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Major League Baseball 2K11 Review

With a fervent amount of critical acclaim and an impressive amount of polish garnered across its eleven year lifecycle, the MLB: The Show franchise is the interactive equivalent of the New York Yankees. Love them or hate them- the games consistently deliver an undeniably well-developed, offensive force which appears poised to win this season’s sales race. Likewise, rival Visual Concept’s MLB 2K series could be compared to the 2010 Texas Rangers- while coming off one of the best seasons in recent memory, the title was humbled by a tendency for troublesome errors.

While Major League Baseball 2K11 has clearly made some improvements in the off-season, the title remains an underdog against Sony’s formidable juggernaut. Most noticeable are the augmentations made to the game’s vigorous control scheme, which for the past four seasons, have required players to deliver increasingly intricate Street Fighter II-like stick sweeps. Although last year it was fairly easy to get the stitched leather sphere past AI players, the difficulty of pitching has been ratcheted up, with computer controlled batters vigilantly resisting anything on the far fringes. The enduring mechanic of throwing to the outside corners has been remedied by adding a bit of ambiguity to the strike zone and allowing the man on the mound to be spooked. Once the bases fill, expect your control to emit a disorienting rumble, while your aiming cursor trembles nervously.

Once at the plate, players are given a choice of two distinctive battling control schemes. A classic mode merely requires an astutely timed press of the A button, while gesture-based hitting entails aiming with the left stick, as the right analog peg is snapped to initiate a contact, power, or defensive swing. Both pitching and battling will be affected by 2K11‘s Dynamic Player Rating System (DRPS), which gives a statistical boost or reduction based on the each players real-world performance. When combined with the game’s MLB Today component, the system draws data from the last four weeks of an athlete’s performance, supplementing the game with timely real-world influenced commentary.

Although fielding was purported to be given a significant overhaul, I only noticed some faint tweaks. This season players have to be a bit more accurate in balancing the strength and accuracy of their throws; nailing those double plays now feels like a minor achievement. Now, a player’s prowess affects both their reach radius and animation routines- so rookie fielders are likely to make highlight-reel ready diving catches.

Regrettably, MLB 2K11‘s gameplay mode have only received  nominal changes. While the title’s Franchise component allows players to direct minor league divisions and expands the command of player injuries, it feels remarkably similar to last season’s mode. Likewise, the career trajectory of My Player only benefits from additional ways to earn experience points. Arguably, the game’s most significant modification is the incorporation of additional sliders, which grants players the ability to fine-tune the difficulty of each element of the game.

While the developers have quashed many of the bugs and glitches that beset last season’s game, a number of oddities persist. Any illusion of recreated a major-league game is spoiled when AI athletes behave like inattentive t-ball players. From teammates who collide with a wall while attempting to glove upper deck fouls to basemen who show little interest in protecting the bag, gamers are likely to witness some outlandish behavior. Visually, the game still contains a number of unpolished elements, ranging from framerate drops to repetitive motion-captured animations. Although the three-man commentary team of Steve Phillips, Gary Thorne, and John Kruk provide some clever chatter, some of the dialog from 2K10 has been reused.

Despite Major League Baseball 2K11‘s enhancements, a number of small but cumulative blemishes prohibit the title from vying for MLB: The Show‘s established dominance. Ideally, Visual Concepts should sidestep the pressure to turn out a slightly revamped iteration to coincide with next season’s opening day, and rebuild their franchise from the ground up. Doing so would put the studio in the best position to dethrone the reigning champion and establish their own near-impervious dynasty.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

26 comments

  1. Angry Gamer Eddy

    bout damn time!

    First.

  2. Am I the only one who thinks MLB The Show and 2K are both about the same?

    They each have their +’s and -‘s. The controls are almost the same. Graphics too.

  3. I was thinking about picking up the Show, but I can wait for a price drop. Last year I got it for $29.99 like a month after release.

  4. did they fix the online? Last year it was all laggy and shit. You couldn’t really play.

    I know everyone was pissed on the 2K site about it.

  5. baseball is my least favorite sport. If I’m gonna play a game it’s going to be like the Bigs or something.

  6. Bring back Baseball Simulator 1.000

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baseball_Simulator_1.000

    That game was the best baseball game ever.

  7. If you think the graphics are the same, you might need to get some new glasses.

  8. Yep, same deal here.

  9. I also like the Bigs. I guess baseball sims aren’t my thing.

  10. Well the graphics look sharp at least.

  11. Culture Brain. YEAH!

  12. Why can’t 2K get their baseball on the same level as their hoops game?

  13. San Quentin's Finest

    pretty good review. I been playing for a few week now, and feel the same. It’s good but it should have been better. Plus there’s all kinds of crazy glitches. Like my player went all invisable and all I could see what the bat swinging.

  14. good review. Except the Ranger made it to the series- did the Yankees? Hell no!

  15. Yeah, but the comparison works. Vladimir Guerrero dropped the ball twice and Ranger setting World Series error records. Thats 2K11.

  16. C+ is about right.

  17. But in motion….oh my eyes!

  18. Midnight Beater

    Deagle, you do sports games too?

  19. yep, I like the Power Pro series the best.

  20. Bo Knows Gaming

    I’d give it a B-. The campaign mode is sooooo addictive. But yeah the bugs suck.

  21. I have the Show and love it. Simply put this years game is the best baseball game I have ever played.

  22. Does 2K plan on offering patches for the game or will they just let all he glitches stay?

  23. Never played that one. Now you have me interested.

  24. Another Disgusting Username

    I’m downloading the demo on XBLA. Unless I see a good sale, I can’t wait until Sept. for this one.

  25. I hear 2K11 is nothing but a strikeout.

  26. Yeah, I wish they brought a PS3 version over here.