MLB 2K11 Review
Let’s be honest. MLB: The Show has really taken the spotlight by taking an innovative approach to what had become a very stagnant field for many years. At the same time, MLB 2K11 has been fighting to rival The Show with its marketing ploys and significant improvements from what the 2K series used to offer in a baseball game. However, despite the $1,000,000 you could win for throwing a no hitter and the strong improvements to the game from years past, MLB 2K11 is still hitting below average compared to the competition.
MLB 2K11 has an all too familiar look, presenting the user with all the “usual” modes. Play Now, Franchise, Post Season and Home Run Derby are all back. In addition to the norm, you will also find an improved My Player mode which allows you to create your own player and shape him into the hall of famer of your dreams. Starting off in the minor leagues, you are put into different situations that are commonly experienced in real baseball games. You will hit, field and base run for skill points that allow you to better your player in different categories such as power, contact, arm strength and catching. (Just to name a few.) There are also goals you must achieve before the big leagues call you up. You have to meet certain goals such as high batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentage before you are even considered to be one of the elite in the majors. Is it monotonous? Yes. “Leveling up” your player takes time. But is it fun? You better believe it. Most of us had Major League dreams when we were kids, and most of us ended up living out our once hopeful dreams through video games. This is one mode that gives us justice and lets us achieve our dreams without any athletic ability at all.
Looking for a satisfying online baseball experience? MLB 2K11 has it. You can play with friends and play with online friends within the Play Now mode. Ranked matches or not, MLB 2K11 offers the bare essentials of online play, but everything works well and it is extremely simple to find someone to play if you don’t want to go up against your old friend, the computer.
For the most part, MLB 2K11 does deliver some solid baseball action, but more at a minor league level. Sure, you buy the tickets, grab a hamburger and beer, and get to watch America’s favorite past time in a beautiful stadium. It’s good, it is fun, but it is no Yankee Stadium or (enter favorite ball park) experience. That being said, the visuals are still gorgeous. There is no other way to put it. The scenic ball parks and the attention to player details such as their faces and uniforms were masterful, and players of the game should have no problem with that. However, there are some tweaks that don’t particularly work well and are extremely frustrating especially when first starting to play.
The controls, for the most part, are very easy to use and are a welcomed addition to the 2K brand. Most of your controls, hitting and pitching, have been moved to the right analog stick. For hitting, it is absolutely the right thing to do. It is very smooth, and it is simple to switch between contact swings, power swings and defensive swings. In hitting situations, it is nice to have something that works a little bit quicker, so you have a chance to change the type of swing in mid pitch. In the past, when using buttons for hitting, this was hard to accomplish.
While the batting controls make you feel like Hank Aaron at the plate, the pitching controls will make you wish you could just go back to tee ball. (Those were the days.) The problems arise when we take pitching to the right analog stick. There is definitely going to be a learning curve for anyone even the most experienced players. Based on what pitch you choose, you have to rotate the analog stick in a certain way to control the pitch’s rotation and power. In theory, this is one way to make the game more realistic, but when playing, it is too difficult to get the hang of. You’ll find that practicing pitching and getting a feel for it is the only way to truly understand how to pitch. And in a sports title such as this, you shouldn’t have to teach yourself how to pitch. It should be a “pick up and play” type game, and MLB 2K11 dropped the ball on this.
Other problems arise with the artificial intelligence of your teammates. A lot of situations you encounter in baseball take teamwork to accomplish an out or to save the other team from scoring a run. For example, when throwing a wild pitch with a base runner on third base, the player closest to the ball should be the one to go after it. However, on numerous occasions, the pitcher would be the closest, run right past the ball just to cover home plate. While it is good the A.I. realizes he needs to cover home, he does not realize that it is ever so important to have the baseball. This and many other situations can sometimes make or break a victory for your team, and the A.I. needs to be in place to help you as much as possible, and it wasn’t at all consistent.
When you aren’t throwing your controller in frustration over the pitching controls, you might actually enjoy MLB 2K11. The 2K series offers a quality title and is moving in the right direction with their baseball games, but haven’t yet perfected the formula like competitors are starting to do. Overall, it is still a unique baseball experience, but unfortunately, after playing it for a little while, you will want an improved product. Let’s hope for something even better in 2012.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]