|04-06-2010, 06:39 PM||#1|
Taps Mana Professionally
[Multiplatform] MLB 2K10 Review
MLB 2K10 Review
Title: Major League Baseball 2K10
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, PC*
Developer: Visual Concepts
Publisher: 2K Sports
Reviewer / Editor: Rob Schuster / Andrew Hodder
The pitching stands out as the most well polished portion of gameplay.
In the interest of full disclosure, MLB2k10 is the first baseball game I've owned since Super Bases Loaded on the SNES. Though you're likely to find many other reviews of the year's sports games from the point of view of a veteran player who can run down the list of changes and tweaks from year to year, I can simply do my best to give an honest appraisal of the gameplay from my point of view. I'm a long time fan of baseball and truly enjoy a live game, regularly put on the Reds games while driving in the summertime and can lucidly argue why the lack of a salary cap is killing small market teams. The question that presents itself to me is; to the avid gamer and casual baseball fan, is MLB2k10 worth your hard earned gaming dollars?
My interest first started with MLB2k10 when I was reading about the MLB Today feature. Integration of the day's games and the live stat updates is like catnip to a baseball nerd. While I may not be completely enthralled with every aspect of baseball, I can appreciate the feature from the standpoint that it dynamically changes the gameplay experience every time you play. The commentary is affected by these updates and often times in my first ten hours of gameplay, I was pleasantly surprised by its quality and pertinence to the action. Even after that, the play-by-play is punctuated with more thoughtful statements by the announcers, really massaging the audio experience into a convincing game day radio experience.
Nothing is quite as thrilling as working your way through the count.
The actual depth of the gameplay takes place at the plate. In the marketing materials for the game you've probably heard them touting the head to head matchup of pitcher versus batter or the duel at the plate. In actual play, the pitching lives up to the billing but the batting portion falls a bit flat.
Pitching is accomplished with a gesture system that involves selecting a pitch then mimicking the motion presented in the pitch's diagram. First you select your pitch, then you're given a guide and an outline of the strike zone with which to aim your pitch illustrating the likely movement of that throw. How accurately you accomplish the movement and the duration that you hold the final motion determines how close the ball finishes to your aim and the speed of the pitch.
As time wears on and your pitch count rises, your pitches will be further and further off the mark. To complicate things further, if things start going south for your pitcher and he's giving up hits, you ball's aim positioning may begin to stutter or disappear altogether tightening the difficulty of playing solidly under pressure.
With all of these touches and the corresponding stats on pitchers relating well to their real world counterparts, you have a tremendously fun experience where taking the mound is an intuitive, fun, and often times thrilling experience.
A rare site when I'm batting is making good enough contact to warrant a replay of the hit.
Batting, by comparison, seems stuck in the stone age of a single button press with its timing determining the success of your swing. Though certain batters who are known for their discerning eye may give you handy tips about the pitch as it leaves the mound, these players seem to be few and far between. To complicate matters, the AI will quickly pick up on the fact that you're likely to swing at borderline and bad pitches and send you nothing but those. This leads to a frustrating experience for newcomers to the game where they're easily worked over by even the most novice of pitchers.
Thankfully, 2K Sports has supplied copious amounts of clearly labeled difficulty sliders so I was able to pump my batters up and weaken opposing pitchers to compensate. Unfortunately, bumping the difficulty down a slight bit meant I wasn't able to earn any achievements. While I understand that to many sports game players these are hard earned badges of honor for playing at the harder difficulties, earning *none* for not being the hardest of the hardcore is rather harsh. Fortunately, the little bits of coveted avatar clothing that are tucked within the game can be earned regardless of what difficulty you play on.
Even dressed up for screenshots, it's tough to notice anything to get excited about.
Graphically the game is a bit of a slouch. Outside of the fielder's quick actions for double plays and the close up replays of those extremely solid animations, you'd be hard pressed to identify 2k10 as having come out in the year of its namesake. The camera often gets confused and stuck behind view obscuring objects when attempting cinematic angles at the end of games or innings. The crowd is lackluster and the texture work often seems downright plastic.
