Major League Baseball 2K11 Review for PC

Major League Baseball 2K11 Review for PC

Out Of The Park?

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.

Major League Baseball 2K11 Screenshot

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.

Major League Baseball 2K11 Screenshot

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.

Major League Baseball 2K11 Screenshot

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.

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.

Major League Baseball 2K11 Screenshot

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.

While the player models replicate their real life counterparts, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re good. 4.0 Control
Pitching and fielding control smoothly; hitting is frustrating. 3.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Commentating is repetitive and awful, despite the talent present. The soundtrack is forgettable. 4.0 Play Value
Online play is fun, and My Player is strangely addictive. 3.5 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Dynamic Player Ratings – Watch your favorite MLB pitcher strike out the side in a real game, then watch his stats improve in your game. Dynamic Player Ratings update daily in MLB Today, Franchise, and My Player.
  • Revamped Fielding System – Completely revamped fielding system, featuring improved AI, throwing meters, and landing indicators to give you more control to run down a fly ball or make the play at the plate.
  • My Player mode – Guide your player through the Minor Leagues and into the history books with an improved My Player mode.
  • MLB Today – Stay up-to-date on the latest happenings in Major League Baseball, with timely play-by-play commentary and stat overlays pulled from real life news and box scores.
  • Total Control Pitching & Hitting – The battle at the plate comes to life in the palms of your hands. Paint the corners with pinpoint accuracy on the mound, and then fight off nasty sliders until you get the pitch you’re looking for at the plate.
  • New player models – Amazing attention to detail captures every intricacy of the game. Enjoy completely rebuilt player models for Major League authenticity like never before.

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