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Major League Baseball 2K9 Review

MLB 2K9 Changes Up The Formula, Gets Watered Down
by Andrew Reiner on Sep 22, 2009 at 02:03 PM
Reviewed on PlayStation 3
Also on Xbox 360
Publisher 2K Sports
Developer 2K Sports
Rating Everyone

Will someone please slip Major League Baseball 2K9 a syringe full of steroids and a tub of Barry Bonds' mysterious cream? Within a span of a year, this series has gone from a viable contender to an underperforming ­worrywart.

In a bid to make this year's game more accessible, 2K Sports makes concessions all across the diamond, often with disastrous results. The pitching mechanic was hit the hardest. The default system is now a simplified two-step process, requiring players to master the art of ''hold and gesture.'' This system is so simple that a blind ape could master it. Heck, Carlos Silva could! Veterans of last year's game can jump into the options to bring back the release point functionality, but it doesn't work as well as it did last year. Gestures are not shown and the ball icon is the size of a softball, which makes it difficult to determine if you are painting the corners or not. For whatever reason, 2K thought it would be cool to have every pitch conclude immediately with a firework-like explosion of color. Green! Red!! Blue!!! What in the world happened to this game?

The analog batting system is also simplified to a state where a coma victim with a periodic twitch could likely get good wood on a ball. The only area of this game that is dramatically improved is the fielding. The new pulled out view helps in reading the ball off of the bat, and the framerate is silky smooth. Transitional animations for fielders and base runners are still lacking, and the game's taste for the dramatics still needs to be dialed down. Fielders always seem to have ESPN's Top 10 plays of the day on the mind, even on routine plays.

If you are connected online, 2K promises living rosters that will be updated as soon as trades are made. As trivial as this may be, it is the only standout menu item. Franchise mode offers new menus, 30-player support, and enhanced CPU logic, but little in terms of new content. For the collectors, baseball cards are easier to earn this year. This is great since you won't want to spend much time with the gameplay anyways.

I was hoping that 2K would build on last year's foundation. Instead, the foundation has been altered to be more appealing to the masses. That's difficult logic to argue with, but 2K's approach is way off the mark.

Easy pitching has sucked the life and challenge out of this year's game
Animation hiccups abound, but player models details are still top notch
The play-by-play calls are right on the money
The pitching and batting mechanics have been simplified too much
People that didn't like last year's game might enjoy this one

Products In This Article

Major League Baseball 2K9cover

Major League Baseball 2K9

PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Release Date: