|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|
Visual Concepts was devoted to realism when developing this game. Player models look like the players themselves (I had to double check to make sure Jayson Werth shaved his beard). They also play like the players actually do...for the most part. I expect Jacoby Ellsbury to beat out infield singles and a double play attempt. I do not expect David Ortiz, who looks way too thin, to do that. I'd also expect a game with the promise of so much integration between the league and the game itself to stay up to date, yet Vladimir Guerrero is still listed as a free agent. I'd also expect the minor league stadiums to look like they actually do, as there are some really beautiful ones. Yet, each seems to have the exact same design. This is the biggest issue that MLB 2K11 faces: for every good thing it does, it does two things wrong.
Another example of this is the two game modes: My Player and Franchise. Back again this year, My Player throws you into the role of a top draft pick on the team of your choice as you make your way through the minor leagues and, eventually, the big leagues. My Player is more fun than it should be. While playing field positions isn't always fun, it's a new take on how to play a baseball video game and the situational hitting scenarios add extra suspense to each game. You have a personal investment as you play, and it was something I came back to play over and over again.
The game's franchise mode, however, is a completely lackluster affair, devoid of any personality. It comes in, gets the job done, and leaves. While the ability to manage every minor league affiliate is nice, it's nothing new; Franchise mode really needs to be next on 2K's "to-do list." In addition, for a game that previously stressed such realism, I'd like to know 1.) why they simulated the Kansas City Royals winning the AL Central, and 2.) why they put Carl Crawford, someone who has repeatedly said that he does not want to bat leadoff, in that particular role. One step forward, two steps back.
Player models are unique and do a good job representing their real life counterparts. Yet, that doesn't mean they look good. The graphics engine is showing some signs off age here, and while the stadiums look great, players and animations are, at times, a bit off. The commentating, however, is another story. While Gary Thorne, John Kruk, and Steve Phillips (who no longer works for ESPN, mind you) do a good job of adding their own flair, they have a nasty tendency to repeat lines of dialogue constantly and are ultimately more of an annoying than anything. Still, even they're better than the game's menus, featuring the same old tired and rusty 2K menu presentation and, for whatever reason, menu navigation via the right analog stick. I honestly don't get why I can't hit start to pull up the menus, like every other game in the world. It's clunky, it's weird, and I'm never going to get used to it.
As much as I liked about Major League Baseball 2K11 (playing online and playing through My Player), I found even more that I didn't like (commentary, menus, bugs and glitches, frustrating AI). I enjoy the promise of the MLB integration, whether it's the updated scores every time I log into the game or the DRPS affecting my in-game roster and stats. But ultimately, MLB 2K11 is its own worst enemy, keeping it from being a great sports game and, once again, second fiddle to the MLB: The Show franchise.
CCC Freelance Writer