Review: MLB 2K10 (PS3, Xbox 360)April 6th, 2010 | Written by Chris Selogy | Topic: PlayStation 3, Reviews, Xbox 360
With the bad shape that last year’s 2K baseball arrived in, it’s no surprise that Visual Concepts is rebuilding the MLB 2K brand to hopefully reach its former glory as a series that can be respected by its peers. MLB 2K10 focuses on bringing the core game up to a playable standard and adds some new features like a career mode that it has sorely lacked in the past few years. While MLB 2K10 is still not a serious threat to Sony’s baseball crown, it’s certainly a much more competent game for Xbox 360 owners than past efforts of this generation.
MLB 2K10’s mechanics are all still based around using the analog stick to bat, pitch, and field and they’ve been tightened up even more this year. Batting feels a bit tighter, though its main change is that the default camera is a bit lowered and angled up for a more cinematic effect that makes it hard to pick out strikes that you can hit. The only issue with batting is that your power hitters can still jack home runs with ease, but the rest of your team tends to hit within the confines of the ball field and their natural ability. Pitching is easily the best part of the game, as it feels great to nail that third strike in the corner of the strike zone.
The newest feature that has been added is the My Player mode, which is 2K’s version of Sony’s Road to the Show mode where you try to take your created player from the minor leagues to the pros and maybe even the Hall of Fame when all is said and done. The result is a decent mode that certainly offers everything you’d expect from it, but doesn’t do anything beyond that to make itself stand out amongst the career modes that every other sports game offers. From the awful player creator to the odd way that experience points can be spent on attributes, it feels like a rookie feature that needs to step it up for next year’s game.
A nice addition to this year’s game is the MLB Today mode, which is the first thing you see when the game starts up. This shows all of the day’s games and lets you play them in exhibition, though it’s a shame that this isn’t the way your franchise mode is displayed or that there’s no metagame built around it like NCAA Football 10’s Season Showdown mode that gives it more of a reason to exist.
Speaking of the main menu, the menu interface this year is probably the worst in the entire sports genre at the moment. Needing to move the right stick just to bring up the main menu when you start up the game or to bring up the pause menu you’ve already paused the game are the first signs of how clunky and unappealing this menu system is.
The biggest issues with MLB 2K10 are the animations and details that are at best decent and sloppy at their worst. The player animations are pretty bad most of the time, so this probably should’ve been one of the basics that were fixed for this year’s game. On top of that, we noticed that most infielders don’t actually make the needed effort to grab the ball, so you can see the ball warp into an infielder’s glove most of the time. It feels like we’re seeing a last generation game in action rather than what’s expected of a baseball game in this generation.
The rest of MLB 2K10 looks fairly good, though there’s nothing really spectacular about its visuals. Most players look like their real-life counterparts, though some players, like Indians starter Jake Westbrook, look nothing like they should. The crowds do try to catch foul balls or homeruns, but it looks nothing like a real game when either a very small group gets up or everybody stays in their seats like robots when a ball is headed their way. The one big issue with many of the stadiums are the stat overlays on the big jumbotrons, as they never use the entire screen, so it’s usually hard to read whatever it says unless it’s on a big screen like in the new Yankee Stadium.
The commentary in MLB 2K10 is really good in that they have some factoid or story for almost every player of decent stature in the league, though you can hear the same thing repeated in each game if there’s not much specific to be said about a player. While it does a good job of replicating the type of banter you hear on a television or radio broadcast, it is way too repetitive and too reliant on regurgitating stats that make you sick of the commentary after playing a few games in one session. It works for the radio or TV because you usually only hear them once a day at most.
Visual Concepts did a good job to make MLB 2K10 a playable baseball game that can be fun at times, though they still have a long way to go before they can be a worthy challenger for Sony’s MLB series. It lacks a ton of polish in the visual and animation departments that are needed to give the game all the details it needs to actually feel like you’re at the ballpark rather than just playing a game. If you’re interested at all, it would be best to rent the game to see if you find enough to like to warrant a full purchase.