them both off on the veteran and all-star difficulty levels.
MLB 2006 looks just fine, too; nothing that'll knock your socks off, but it's not bad looking by any means. There's a wealth of animations for the players and when combined with the detailed player faces and nicely rendered models, a believable ballpark setting is produced.
Audio-wise, the play-by-play commentary is pretty decent, but the collection of horrible rock tunes that finds its way through the menus seems a bit out of place with the running theme of the game.
It's hard to find any major fault with MLB 2006 and it's just as hard to find those minor, nagging issues. With a wealth of options at your disposal and mechanics that are solid all around, it's sure to please casual and hardcore baseball fans alike.