Home | News | Reviews | Previews | Hardware
MLB 2K10
Score: 85%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: 2K Sports
Developer: Visual Concepts
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1 - 2 (1 - 2 Network Players)
Genre: Sports (Baseball)/ Arcade/ Simulation

Graphics & Sound:
MLB 2K10 has undergone some great improvements in gameplay this year, so there is something to look forward to there. But before getting into the nitty-gritty, it's time to take a more superficial look at this year's visual and audio goodness:

Once again the player models and stadiums look great. As you play your first game (or watch the Demo come up for the first time), you'll likely feel a bit like a kid in a candy store. However, there will almost certainly be a suspension of disbelief when you do your first double-take as the players pop from one animation to another. Unfortunately, the motion capture animations just weren't blended together very well, so as your players go from pose to pose (or better, from action to action), the popping is too drastic to ignore. That aside, MLB 2K10 looks as good as it plays.

From an auditory standpoint, the Menu music is a bit forgettable and annoying after a while. However, the commentating more than makes up for this as the announcers call the game. The very nature of a slower-paced sport like baseball yields great results from the commentators being able to not only call the play-by-play, but also to add their two cents between the action. The MLB Today feature's dynamic commentary adds to the realism by allowing the men in the booth to talk about events from your in-game season or from real-life stats that come via your Internet connection. MLB 2K10's use of dynamic commentary is the future of gaming, and while it was done before in 2K's basketball title this year, this is the best it has ever sounded. Perfection is the only word that comes to mind when I think about it.

For those of you who are consistently going with the 2K Sports lineup, you'll be very happy to know that many of the issues that plague previous versions of their baseball franchise have been addressed in MLB 2K10. The result is a very fluid game with a great presentation that will have you enjoying the play, rather than cursing at your television screen. The biggest improvement that the developers tried to hit on is within the batter vs. pitcher scenario. While the actions and control on both sides of the plate aren't perfect, they are certainly very well done and the game offers a great way to enjoy America's pastime.

MLB 2K10 offers up a new way to control the action, focusing on the Right Analog Stick to serve up different pitches and to take a swing at them while at the plate. I must admit that I love the feeling of total control when it comes to delivering pitches, but when it comes to batting, my preference would have been to ditch it for a one-button swing (available as a "classic" option). Other improvements to the game include fielding tweaks that make chasing a ball feel somewhat natural, although there is still room for improvement here. Probably the biggest addition to the game is that of the My Player feature where you'll be able to take a created superstar from the Minor League all the way to the Hall of Fame.

The My Player mode of play is definitely the most interesting of all gameplay options (Exhibition, Online Franchise, Season, Home Run Derby, etc.), and works quite similarly to that of 2K Sports' other star game, NBA 2K10. You'll start by creating a player and defining his position on the field, then work toward successfully completing goals based on that position. The pitching position is my personal favorite, although choosing a National League team may be more enjoyable over an American League franchise since you'll also be able to bat. The reason is that in the My Player mode, you'll actually only play the portions of the game that directly affect your created character (note: you can choose to watch the entire game at any time if you please). Just like in the Bigs, this mode of play lets you focus on improving individual stats and attributes instead of worrying about all aspects of the game through training exercises (although some of them don't make a lot of sense for pitchers; base-stealing is an example).

MLB 2K10 also implements the MLB Today feature, which combines the outstanding commentary with real-world stats and allows you to play the real-world matchups as they happen throughout the season. Once the Major League Baseball season gets underway, the commentators will reference actual events that have taken place in the real world, or at least within your game mode's borders, by dynamically calling the action. While impressive in NBA 2K10, the slower-paced nature of MLB 2K10 helps deliver this commentary perfectly the way it was intended, and truly delivers a broadcast-style feel to the game.

While MLB 2K10 is absolutely a great game, it is certainly not without its flaws. One of my biggest gripes is that it is impossible to check your swing using the Right Analog Stick method of control. At its surface, this may seem superficial, but in practice it's all too easy to barely twitch the stick as you watch the pitch come in, resulting in too many pokes at balls instead of strikes. With that said, the game does allow you to use a defensive swing that can help wear down a pitcher, but it just isn't the same since it will always result in a foul or strike, and never pulls back for pitches out of the strike zone.

