In case you didn’t already know, we’re huge baseball fans here at gordtep.com. We’re also pretty passionate video game enthusiasts. With that said, every spring, we’re not just craving baseball, but we’re also anxiously awaiting the annual release from the MLB 2K series. Since the demo was available this morning on XBox Live, I am now prepared to give my first impressions of this year’s game.
Before we get into 2K11, I think some background is in order. I’ve been playing baseball video games dating back to the early 1980s on the Atari system. So without further ado, you get a bonus in this blog: My Top 10 Baseball Video Games
- BASEBALL STARS, NES, 1989
- MLB 2K8, XBOX 360, 2008
- MVP BASEBALL, PS2, 2005
- BASES LOADED, NES, 1988
- HARDBALL, C64, 1985
- EARL WEAVER BASEBALL, PC, 1987
- HARDBALL 5, PC, 1996
- TRIPLE PLAY BASEBALL, PC, 2000
- R.B.I. BASEBALL, NES, 1987
- ALL STAR BASEBALL 2005, XBOX, 2004
Yeah, Kev would say it’s blasphemous that I ranked RBI Baseball so low on my list. It was groundbreaking because it was the first NES game to use real players, but I preferred playing all the ones ranked ahead of it for one reason or another.
So here’s the quick and dirty review.
It doesn’t exactly knock my socks off.
From the demo, it’s just “meh.” If the actual game allows, I’ll probably get a different camera. I just never really got into that “catcher’s perspective” view that World Series Baseball introduced in the mid 90s. If I can change that, maybe I can just go with the standard broadcast, behind-the-pitcher view. The analog hitting controls don’t really do much for me either, so I’m switching to basic which lets me time the swing better. It seems to eliminate the power swing — not sure if that means anything. Maybe it just hits home runs if you time a pitch perfectly, with the right hitter, in the right situation? Whatever. Hitting seems to be OK on the surface, I guess. I’d need to play with it some more and see how the results turn out.
The analog pitching is complete crap. The pitch selection, followed by the gesture is so dumb. Why not one or the other? I won’t really hold this against them though because it lets you switch back to classic controls very easily, and those work just fine.
I’ll hand it to them on this. The fielding felt like it was much improved. It also allows for analog or classic controls on the throwing. My preference was actually the analog here. Kudos, 2K, you got something right.
I’m not even talking about frame rate or any of that here (though that seems pretty smooth to be honest). What I want is to be able to skip all the worthless cut scenes and random nonsense that prevents me from completing a game in 15-20 minutes. The Demo does a good job of letting you skip in between pitches with a tap of the A button. However, the rest of it seems to take a bit too long for my taste. I want to move along as fast as possible after each pitch/play/inning. In previous years, they had some sort of “hurry-up” mode. That was a great idea, but I just remember that it prevented me from seeing any sort of statistics during the game. Just because I want to get through games quickly doesn’t mean I don’t want to know the pitcher’s ERA and the hitter’s batting average. I guess we’ll see about these options once the game is officially released and people can really test it all out.
This is all still unanswered, and it’s a critical component. For some reason, year after year, they can never get this aspect right. Here’s what we want: ONLINE FRANCHISE WITH A MIX OF CPU & HUMAN PLAYERS. Why is that such a difficult program to implement? Oh, yeah, we also want online play to actually work — not some laggy, buggy mess. The ability to condense the league and shorten the schedule would be tremendous as well. This stuff seems so simple to add, yet they avoid it and keep coming up with crappy Home Run Derby modes that aren’t even any fun.
I’m still on the fence. Will I buy it? I probably will because I don’t have any other options. They have the exclusive MLB license on Xbox 360, so my only alternative would be to purchase a PS3 for MLB 11 The Show (which I hear is terrific). I guess that’s an option, but my preference is to avoid stacking dozens of electronic devices that cost hundreds of dollars, ya know? It is what it is.