Where the game has gaps in the graphical quality, it has nearly none in the audio. As already mentioned, the announcers are lifelike and contribute appropriately to the experience. The musical selection further perpetuates the illusion of a live game with walk up music and a fantastic selection of great artists including the brilliant Ryan Adams among others. Mixing in well, though rather muted at times are the sounds of the game on the field. Unfortunately, the crowd noise mimics their appearance and often seems ham-fistedly pasted on top of the rest of the game.
Multiplayer was a mixed bag in my experience. I was either getting stomped or derided by my online opponents and usually both. It's true I never won a game but I will count as victories the two opponents that disconnected, regardless of my deficient score. This has lead me to the further conclusion that despite the myriad of instant replays illustration how I managed to narrowly avoid making contact with a pitch, I may perhaps be bad at offense in this game. Regardless of my online difficulties, playing locally was easy and fun. It was also nice to see someone struggling with the batting controls as much as myself.
The varied goal prompts for each bit of action in the My Player do add a bit of spice and something to focus on to break up the monotony.
The My Player career mode included in MLB 2k10 is rather hit or miss. Since I personally can't stand batting, I had a great time when I finally rolled up a relief pitcher. Getting out of tight spots and hardly having to bat made my experience with the game mode ten times better than trying to make it to the hall of fame as a catcher snagging fly balls and doing an abysmal job of trying to meet batting average requirements.
In conclusion, while this isn't a game I'd blanketly recommend to everyone, the MLB Today integration and pitching gameplay are fantastic. Perhaps if there's a price cut midway through the season, you can pick it up and enjoy taking the mound against wickedly tough lineups in the post season.
Score: 3/5 CoGs
*This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.
|04-06-2010, 07:33 PM||#2|
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Elsewhere, CA
Blog Entries: 5
Damn, probably should've picked this up yesterday when it was 3 bucks on D2D.
"If it's bad, I'll hate it. If it's good, then I'll be envious and hate it even more. You don't want the opinion of another writer."
|04-06-2010, 07:39 PM||#3|
DON'T FIGHT IT!
Join Date: Oct 2008
I'm enjoying this game an awful lot. You mention one-button hitting - were you not using the much better feeling thumbstick swinging?
The most important part of hitting in MLB2k10 is not swinging at balls. This alone makes it my favorite baseball game in a long, long time. Most baseball games lose any pretense of realism by making the average at-bat last 1 or 2 pitches. In MLB2k10 if you swing at every first pitch, you will do horrendously bad.
It definitely takes some time to get used to the strike zone, but they do offer an "Eye" rating to help you out with quick previews of the pitch speed and location as it's thrown. MyPlayer hitting can be doubly tough at first, since your ratings are awful, so even a well-timed swing can produce weak fly outs. But this game really rewards you with a feeling of improvement as you play, increasing both your player's stats and your own ability. When I first started my MyPlayer, I was woeful at the plate even against weak minor league pitchers. By season 2 (my rookie season in the majors), I'm probably going to win the Triple Crown and will need to raise the difficulty in the future.
It's got some annoying bugs (the worst of which is starters regaining stamina during a game, letting them throw 140+ pitches commonly), most of which are due to be patched out any day now. Once that happens, I can fully endorse this as one of the best sports games in recent years. It's up there with Baseball Stars and MLB Power Pros for me, and that's high praise indeed.
|04-06-2010, 11:27 PM||#4|
Sr. Features Editor
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Toronto, Canada
Blog Entries: 6
|04-06-2010, 11:33 PM||#5|
47 Friendly Fires
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Green Bay, WI
Blog Entries: 1
I have to say - I found the batting in this game to be the most realistic experience you could be given. It's important - when you're looking at your batter, they've got distinct stats - are they a contact or power hitter? If you're just pushing the stick forward to bat, you're trying to just make contact, if you pull back then forward, you're going for it all - that's what I would expect out of a baseball game. It's much better than most baseball games in the past.
On the topic of batting and you whiffing at everything - if I were pitching to you and you swung at anything, hell yes I'd throw you an off-speed pitch near the dirt. If you're gonna swing at everything, I'll throw all the junk that I can. Like it has been said, you actually need to watch for the outside pitch and train yourself to not swing. That's how baseball really is - it's a 3-2 pitch that just touches the corner.
|2k10, 360, baseball, mlb, ps3|