Major League Baseball 2K11 Review

The MLB 2K series has been struggling of late. The 08 and 09 versions of the game were disappointing. MLB 2K10 was better, but it still lagged far behind Sony’s MLB: The Show. MLB 2K11 is once again better than its predecessor, but is it good enough?

First off, it’s important to note that there aren’t a lot of new additions in MLB 2K11. Rather than add new features, 2K chose to polish and tweak what they already had. The place where this is most evident to me is the player animations, especially those for batters and pitchers. Pitching, swinging, and walking up to the plate look much more natural this year. The fielding animations have improved too, but they don’t transition as smoothly, resulting in some awkward-looking plays in the field.


Major League Baseball 2K11 (XBox360 [Reviewed], PS3, PC, Wii, DS, PSP, PS2)
Developer: Visual Concepts
Publisher: Take-Two Interactive
Release Date: March 08, 2011
MSRP: $59.99

Controls haven’t changed at all from last year’s edition of MLB 2K11. The right stick is used to throw pitches with a variety of gestures. Simple 4-seam fastballs require nothing more than a simple pull back and push through gesture, while curves and sliders require you to rotate the stick in a precise manner. Batting uses the same gestures, pushing the right stick forward to swing for contact, and pulling it back and through to swing for power.

Hitting isn’t as difficult as it has been in the past, but when you crank the difficulty up, expect to be working hard to get on base. The batter’s eye system returns, giving your hitter a chance to pick up the type of pitch that’s coming as it leaves the pitcher’s hand. The system works fairly well, although I think I would prefer a pitch guessing system like the one in MLB: The Show.

Pitching remains as challenging as it was in MLB 2K10, with a smarter umpire system doing away with questionable strike calls that you may have gotten away with in the past. It seemed that the AI batters could pick up my pitches better than the guys in the majors can, but hey, they’re computers, right? I found the right-stick pitching controls to be decent, but at times they registered a wild pitch when I felt that I had performed the gesture perfectly.

The biggest thing affecting gameplay were the bugs. While many of 2K10′s bugs have been eliminated, problems still exist. AI players miss plays that shouldn’t ever be missed, and worst of all, there’s a chance when you leap at the wall and rob a home run, the game will count both the out and the home run. This only happened to me a couple of times, but it’s a frustrating problem when you make a great catch late in the game and still give up the run.

One major non-gameplay change is with achievements. In last year’s release, the majority of the achievements required you to play in Pro mode. 2K11 changes this, giving you access to the majority of achievements regardless of your difficulty level. MLB 2K11 gives you a raft of options to adjust your difficulty setting, letting you tweak nearly every aspect of the game.

As I said before, there really aren’t any new game modes in MLB 2K11. My Player returns, allowing you to create a player and play through his career from AA to the majors. There are a few changes to this mode, including the addition of many opportunities to earn skill points for your player. Also new is the necessity of achieving certain ratings to be called up to the majors, but in reality it’s no harder to get to the bigs than before. Franchise mode also remains largely the same, with some minor tweaks to things like injury tracking. You’ll also be able to make more calls that a manager would make, such as choosing to start a pitcher who isn’t 100% over a backup who’s healthy.

Online play is another are that show marked improvement over last year’s model. The stuttering and lag issues that plagued 2K10 are almost entirely elimated, leaving only an infintesimal delay in swinging at pitches, but if you can adjust your timing very slightly, you’ll see some success. Matchmaking is also greatly improved, removing another issue that the 2K10 version suffered.

If you’re a 360 owner, it’s your only option for a baseball title, and it’s a workable one. However, it’s not a huge leap forward for the franchise like 2K10 was. PS3 owners will find this game slightly closer to the gameplay of MLB: The Show, but still far from equivalent.

Overall, MLB 2K11 doesn’t feel as much like a new game as it does a cleaned up, polished version of MLB 2K10. This isn’t a bad thing, as the game makes several steps in the right direction. Still, it feels more like a roster update this time around. It’s not a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, but the minor changes from last year may leave fans wanting more.

Pros:

  • Improved animations for pitching, hitting
  • Smarter umpire AI
  • More access to achievements
  • Major improvements to online latency

Cons:

  • No major changes from last year’s release
  • Some annoying bugs
  • Pitching controls are hit-and-miss
  • Updates to fielding animations still don’t look quite right

Score: 70/100

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