It is a new year and of course another baseball game is being released by the dependable 2K Sports. With the season already a week or so in, people are donning the ball caps and sipping their own overpriced drinks at home as they pop in MLB 2K11 into their game systems. This year 2K Sports have chosen to put Roy Halladay on the game cover, which is a nicely analogous choice for this review.
Halladay has been around for awhile in the major leagues, and though everyone has come to expect dominance from him whether he plays for the Blue Jays or the Phillies, he still manages a surprise now and again. Last year he delivered a perfect game, but this year, who knows? Will he break down? Will he go back to being simply dependable? Every year people ask the same questions of their favorite sports video game titles. Is 2K11 going to be groundbreaking, more of the same, or (gulp) the end of the road in quality?
One of the newest features of the series is the dynamic player updating. No longer content with outdated, static player ratings, 2K11 now revises player skills and rankings as the real life Major League Baseball season progresses. If one is connected to the internet, the game will update once a user begins playing 2K11. It’s a pretty neat addition in that no longer will one see someone like, say, Mike Stanton wade through mediocrity if he has a big rookie season. On the flipside, one may have a hard time getting no-name players to do miraculous feats if their skill levels continue to decrease due to a real life lack of playing time.
Another interesting feature is the revamped fielding system. In 2K10 the fielding system was a little clunky given the default sliders, but now it seems to be more agreeable. Players are given a location in the form of a circle for their player to scoot to when a ball is in play. Once the ball is caught, users utilize an arm strength meter to throw the ball with velocity and accuracy. Like free throws in basketball games or field goals in some old football games, the timing of a throw measure can mean the difference between a put out and a wild throw.
The My Player mode continues to give users an entertaining chance to start a new ballplayer at the Double-A level and move up the ranks through gameplay and at bat goals. Given the length of a baseball season it can be a bit tedious to play every game for just a few segments of active play, but to each their own. As in 2K10, perhaps it is best to play as a pitcher to accelerate the season a little more quickly than as an every day batter.
The controls, as usual, are widely varied depending on the situation. Batting is simple in design with a typical choice of a regular swing versus a power swing. However, it is the timing of connecting with pitches that will prove to be the most challenging for gamers. A general tip is that if the ball looks like it is just about over the plate it is still too early to swing. Otherwise, one will find oneself ahead of too many 90+ mph fastballs.
Pitching, on the other hand, is much more complicated in its demands for a perfect pitch. One has to first select a pitch by following a particular stick maneuver. After this is accomplished as best as possible, one is then asked to time the strength of their pitch with a sort of expanding polygon. During these pitch setups, the user is asked to keep the baseball cursor in the correct section of the catcher’s mitt to make sure that the pitch is spotted accurately. Needless to say, a new player of the game will likely be lit up for repeatedly before getting pitching down effectively.
In conclusion, 2K11 is a fine game that continues with its excellence in gameplay. Like Roy Halladay, it is a game that one can dependably get their kicks playing as real life ballplayers, while continuing to be impressed by the graphics and playing modes that one looks for in a baseball game. It is doubtful that anything resembling an astounding perfect game will be found in the new features, so spending money on an upgrade over 2K10 may not be entirely necessary. However, 2K11 proves that 2K Sports continues to be successful with one of the stronger baseball game franchises available.
MLB 2K11 is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for Mild Lyrics. This game can also be found on: DS, PC, PS2, PS3, PSP, and the Wii.