MLB doesn’t knock it out of the park, but it doesn’t strike out either
MLB 2K6 made a lot of missteps when it debuted on Xbox 360 last year. Kush games must have paid attention to the complaints about the last game, because they’ve definitely made improvements. Although Major League Baseball 2K7 still isn’t the best baseball game on the market, it has still made strides to become a decent ballplaying experience.
Major League Baseball 2K7 has a lot of features to try to simulate the game of baseball as accurately as possible. One example is in the pitching. Before the throw, the player has to designate an area where he wants the pitch to go, then press a button to determine speed and another button press focuses the accuracy. The catcher tries to lead the direction of the pitch, and for the most part, he does a good job, although not always. The pitchers also usually get tired quickly, even despite their stamina ratings.
On the batting end of the spectrum there are a few ways that you can hit. You can bat by a simple button press, or you can pull on the analog stick to bat. The PS3 version also has the option of allowing the player to tilt the Sixaxis to bat, although this method is awkward since it doesn’t feel intuitive and doesn’t add to the batting experience at all. It feels tacked on as a way to force Sixaxis motion into the gameplay.
The fielding in the game is fairly well done. The setup of the buttons corresponds to the base, so after the ball is caught, a touch of a button determines where the ball is thrown. There is also the option to throw to the cutoff man with the touch of the trigger button. This year, the outfielders are much more responsive and move quicker, so fielding as a whole is a much more enjoyable experience.
Visually, the game looks great. Most of the character models are very detailed and resemble their true-life counterparts with few exceptions. The player animations are all realistic, and the Signature Style helps the players feel more their actual doppelganger. Each player has the same batting stance, movements, and celebrations as the person they represent. This extends also to their uniform, as the uniforms fit as their supposed to, with loose and tight fits on the appropriate players. Although it doesn’t seem as thorough as NBA 2K7’s Signature Style, it still adds a nice touch to gameplay when the player can recognize a person simply because of their movements and mannerisms.
Major League Baseball 2K7 also sounds great. All of the sound effects are well implemented and in place, and the commentary between Jon Miller and Joe Morgan is very well done and interesting to listen to. There is also a decent soundtrack with lots of different tracks to listen to.
Beyond simple exhibition games, Major League Baseball 2K7 offers quite a few different modes of play. Obviously the player has the option to play a quick game of baseball in addition to season games and franchise mode. Franchise mode is pretty in-depth, allowing the player to set ticket prices, decide trades, negotiate contracts, and keep an eye on the mood of your players. The player can also play career, manager challenge, and home run derby.
As always, Major League Baseball 2K7 comes with a lot of online options too. The player can play in ranked and unranked matches and even start or participate in a league game with up to thirty teams. However, the online gameplay can become laggy at times, which makes the game both unfair and unfun.
In addition to the noticeable lag in online games, MLB does have its fair share of problems. There is an unusual amount of clipping when players collide during plays, as sometimes baserunners can clip into the fielders. The framerate is also slow, especially for a next-gen game. The fielders sometimes have problems catching or picking up the ball in the outfield, which can obviously lead to some unnecessary scoring from the opposing team, scoring that occurs not because of bad choices but because of bad programming.
All in all, Major League Baseball 2K7 is a pretty good baseball game with a few noticeable flaws. It hasn’t quite caught up to its 2K Sports brothers, but it is definitely a step in the right direction. Lovers of America’s favorite pastime may enjoy picking up this title, but for others, it may be a hit or miss situation.