Published on March 12th, 2011 | by Kyle Spencer, Editor
Major League Baseball 2K11 Review
Major League Baseball 2K11
Developer: 2K Sports
Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [Reviewed], Wii, DS, Playstation 2, Playstation Portable, PC
Release: March 8, 2011
It’s spring time and we all know what that means. It is baseball season and this year 2K is looking to reinstate the franchise that has been lackluster over the past few years. In a genre that Sony has seemed to grasp and master year after year this year the MLB 2K11 team has gone back and redid some mechanics that previous versions have failed on. How did 2K do to address the many concerns of their fans?
For starters, the game is beautiful. All the players look authentic and are truly representative of each player. From the looks of the players, to the way they stand in the batters box, you truly feel like you have control of your favorite players. The stadiums have all been upgraded as well. Each camera angle is a true representation of the atmosphere of each teams ball parks. When there is a game taking place, the stadium almost takes on a life of itself. The crowd will react to home runs or foul balls, sometimes fight for ownership of the collector’s items. I do find it a little odd that a couple fans will fight over a baseball while all the other fans will sit and clap like there is nothing else happening.
(Perfect example of the leaps from last year’s version)
Animations are very fluid and truly representative of the players. They used full motion caps to capture players movements and expressions to make the players feel authentic. Players will react to the flow of the game, and emotions can now be seen on the faces of the players. Hit “Big Pappi” with a pitch and watch those lips tighten in disgust.
The past few years 2K has had a hard time nailing the game controls. AI was always a problem as well. AI pitchers will not have a strong control to their throws as in past versions, and will actually try to get you to chase a lot re pitches and play to the count. If you are the type of player that likes to swing at 99% of the pitches, this game will play very slow. This is more of a baseball fans game than a gamers game. This is truly intended for fans of America’s favorite pastime and this is where MLB 2K11 hits a home run in.
(Yes it looks this good!)
Pitching has always been one of the series strongest mechanics and MLB 2K11 holds no punches. All the pitches are performed using the analog sticks while a circular indicator over the plate will deliver the strength of each pitch. When you are aiming for a spot that the game considers the strike zone, your controller will vibrate. The anologe approach this year works very well and takes on a Street Fighter approach. Each kind of pitch offers different variations on how to throw them. For example, throwing a curve ball has the player do a half circle, left pull with the sticks. When you take to the mound you will be given a series of different pitches to choose from. The catcher will always give you a sign for a pitch he would recommend throwing but ultimately the choice is yours. Each pitcher is different and offers up their own unique variations of the pitches. Some can throw them easier than others. Each pitch has two specific movements from the time you pull back, until the time you come forward to throw the pitch.
Major League Baseball 2K11 takes on a impressive new game mechanic that I am surprised it hasn’t done until now. Stat tracking has been given a dramatic update, because now the game will pull real life stats from today’s pitchers and thrust those stats into the game. MLB 2K11 is consistently updating with real time stats. MLB Today will also update your franchise teams and players on a regular basis. When the game first started up you were given an option to play a couple of Spring Training games that were taking place already on that particular day.
The return of pitching that perfect game for a million dollars makes it’s annual return. Last year saw a guy win the million off of a spur of the moment pick up, but this year with the re-vamped system, pitching that perfect game will take quite a while longer.
MLB 2K11’s online is pretty solid and will keep you playing long after the games release. With the inclusion of MLB today, you can jump into any game that is currently taking place in real time, and the stats of the players in the real time games will effect their respective digital counterparts in the game itself, thus effecting the gameplay. Creating a character is back as well, and you can create your own ball player and take them from the minor league ranks to the big leagues. In franchise mode. This is the game mode I found most enjoyable, seeing as how it actually made me feel like a baseball player taking the field. I have noticed some small freezing issues in the online “vs” modes, and instances where I saw my runner reach first base, warp to second base, and back again in a matter of two second. Aside from that the online functions very well and features very few hiccups.
The Final Truth:
Major League Baseball 2K11 is a giant step up in the series from past iterations. Even though the newly revamped pitching system will either please fans or steer them away, 2K11 is the first game in years to match Sony’s counterpart MLB 11: The Show. There are some minor flaws in the game, but nothing that is game changing or that will turn you off, but go into this years version knowing that this is for Baseball fans. Think of 2K11 as a baseball sim, much like Forza is a racing sim. Batting and fielding works very well, and fans of the sport will love the addition of MLB Today. This is what all sports game should do going forward, and while NBA 2K11 did some of this, it would be nice to see EA take note of this and implement this into their Madden and NCAA franchises. 2K11 was an impressive jump forward adn the fact that 2K was listening to the fans complaints from past iterations makes us excited as to what will come next.
[xrr label=”Rating: 8/10″ rating=8/10]
+ Smooth Animations
+ Solid Graphics
+ Pitching Mechanic Works well
+ MLB Today
– Online hiccups
– “Blocky” fans in the stand
– Lesser know players did not receive the same graphical treatment as the well know players