The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer and baseball ambassador Ernie Banks
famously said, “It’s a great day for a ballgame; let’s play two!” This
quote sprang to mind as I recorded the final out in my MLB 2K10 debut.
For some of you, this quote may fall into the category of “well, duh,
who doesn’t play two games in a row?” For those of you who spent time
with MLB 2K9 – a game that helped increase the sales numbers of rival
product MLB: The Show – this quote brings hope back to a series that
was in danger of becoming an unintentional parody of the sport…like
In Visual Concepts’ second year of development
with this series, a firm foundation is established in both the feature
set and gameplay. The biggest addition, which happens to be my favorite
aspect of this game, is a new mode called My Player. While My Player
draws heavy inspiration from MLB: The Show (I’m talking Pablo Sandoval
heavy), player development isn’t a guided tour like it is in the
competition’s game. Your player doesn’t have to complete goals that
work against his true strengths. Rewarding different experience points
for pitching, batting, fielding, and baserunning allows gamers to
sculpt a player’s attributes the way they want. This is a subtle
difference between the two games, but My Player’s approach speeds up
player growth and rewards the gamer with a great sense of ownership
over the experience.
I should point out that My Player manager
logic needs serious work. Most of my pitcher’s appearances ended in
complete games (even with 130-plus pitches). In one outing, the faulty
logic led to my pitcher being sent to the plate during a ninth inning
tie with two runners on and only one out recorded. Other than this, My
Franchise mode incorporates 40-man rosters and
Minor League play into the mix, but still struggles with simulated
statistics. Every pitcher has a bloated WHIP, and every batter
ridiculously high stolen base and home run totals. Regardless, I did
enjoy injecting prospects into my season play.
That brings us to
gameplay. Visual Concepts has done a phenomenal job capturing both
pitching and batting. The additions of a defensive swing and batter’s
eye allow players to work counts, and if they use them to their fullest
extent, actually draw walks in a video game. The refinements made to
the series’ trademark gesture-based pitching translate to a higher
level of finesse (and hardly any meatballs).
Fielding remains a
major sore spot. The AI has problems recognizing what plays to make –
instead of turning an inning-ending double play, they’ll throw the ball
home to get one out. The game also does too much fielding work for the
player. Whether it’s a soft grounder or a popped up bunt, your player
is always in position or breaking to make the play before you give him
input. In most cases, I just threw the ball. While many of the
animations are lifelike, most games bring hilarious moments where a
player initiates a flashy move in an ordinary situation. Derek Jeter’s
leaping sidearm toss is seen just as frequently as a standard throw.
2K10 is heading in the right direction, but it’s not quite where it
needs to be yet. If you only have an Xbox 360, don’t hold back from
diving into My Player. I had a blast with this mode. Since the focus is
just on one player, the fielding annoyances are rarely seen. If the
system doesn’t matter, and your interest lies solely with gameplay, The
Show is still the way to go.
Email the author Andrew Reiner, or follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Game Informer.