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Major League Baseball 2K9 review

AT A GLANCE
  • Hitting is finally easy
  • Building a Card team
  • Old-school player models
  • Too many visual gaffes
  • Spotty outfield defense
  • No World Baseball Classic

The promise of next-generation sports has, in many cases, turned into a curse. Trying to meet the demands of hardcore fanatics without rendering casual players inept has proven more difficult than anyone imagined at the start of the 360/PS3 cycle. Nowhere has that paradox been more evident than in the baseball realm, which has proven to be tough as nails for all but the most dedicated to crack. The gang at 2K Sports has clearly felt your pain – and believe they have the answer with MLB 2K9.

For starters, it’s never been easier to hit the ball consistently. Gone are the days when successful batting depended solely on luck; the updated Swing Stick works beautifully. It’s no longer the home-run-or-strikeout dynamic of years past, as a simplified interface and forgiving engine allows everyone to step up to the plate and let ‘er rip. Pitching is a little tougher to nail down (and the controls are pretty sensitive), but it’s still manageable after a few warm-ups. Even baserunning – gasp! – is implemented well, as we made far fewer idiotic mistakes than normal, all without consulting a manual.

Unfortunately, fielding is a bit of an adventure, especially in the outfield. There were plenty of times we were lined up for routine catches, only to have the ball inexplicably fly over our head Canseco-style. What’s more, our CPU-controlled opponents had similar issues more than once. While we appreciated the fact that outfield mishaps were an equal-opportunity affair, there’s no reason so many routine plays should be botched. This is the major leagues after all – mistakes like this hardly even happen.

Scads of other problems exist throughout the game, too. There are visual hiccups aplenty, including players gliding through each other on a regular basis, herky-jerky motions between pitches, and occasional framerate drops when the ball is put in play. Heck, even Big Papi’s famous batting stance suffers from a half-second stutter, symptomatic of the lack of polish that permeates the experience. Something that was supposed to be a nice touch – the day-turns-to-night effect of a midafternoon start – is rendered bizarre when postgame highlights are shown; that first-inning home run you hit when the sky was full of sunshine will be represented as if it had taken place in the dark. While none of these issues ruin the solid gameplay, they undoubtedly conspire to take 2K9 down a notch.

We’ve rarely been so conflicted about a baseball game, but MLB 2K9 is a paradox. It’s undeniably fun and accessible, offering plenty of addictive options for hardball fans. It also suffers from too many gaffes that are impossible to ignore. As the only MLB sim option for the system, 360 owners could certainly have it worse.  There’s no doubt we’re well on our way to playing a full 162-game campaign, but we were hoping for a more complete experience this spring.

Mar 3, 2009

More Info

Release date: Mar 03 2009 - Xbox 360, PS2, PS3, PSP, Wii, PC (US)
Mar 03 2009 - PC (UK)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS2, PS3, PSP, Wii, PC
Genre: Sports
Published by: 2K Games, 2K Sports
Developed by: 2K Games, Visual Concepts
Franchise: Major League Baseball 2K
ESRB Rating:
Everyone

7 comments

  • bron1417 - March 10, 2009 10:05 p.m.

    im honestly dissapointed c'mon 2K get your act together and do it fast because your the only 1 on 360 c'mon now.
  • dmonee12 - March 4, 2009 12:44 a.m.

    Last years MLB: The Show was the best baseball game I ever played. I was hoping this would be a kick in the ass for 2k, but I guess it hasn't been a hard enought kick. I think the MLB license is up soon, and hopefully EA will take this demon off the hands of 2k. Before Mlb: the show last year, MVP '05 was my favorite baseball game. I woiuld love to see an MVP for the current generation. One more thing that is too bad. The MLB license is only exclusive to 3rd party development, which means, Xbox could have published their own baseball game. If you remeber a few years back, Microsoft purchased 3DO. 3DO made the High Heat baseball games. The games with Curt Schilling on the cover. The games played great, but the presentation sucked. Shame on you Microsoft for not harvesting the old High Heat baseball engine and giving Xbox owners their own baseball experience to brag about (Inside Drive baseball or whatever that was doesn't count). Now were stuck with this crap. I'm pissed I got rid of my PS3 now.
  • xFnKxTaLeNtx - March 3, 2009 11:26 p.m.

    this is a sad streak for the franchise, Baseball is one of the most watched/ played sports in North America, but all the games suck :(
  • frenchie007 - August 3, 2009 12:55 a.m.

    i must have low standards cuz i love this game. lol
  • HungryBeaver - March 8, 2009 8 p.m.

    Well done 2K sports. You've ruined another great sport into making it a video game. I've played this and a third - grader could make a better baseball game. You've succesfully ruined another sport in games. At least this one isn't as bad as NHL. That was a joke. Stick with basketball and leave EA Sports to do the rest.
  • Leeman - March 6, 2009 1:01 a.m.

    MLB2K7 was "ok". 2K8 was disappointing and I traded it in. 2K9? The reviews have been less than impressive. I'll pass. It's a shame. I really enjoy a good baseball game but you simply can't find one anymore. Exclusive rights to one developer have ruined a good gaming experience. Congratulations 2K Sports. Well done. Now do the noble thing and let someone else build a decent baseball game.
  • Grenade - March 3, 2009 9:54 p.m.

    Does anyone even care?

Showing 1-7 of 7 comments

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