MLB 2K10 has arrived! Baseball fans across the country couldn't be happier, unless you're a Reds' fan. Things have come and gone for the series and this looks to be the best out of the bunch.
As with life, though, nothing is perfect and the same rules apply to MLB 2K10.
Better than a grand slam (not the breakfast)
Compared to MLB 10: The Show, which is SCEA's baseball game, MLB 2K10 is an offense generous game. If you like smacking the hell out of the ball (no giggling) then you've come to the right place. Unlike the very difficult, and sometimes frustrating, hitting controls for MLB 10: The Show this game simply allows you to hit the ball with the greatest of ease. Partly due to the simplistic control scheme that comes in three different varieties and partly due to the pitching vision you have as a gamer, gaining offense is simple.
While I didn't partake in last year's game, I did enjoy having three ways to hit the ball in MLB 2K10. You can do a full power swing that involves you pressing the right thumbstick down and then all the way up at the right moment. You can also just go for a simple hit/contact by pressing up from the halfway point of the thumbstick (meaning the middle). The third way to hit is a defensive swing that allows you to make some contact. During each of these, you can use the left thumbstick to pull the ball to the left or right, but mainly you don't need to that step. You may ask why and I can provide that answer for you. I swept Detroit in the World Series, as the Reds, 14-0 / 15-0 / 11-1 (drinking coffee, sorry) / 12-0. Folks, I didn't use anything except power swinging or simple contact. The Reds haven't hit that well since 1990 and they shouldn't be hitting that well. The controls are simple, the offense is a little unbalanced in your favor and you'll have a hitter's field day with the game.
Staying with hitting, deciding whether to do a power swing or just contact is simple. When each batter comes up to the plate there is a set of numbers representing a power gauge for power/contact. If one is higher than the other you should do the stronger one. If they are somewhat close then you should try one and change if need be. For example, when Brandon Phillips came up to bat he had a power of 69 and contact of 66. One game his power swing would be 'on' and some games his contact would be enough to produce homers. Regardless, the game gives you a great indication on what you should be using. Another example of this is Jay Bruce's numbers. His contact was 52 and his power was 92; which do you think I would use? Pretty simple and consistent with results.
Shifting to the other side of the plate, I didn't enjoy pitching in the game as much as batting. Each pitch you throw is performed by a particular movement on the right thumbstick. If you wanted to through a fastball you would need to push down on the right thumbstick and quickly up, then wait for an onscreen circular meter to expand into a perfect placement (dictated by your accuracy, of course). Sony's MLB 10: The Show offers a better method for pitching that doesn't require you to have three stages of quickness to your hands. If you miss the thumbstick pattern then the ball will either become a bad pitch or wild pitch (and it's not difficult missing the pattern). If you don't get the circle big enough the pitch is 'weak' or if you get the circle too big then the pitch is 'overthrown'. The worst part about pitching is after multiple hits. If you have too many people hitting your weak sauce pitches then the pitcher loses his composure and the ball starts to move around erratically in the batting zone. That is horrible, plain and simple. It isn't enough that you have to do four things to pitch the ball, but having the damn ball move around like a snitch running away from a seeker in Harry Potter is completely unacceptable.
I can see why 2K is offering up a million dollars for a perfect game; it's near impossible.
As for fielding and such, I think it's spot on with the rival game. In fact, there are parts of fielding that I find far more enjoyable. When you field a ball (be it outfield or infield) you get a cute little meter that pops up as your player is throwing the ball. The white part of the meter slows down your player, while the green part forces your player to fire the ball into the appropriate place and the red part is.... well.... bad. I love this extra factor and found it very fair and consistent.
For the most part, there's less to think about (outside of pitching) in MLB 2K10 when it comes to mechanics. For gamers wanting fun there's plenty to be had here. For a true baseball fanatic it might be a tad too easy for you (see MLB 10: The Show).
Foul-off and out of play on visuals
Had I not popped in MLB 10: The Show before MLB 2K10 then maybe I would have been wowed. Regretfully, the visuals in MLB 2K10 is very inferior in terms of presentation to its rival. The character models look suspiciously similar to each other, while the rival game's characters have different body sizes that are more realistically represented. Also, the faces on the models look slapped on and very two years ago in this generation of games. The game is plagued by jaggies in the graphics and the fans are very robotic. I hate getting down on the visuals for this game, but they are the weakest portions of it.
Stepping back for a moment, I'm beginning to wonder if the 360 is to blame for this graphical division when compared to MLB 10: The Show. Did the development team have to pull back on the visuals because the 360, and its format, couldn't do better? I'm not going to ask because it's rude, but one can assume that the gap between the two games isn't simply poor decision making on the team's part. Visual Concepts has made a living with great animation since the Sega Dreamcast and I'm almost positive it didn't let up on purpose.
More than just a game
There are some good features outside of the regular game that might fascinate players. The first one is the My Player mode. This mode allows you to create your own legend for your own team. You take them through the minors to the majors. It's similar to the SCEA concept of building a player and cultivating them to greatness. For me, I'm more of a traditionalist and would prefer to do the impossible and play the Reds (as they are) and win the whole damn thing. For those folks out there that have to have that extra bit of ego boost, have at it.
As for the online mode, I had such an easier time with it than with MLB 10: The Show. There wasn't any lag to complain about, just straightforward baseball online. It was quick and fun and I certainly can't complain about the experience.
So this leads into the value of the game. Here's the dilemma, what do you want from the game? Do you want a true baseball experience that doesn't involve a ton of offense? Or would you rather have a fun game that works well, for the most part, and just let's you have rack up points? For me I enjoyed the outrageous scoring capabilities and the easy batting/fielding. For some people, who are stat trackers, this may not be the game that fulfills your needs. Simply put, this game is worth the $59.99, if not only for the season and online experience.