Review: Major League Baseball 2K10


From staff reports:

It seems like an eternity since EA Sports stopped making Major League Baseball titles, leaving gamers to decide between MLB The Show (if one has PS3), or the 2K games.

That’s meant an absolute disaster for XBox gamers, who’ve had only the 2K series to turn to each spring.

Every year, lovers of baseball and video games put the disk in their systems hoping it’ll be the year 2K finally breaks through and produces a game that’s both playable and engaging. And every year, it seems, the game is better than the previous year but never quite hits a home run.

Major League Baseball 2K10 shows the game’s designers are working hard to shake their reputation for warning-track ability.

For starters, the game looks beautiful. From the lifelike way players slow-jog to the dugout between innings to the shadows that gently encroach across the infield during twilight games, MLB 2K10 feels like baseball through and through.

Stadium details are richer than ever; in HD, it’s as if you can see individual blades of grass. The players are exquisitely rendered, and their relative ratings seem authentic and perfectly believable.

But professional baseball is about the long and arduous grind, and for a baseball title to be successful, it needs to feel crisp and dynamic enough to make you want to play 163 games as well as a postseason.

This year, MLB 2K10 introduces a full spring training season to help you get ready for Opening Day. That’s cool. What’s not cool is how all of spring training is played in the same ball park. That gets old after a dozen games, almost ensuring you’ll want to sim up to the start of the regular season.

There, the game does an excellent job of creating the intensity and feel of big-time professional sports.

The pitching model of precisely gesturing with the right stick is exactly the same as the last year. But the new bells and whistles gave me fits trying to hit the ball. My experience in franchise mode left all but the hottest hitters in my lineup struggling to keep their averages above the Mendoza line.

Last year’s title made it excruciatingly difficult to swipe a bag on the basepaths, and clearly the designers tried to address that. Baserunning in this year’s game seems to give one a fighting chance to steal with a good jump.

The pitchers’ moves to first and second are incredibly sharp and realistic. Some hurlers demonstrate deadly deception to the bases and, after getting picked off a few times, you learn to keep your lead-off close until you’ve seen the guy come to the bag a few times. And, as in real life, a few pitchers have haplessly slow moves or awkward double-toe touches that make you lick your chops and ensure that anyone you get on base will soon be in scoring position.

Knowing you have to scout for subtle but crucial signs makes MLB 2K10 a magnificently better simulation than its predecessors.

The My Player mode is a direct response to MLB The Show, allowing you to create a player and develop his skills from Double A until he’s good enough to play in the big leagues. It’s easy to hate playing in the same two stadiums for three weeks of calendar.

Offense in My Player is a blast. Facing top Major League pitchers with a young hitter can get downright futile. But since you’re playing vicariously through your created player, you’re responsible for his spot in the lineup.

Whiff with two outs and bases loaded in the ninth, it’s your fault. Hit a two run single to tie the game late, lots of fun. It feels competitive and intense.

Defense in My Player, as in other game modes, leaves much to be desired. In short, it’s boring. The game leads user-controlled defenders toward the right play way too much.

While playing shortstop in the field, I was never called upon to turn a double-play, only to start them by grabbing clean bounces to my position and tossing balls uneventfully to the correct bag. Your most important defensive action is releasing the button at the right time to avoid an overthrow.

This year’s MLB offering from 2K shows it might be a mistake to give up on this franchise, even after years of disappointment. As playable as this game is, you get the sense the designers of this title are getting really close to hitting one out of the park.

Major League Baseball 2K10
Multiple platforms
2K Sports
Rated E for Everyone