|System: Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Wii, PS2, DS, PSP|
|Dev: Visual Concepts|
|Pub: 2K Sports|
|Release: March 8, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Mild Lyrics|
by Jake Valentine
As the winter snow melts and spring approaches, the faint sound of the crack of a bat can be heard in the distance. This means only one thing: baseball season is approaching, and with it comes the latest entry in the 2K baseball series, Major League Baseball 2K11. Now, it's been a while since I've spent time with a baseball game (MLB: The Show 06 on the PSP specifically). So you could say I was looking forward to seeing what MLB 2K11 had to offer. While I wasn't always pleased with what I found, MLB 2K11 is a lot better than it probably should be.
I decided to start by dissecting the pitching. After all, Roy Halladay is on the cover of the game. Long gone are the days of pressing face buttons to throw your pitch to the desired location. Instead, you gesture the right analog stick, in a similar fashion to performing circle rotations in fighting games, in order to perform your desired pitch. Obviously, a fastball and a change-up are a lot easier to pull off than a slider or circle change; pitches with more movement require more gesturing. The potency of your pitch depends on how well you perform this gesture. Should you do a poor job of doing the slider's desired movement, you risk hanging it and watching the batter crush it over the wall.
While the pitching controls may seem daunting at first, they perform extraordinarily well and are one of the more enjoyable parts of the game. You're rewarded for doing well and punished for doing poorly, as if you would be if you were actually pitching. Should you start to give up hits and runs, you'll lose your composure, and unless you call for a managerial visit to the mound, you'll lose the ability to precisely locate your pitches; your controller rumbles, the target dot shakes, and you lose power and accuracy on your pitches. Again, just like a real pitcher would.
Hitting, however, is an entirely different story. I can sum it up in one word: frustrating. You'll have the option of using true stick controls, meaning you can swing with the right analog stick and aim your bat with the left analog stick, or the classic control, where you simply hit A to swing. Still, the biggest issue with hitting is the precision and timing. Look, I know that getting a base hit in the major leagues his hard, but I'm not in the major leagues. You do have the option to make it easier to get contact on the ball, but then at times it feels too easy.
Oddly enough, this issue only persists when playing against the AI. Playing against human opponents is not only much more forgiving, but also much more fun. You see, the computer is unrelentless, stringing off hit after hit despite your perfect pitch placement, or painting every corner with precision and accuracy. Obviously, human opponents will rarely ever be this good and the game is a lot more manageable and enjoyable. I still felt like I was pitching against C.C. Sabathia, but it was a lot easier to learn the human player's habits.
One of the new features in MLB 2K11 is Dynamic Player Rating System (DPRS). Let's say that Josh Beckett is on an absolute tear on the mound over the past month, having thrown four perfect games in a row. His in-game stats will be raised based off his actual real-life performance, adding to the sense of unknown that always occurs in a Major League Baseball season (who expected Jose Bautista to hit 50+ home runs last year?) In addition, should someone spend the entire month hitless, that stat will also be reflected in game; their performance will slip.