Major League Baseball 2K10

8.5 Overall Score

Written by on March 23, 2010 in

Spring has finally arrived and with it comes another installment of Major League Baseball from the 2K series. Visual Concepts has used their full year of development to bring out a much improved game for the fans of the summer pastime. The game engine was rebuilt for the new season, and there were several new features added to the game to fill out the lineup for 2K10.

As many teams in the big leagues are making trades and changing lineups fans will be right in on the action with the live rosters. Part of this is enhanced with the new MLB Today feature that allows you to jump in and play a ballgame from the real time list of games for that date. The presentation is altered a bit during the preseason as we’re still in Spring Training, so you have games from the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues for now. I found that the display of either palm trees or cactus jacks bordering the score between innings really added to the experience.

The new menu system takes a little time to adjust to. Any time there are changes, you get the feeling that you might not be finding things that should be there. MLB 2K10 takes full advantage of the right thumbstick from the menus to the game play. There are lots of options right from the beginning from MLB Today, to My Player, to Play Now and then you can jump into the different Modes from your own Franchise to honing your skills in the Drills. Get some friends together and start up your own Online League.

You might notice that there is no “Xbox Live” option to jump to in order to get started in an online match. This is because MLB 2K10 offers you the ability to invite a friend to play in virtually every game mode (except My Player) right up until you start the game. When you are on the team selection screen, you have the option to invite a friend or go right to a Ranked Match in the Play Now mode. You can even invite your friend that likes the Reds to come join you in your Franchise to play as your opponent when you’re traveling to play that Cincinnati ballclub in your schedule. That’s a nice touch.

Online play feels pretty good. The batting does seem to lag just a slight touch behind what feels natural. So when you are waiting on that fastball, you have to start your swing just a little more early than feels comfortable. Once the timing is down, you can be locked in some good plate battles. But try to get some information from your opponent beforehand. Sometimes people don’t like it when you play baseball and set them up with some good strikes and then a filthy breaking ball that makes them look like they’re beginners. Just make sure if you’re playing ‘strikes only’ (which is, in my opinion, weak ball), or regular rules before you get deep into the game.

My Player is a new game mode that allows you to take a created player from the dregs of the Minor Leagues as a hot prospect to the hallowed Hall of Fame. Once you create your player, you choose your team and immediately start out with the AA affiliate of your team. From there, you’re given a mentor who speaks to you as you progress in your career. Also, you have a list of goals that you need to meet in order to move up to the AAA level or straight to the Majors. After you reach the MLB level, your goals change to Hall of Fame goals.

Game play changes to a third person view from behind for your player. Pitching looks about the same as usual, but your player in the field if you’re not into pitching takes some getting used to. Some of the camera angles shift suddenly when your catcher attempts to pick off someone stealing a base. It’s so sudden, that you’re not even done with your pitching motion on the right thumbstick.

Prior to each inning or ‘event’ when you take control of your player, you’re given a goal to complete. From getting a strike out or inducing a ground ball double play to getting a base hit or making a defensive play. Points are awarded for completing play or inning specific goals as well as bigger goals for a game, or over the course of the season. These points are then used to upgrade your player’s skills.

Despite some of the oddities with the camera, this mode was by far my favorite. It’s addictive in that the games sim along when you’re not on the field or involved in a play, so they’re shortened. This causes you to “just play one more” more often then you’d think. It’s a challenge to turn the game off when you’re caught up in progressing your player and trying to get that overall rating up just another point or two.

The hitting component in the game has changed from partially depending on guessing where the ball might be thrown to purely on timing. You have three options for swinging the bat. Just up from the resting position for a contact hit. Pull back and push up for power. And now, you can hit defensively by pushing left or right on the thumbstick to try and slap the ball foul. Your player’s “batter eye” rating comes into play in certain situations that reveals a general location the ball is heading and what type of pitch is coming. The “batter’s eye” rating of your player combined with the pitch count determines if this feature comes into play during your current at bat.

Baserunning has a little modification moving the slide function from the right thumbstick to the left. You can advance individual players by pulling on the left trigger, or pushing the right thumbstick in the direction of the base you want to go to. You can advance or retreat all runners using the left and right bumpers, respectively. Changing from one player to the other is just a simple button push. Stealing bases is improved over last year where it was nearly impossible to get a stolen base. There’s a nice slow motion feature that kicks in when your player begins to slide. However, I’ve seen most of the time that the camera angle doesn’t give you much of a view of the tag. Instead it’s sitting behind your player who’s blocking the tag.

Fielding has gotten much better over last year. Players not involved in the play are actually doing something like covering their base assignment, or moving behind the player in position to catch a fly ball just in case it gets past them; instead of just standing around looking vacant. The framerates for something that happens fast, like a double play, are very smooth and the camera keeps up with the ball well.

Pitching still remains the crown jewel of the MLB 2K series. Using the right thumbstick you start your pitching motion by moving in the starting position for your selected pitch. For example, if you’re throwing a fastball, you pull down on the thumbstick and wait for the pitch meter to fill. This year, it looks like a gear with teeth on the outside that you try to lock into place when it expands to full size to get the MAX effort. To finish the pitch you complete the motion required. For the fastball, you simply push the thumbstick straight up. Moving the thumbstick stops the meter, but you need to complete the motion to get a good follow through, or risk a wild pitch.

Other pitches have more complicated motions required to complete the pitch. It’s satisfying to set up a hitter and then bend them into a pretzel with a nasty knuckle curveball, or throw a filthy slider that breaks across the plate and catches the corner leaving the batter doing his best impression of a window shopper. “Just looking.”

The sounds of the game are pretty well done. The crack of the bat when you crush a 450 foot home run, or the dull thunk when you get the end of the bat on the ball and it just bloops into right field where the fielder is waiting for it sound really good. The ambiance of the crowd and the popping of the mitt when you fire in a fastball are excellent. The commentary is pretty fresh and the guys in the booth actually will break off from a conversation piece when a play happens, and then return to finish their point when the play is over. That’s a great piece of work. They do fall into the repetitive loops toward the end of the game, but the work is much better than last year.

Overall, this year’s offering from 2KSports is a welcome addition to the game collection and the issues with camera work, ball movement on pitches, and repetitive commentary are pretty small. While the game isn’t perfect, it’s so much better and I look forward to putting it in my console when I feel like playing some baseball.

A copy of this game was provided to TMG for the purposes of evaluation and review.

Married Gamers Rating: B+

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Author: Erik Johnsen View all posts by
A married gamer that spends time editing many of the articles you read right here at The Married Gamers. Erik sometimes reviews Xbox One games and writes articles, but spends his available free time from work or hanging out with his family hunting achievements for a higher gamerscore.

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