Major League Baseball 2K10 - 360 - Review
When it happens once, it can be brushed off … after all, mistakes happen.
When it happens no less than five times, all within the space of a month (in the career mode – aka, an afternoon of intense gaming), the first reaction is disbelief, followed by some baseball-based epithets, and then the AI is questioned.
Come on – Julio Lugo has been playing in the Major Leagues for 10 years; he certainly is not so thick-headed as to try to steal second base when a teammate is standing there and no double-steal signs have been put on.
And yet Lugo will do that. The only way to get him to stop is to boost skills and career numbers and then move up in the batting lineup, but even then there are problems. For example, in some worlds being assigned to AA is the start of the progression to Triple-A and then The Show. Not in Major League Baseball 2K10. From Double-A it’s straight to the Majors (this varies depending on the position of the player created). And there is not slow build-up of playing time. The career player is an everyday starter (as a position player) in the field – immediately. Ok, so this is fantasy baseball – allowances have to be made. Make contact, boost that batting average and move up to hit second in the lineup.
That’s drool-time for a Cardinal rookie. The opposition has to pitch to the rookie if for no other reason than Albert Pujols hits third and Ryan Ludwick is in the clean-up slot. So the pitches are there and once the stroke is found, and timing is down, the rookie starts to light it up, finding the alleys in the outfield and knocking out doubles.
Cool! Runner in scoring position with one out and Pujols coming to the plate. Sure, the opposition can walk him, but that brings up Ludwick, who can do some damage when he makes contact (his OPS – on-base plus slugging percentage – was .936 in 2008 and .668 in 2009; baseball is all about percentages, as any true fan will attest to). However, for some odd reason, about 70% of the time Pujols will stand there, bat on shoulder, watch pitches go by without swinging once and get chalked up as a strikeout. And if Pujols K’s, Ludwick will do the same.
The career mode is new to MLB 2K10, and it has some flaws. Some of those are notable in the controls, which – though – also have some sparkling moments. Positioning the created player is extremely limited and it is only after accruing points (earned through gameplay accomplishments – like an assist on defense nets 25 points) and raising skills that some elements get much easier – which is not a complaint. But the AI does not seem all that intelligent. And the game seems to fail to recognize achievements.
Brought up a month-and-a-half into the season, the rookie goes on to hit .407 with 12 dingers, about 70 RBIs, doesn’t make a fielding error and fails to be named the NL Rookie of the year. Knowing the game won’t see those accomplishments is all the fodder needed to completely blow off each of the goals thrown up prior to an instance involving the created player and just go up to bat hacking. After all, it’s rather hard to get ahead in the count when the opposing pitcher is throwing nothing but fastballs straight down the middle of the strike zone. Trust me on that one – my rookie took three of them waiting to get ahead in the count. On base, it’s hard to pull off a hit and run when the batter either strikes out of flies out.
Want another sign that the AI is lacking? Ok. Runner on third, one out. Career player is told to score the run. Gets a decent pitch and lofts a fly ball to center-right field. Outfield drifts over, makes the catch and chucks the ball in to the pitcher. The runner on third went down the line, then retreated and stayed at third. Hmm … ever hear of tagging up and scoring on the sac fly?
While the new career mode needs help (and yep, it took SCEA’s The Show a few seasons to fine tune and get it to the place it is now), there are elements of 2K10 that are well done. For those who have never played, the right thumbstick controls the swing of the bat; up is for a normal swing, back and up is for power – but don’t try that until the power of the batter has been improved – through points put in, not some cyber ‘human growth hormone. ‘ That is a fun and entertaining element. The pitching takes some practice to get down, and fielding is generally intuitive.
The game can be tailored to individual players using a series of sliders that will impact most facets of the game. Those can’t be taken online, of course. Speaking of online, Visual Concepts has online ranked matches and online league play for those craving stepping outside the confines of single-player campaigns. Expect, though, lag in online games – it seemed to be part of every game played – and no, it wasn’t the seventh-inning lag, it was all over the place. For the single player, there is an MLB Today option that allows for playing through the real MLB season as it takes place.
While the visuals are generally very bright and well implemented, there are some clipping elements and other assorted swings-and-a-miss elements that can spoil the overall effect. Player ball caps that stick out about two inches off the back of heads is almost laughable. And on a couple of occasions in the career mode, there seemed to be a Cardinals’ coach standing midway up the first-base line when the Cardinals were on defense. The audio presentation is solid. The musical score is too repetitive, but the announcing trio is solid.
Some of the other changes to the game include the aforementioned tweaks to the pitching (the right thumbstick is used in a variety of ways to make the pitch, such as down and up – using a meter – for a fastball, or up and clockwise, or to 4 o’clock on the meter and then … well, it goes on and on), and some of the field play, though streamlined, seems a tad too quick. It is often easier for the second baseman to field a grounder and try to turn the double-play himself than relay it to the shortstop covering second for the relaying throw to first.
Still, though, Major League Baseball 2K10, despite some of the problems, is a decent baseball game on the 360 (*cough* … can you say ONLY MLB game on the 360 that is true to the season? *cough*) and the deficiencies are not hard to overlook. Get past those and there is an enjoyable game underneath that is challenging and entertaining.
Review Scoring Details for Major League Baseball 2K10
Sliders make all the difference in the way the single-player games are realized, but the look, camera element, controls and feel of the game is solid.
Great environments, and the animations are – for the most part – decent. There are some odd animations at times, plus there are clipping problems and some of the players don’t quite look like MLB counterparts – and ball caps have a fitting problem.
Announcing is solid, music is decent and ambient sounds are average.
Work needs to be done on the career mode, but MLB Today is solid and fun. Give Visual Concepts props, though, for the tweaks and overall improvement in the quality of the game.
You can find games, but you will also find lag.
In the past, the 2K series was hampered by a lot of little things. The developers obviously put a lot of time in improving the overall gameplay and it shows. The new modes are fun but need some attention to iron out bugs, and there are some areas where the errors are just downright contrary to the game of baseball. On the surface, baseball seems a simple game, but to the baseball fan, the layers of complexity are what create that overall feeling that is Major League Baseball. A few errors are made here, but the series has, nonetheless, been reinvigorated.