Like other games in the 2K lineup, MLB 2K10 allows you to jump online from virtually anywhere in the Menu System. This system can sometimes be a bit annoying and hard to navigate at times, but in general works fairly well. Aside from some other smaller annoyances like a backward "K" symbol during some strikeouts and the occasionally poor A.I. fielding (usually spot-on, although there are times in the My Player mode where players throw to the cut-off man instead of trying to gun down base runners), the game is certainly worthy of looking into for a purchase. The overall improvements are much greater than its competition's, and the general features and control that can be felt are pretty good for a baseball title.

Since there are multiple difficulty settings to choose from upon starting, gamers of all skill levels should find a home within MLB 2K10. You'll also be able to get into the thick of the settings and tweak how the computer pitches, bats, fields, and many other stats for a truly personalized feeling of gameplay. Likewise, you can tweak human-controlled players similarly. So, if you find something out of balance whether playing against the computer or friend, you'll have the option to fix it, which is a great touch.

Aside from the settings themselves, MLB 2K10's difficulty comes from not only knowing the game and having pre-determined outcomes in mind even before the pitch of the ball, but also in the controlling of your players with the Analog Sticks. Thankfully, the former has been greatly improved from a gameplay standpoint with the inclusion of pre-loaded animations. Before a fielder ever tracks down the ball hit at him, you'll be able to tell him where to throw it so that there is no delay in attempting to get the base runners out, which also works well in situations where you may want to just hold a runner.

From a pure control standpoint, even though it seems a bit complicated, pitching came quite naturally to me by way of the Total Control Pitching. Each batter has a scouting report that helps the pitchers deliver to their key spots in the strike zone. On the other side of the plate, Total Control Batting is supposed to allow you to sense which pitch is coming, based on real-world stats. Unfortunately, batting felt a bit too overly complicated to get good at, and I would have preferred a single-button click as opposed to the use of the dual analog stick controls. Base running also felt a bit clunky, which made simulating a real-life baseball game to perfection nearly impossible.

Game Mechanics:
As for the controls used in MLB 2K10, the game makes full use of nearly every button on the controller. As this does complicate things for newcomers, the reality is that you'll mostly focus on using the Left and Right Analog Sticks. Using the Left one will control your players in the field, but it also is used for aiming your pitches and, in turn, where your batter will swing at them within the strike zone. The Right Stick is then used as your main mode of pitching the ball, and is also used to swing the bat. While batting, a quick flick outputs a normal swing and a pull-back, then forward yields a power swing. The unfortunate aspect of this method is that there is no check swing, which is a big disappointment when trying to avoid those pitches just outside the strike zone.

Using the Right Analog Stick for pitching, however, is outstanding. While it may take a bit to get used to, each pitch requires specific movement on the stick. Precisely matching the target move will result in a perfect pitch, and being slightly off will result in a pitch that has lost a bit of its control. One thing I love is that one can also throw wild pitches. If you happen to have a brain fart and use the movement of a fastball when you meant to perform a changeup, for example, the ball will get past the catcher. In such situations, and other not-so-great pitches, the game will often pop up a graphic depicting what you did wrong.

Where I was a bit disappointed was in base running. Using the shoulder buttons feels a bit too clunky, especially when needing to combine them with other buttons to control individual runners. All too often, my guys got caught in a pickle, only to get tagged out every time. Fielding sometimes felt a bit odd as well, but it wasn't horrible, and the overall improvements in MLB 2K10 make everything feel better nonetheless.

As a new year is upon us, so is the new era of the MLB 2K. This year's title goes above and beyond its predecessors, so fans of the series will be very happy and should not hesitate to pick this one up. Its competition, Sony's MLB 10 The Show, the only other MLB title out there, is also a decent baseball game, so it will be interesting to see the numbers when it comes to sales. For a complete rundown on the two titles side-by-side, take a look at Game Vortex's Feature, VS: Battle at the Plate.

NOTE: MLB 2K10 has offered up a contest that is probably the first of its kind. The guys over a 2K Sports are offering up $1,000,000 USD to the first gamer to successfully record a perfect game (under strict conditions). To find out more, click the link below referencing the Perfect Game Challenge.

-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele

Related Links:

This site best viewed in Internet Explorer 6 or higher or Firefox.