Last year’s baseball offering from 2K Sports took lots of heat from critics and the public. Some of it was deserved, some was just piling-on, but most agreed that MLB 2K9 was a work in progress. Within hours of playing its successor, it became obvious that the development team behind MLB 2K10 answered the call and gave us a vastly improved product. It ain’t perfect – can a baseball game ever be? – but it’s the most enjoyable and fan-friendliest hardball sim Take Two has released this generation.
A good baseball game starts and ends with solid controls, and 2K10 pretty much nails them. The new hitting interface is a gem, offering a nifty perspective that allows you to judge incoming pitches as well as we’ve seen in years. In a nod to the venerable MVP ’05, there’s a quick flash of the incoming pitch type and location (for good hitters, anyway). Some would say it’s cheap – you can always turn it off, so stop whining – but we like it, especially since last season’s offensive settings that resulted in games with football scores have been adjusted a bit. There’s no doubt that putting the bat on the ball consistently is much tougher in 2K10, but we’re not complaining. The balance feels pretty darned good.
Pitching also feels great. It’s not that different from last season, but the subtle change to pre-select your pitch then execute the Street Fighter-esque stick motions seemed to give us more control over what we were doing. Fielding is also a snap, as we rarely botched routine throws or even key defensive plays. Baserunning, on the other hand, is clunky at best (although by now this may just be our own ham-hands causing us problems).
OK, so we’re definitely back on the 2K bandwagon this year. That doesn’t mean there aren’t problems. The visuals are better - especially the framerate – but lots of player models are downright ugly. Is David Wright’s likeness actually an outtake from Nazi Zombies? Yikes. It also seems like there are waaaaay too many line drives caught for outs and double plays executed. In addition, player animations are herky-jerky when transitions happen, resulting in unnatural scenes. 2K10 looks much better at regular speed than in slow motion, when a lot of the visual gaffes are easier to catch.
As with any self-respecting current-gen sports game, there are tons of player options to sink your teeth into. Naturally, there are franchises and playoffs; a new single-player career mode called My Player (a bold rip-off of Sony’s Road To The Show), a cool MLB Today option that lets you play that day’s MLB matchups with the up-to-the-minute rosters, and scads of online options. You won’t lack for things to do, that’s for sure.
As the only baseball option on the 360, we’re relieved that MLB 2K10 is a genuine winner. There is still work to be done, but it deserves a spot on a major league roster.
Mar 9, 2010