Last year’s baseball offering from 2K Sports was disappointing, to say the least. However, since then Take Two brought in some of the people who worked on the MVP series for EA and promised to revamp the next iteration of the 2K baseball series to make it more enjoyable. Unfortunately, their improvements don’t deal with the biggest problems from last year, making MLB 2K10 feel like just another licensed game cash-in.
To be fair, 2K Sports did fix many of the gameplay imbalances from last year. It is now easier to pitch and to hit than it was in years past, and games no longer devolve into either pitchers duels or home run derbies as regularly as they did last year. Unfortunately, there is no way to change the way you hit or pitch the ball- you are required to move the thumbsticks in specific ways and at specific speeds to pitch and hit this year. The lack of an option to use the easiest and simplest control method- hitting a button- is a huge oversight because it would make the game much more enjoyable. The thumbstick control has never been precise enough, and this year is no exception. Even upon completing a difficult maneuver with the thumbsticks perfectly fine, I often found it telling me I either did so too quickly or that I wasn’t precise enough. Perhaps the trouble with the controls isn’t imprecision, but too much precision. Either way, pitching is not very enjoyable when you are told pitch after pitch that you are doing it wrong. Eventually I simply threw fastballs, but even those I was told I did incorrectly fairly often.
The biggest addition to the 2K series is the My Player mode. This mode was present in NBA 2K10, and greatly enhanced the enjoyment of that game, and it does the same for MLB 2K10. While the franchise mode wasn’t much fun because of the controls, My Player mode added a new dimension to the game, making it a little more enjoyable to play the game. It adds a little RPG flavor to the otherwise frustrating game. Every time your created player does something good, he gets experience points in baserunning, fielding, or batting. It is then up to you how you allocate those points. You can turn your double-AA batter into the next Babe Ruth, or make him the next Rickie Henderson. You could even swing for the fences and try to become a combination of the two. Want to be the next Nolan Ryan or Greg Maddux? You can customize your pitcher’s improvement just as much as you can your batter. The only down side to the My Player mode is again the controls. The My Player mode could be an addictive addition to the game, but the controls drag it down like they do everything else in MLB 2K10.
The final mode in MLB 2K10 is the online mode. In this, you can play ranked or quick games against anyone else who likewise picked 2K10 instead of MLB ’10. This time the controls aren’t a hindrance because your opponent has the same problem you do with the controls. This mode is done in by lag, a large amount of it. The lag isn’t as bad on the 360 as it is on the PS3, but there’s still way too much. In order to reliably hit the ball when batting, you have to swing almost as soon as the pitcher throws the ball. This means you have no chance of deciding whether it will be a ball or strike and you simply have to swing at everything. When pitching, the lag affects the timing of your pitching as well, so you’ll never throw that perfect put-away pitch. You’ll be lucky to throw anything other than a fastball near the plate, even with the best pitchers.
Graphically, 2K10 looks fine. Surprisingly it looks much better than last year’s version. The players are fairly detailed, and the crowds are actually 3D models this year, rather than 2D sprites which greatly adds to the feeling of playing in an actual stadium.
One redeeming quality of the MLB 2K10 game is the wonderful commentators. Yes, I said they were wonderful. They have a large repertoire of comments to make, and all of them are placed correctly and timed well enough that the commentary almost felt like it was covering a real baseball game. Unfortunately the soundtrack is more of the same, annoying music that 2K has licensed for the last decade.
Unfortunately, on the 360, this series is your only option for baseball right now. This game does represent a fairly impressive improvement over last year; however, it still isn’t worth the full price tag.
Pros: The gameplay is much improved over last year; The balance is much better; My Player mode is fun
Cons: Soundtrack is annoying; Batting and pitching controls are imprecise and frustrating; Online play is laggy
Plays Like: MLB 2K9