Major League Baseball 2K10 Review
This bare-bones baseball game doesn’t do nearly enough to improve upon its predecessor.
- Mostly realistic plays in the field after the crack of the bat
- Vibrant stadium sounds, complete with cheers and taunts.
- Simplistic pitcher-batter duel
- Horrible visuals, especially when it comes to stadium art
- No support for online features like multiplayer and updated rosters.
None of the improvements seen in Major League Baseball on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 this year made it over to the Nintendo Wii. This game has virtually nothing in common with its console siblings save the soundtrack, with developer 2K China forgoing all of the new features, such as the headlining My Player Career mode that lets you take a scrub to stardom. Reasonably good game mechanics, as well as OK-but-unnecessary Wii Remote motion-sensing controls for hitting and pitching, make this a passable excursion onto big-league diamonds only if you don’t have last year’s game or don’t own either of the other current-generation consoles.
None of the other version’ big new additions are here. My Player, the franchise’s answer to the captivating Road to the Show mode of play that has been the centerpiece of the Sony-only rival MLB: The Show series, is nowhere to be found, nor is the MLB Today addition that lets you play through the current big-league season as it takes place. So you get more or less the same experience here as you had a year ago with MLB 2K9. Modes of play include the tried-and-true Season, Franchise, Tournament, and Home-run Derby, along with the ability to stage manage set challenges, like coming back from a deficit in the seventh inning or getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the ninth.
Earning tokens and using cash are the only somewhat interesting frills, but they haven’t changed noticeably since last year. Tokens are earned for in-game achievements that range from accomplishing one-off feats like recording three straight hits all the way to winning the World Series and can be then used to unlock goodies. These include classic MLB uniforms (well, if you call the likes of the Angels’ polyester duds from the ’70s “classic”) and parks, such as the late–definitely not great–Olympic Stadium in Montreal. There aren’t many good rewards here, however, and tokens can be earned so easily that you seem to get them for just stepping onto the field without getting hauled into congress to answer questions about steroid use. You also acquire them when simming. Whenever you feel like stocking up on tokens and going on a spending spree, all you need to do is sim through a season or two with a good team like the Yankees or Phillies. Cash is a little more useful. It can be used to buy Inside Edge scouting reports that your catchers utilize to call pitches and locations that target hitter weaknesses, which deepens the pitcher-batter duel that is the heart of baseball.
Hitting the field doesn’t offer many surprises, although what does stand out is generally bad. The ugly visuals strike you first. Player and stadium art is as jagged as saw blades, barely resembling their real-life inspirations. Much of the art is so off that it resembles unlicensed hack jobs done up to look sort of like the real thing–but not really–so that nobody winds up getting hauled into court. This is really noticeable in the ballparks, which generally seem to have one key feature like the ivy at Wrigley Field and the big sign towering over left center in new Yankee Stadium rendered relatively accurately. And then, there are a bunch of generic accoutrements tossed in to round things off. So there isn’t a whole lot of big-league atmosphere. Audio is somewhat better, with stadium sounds that are ear catching and diverse. This includes a good array of team-specific cheers and catcalls. Commentary is limited, and while the play-by-play does a good job of keeping you in touch with the basics, it lacks color. The eclectic soundtrack includes everything from the sludgy rock of the Black Crowes to the old-school rap of the Sugarhill Gang, so perhaps the best thing to say about it is that there’s something for everybody even if the mix of tunes is about as jarring to the ear as a car alarm going off at four in the morning
Game mechanics in MLB 2K10 similarly blend good and bad. Hitting is handled by swinging the remote and holding buttons if you want to try for the fences, keep the ball on the ground, lay down a bunt, or check your swing. Pitching sees you choosing a pitch type with the nunchuk, picking a location with the remote, and then flicking the remote at the screen when a bull’s-eye target shrinks to green. Both work well as they did last year and allow for precise control on the mound, as well as in the batter’s box at least if you’re willing to put your wrists through the wringer with all that flicking and twitching. Last year, the motion sensing still seemed like a smart changeup from the usual gamepad controls. Now, a year later with no changes whatsoever, it’s hard not to wonder if they couldn’t have been improved in some way. You’re not really mimicking an actual swing or mock throwing a ball, and the pitcher-batter duel is an awfully simplistic one where a lot of balls get chucked down the pipe, so you wonder what the point is of all the carpal tunnel damage. Arcade-y stuff like this can be handled just as adroitly with a gamepad.
Action out on the diamond is quite realistic, though. Plays in the field are realistic for the most part, and even the fielders seem believably human here. They make errors, can’t throw laser beams to first from their knees way down the third-base line, and even sometimes knock each other down when scrambling during plays at first or when converging on shallow pop flies. Once ball leaves bat, you never know what you’re going to get, which gives games that great “anything can happen” atmosphere when playing or watching the real deal.
If a Nintendo Wii is your only gaming console, then MLB 2K10 might satisfy those inevitable baseball cravings that are always roused by the arrival of spring for a time. But this is still a lacklustre, paint-by-numbers effort that does little more than provide Wii owners with the option to buy a new baseball game this year. Considering that so much effort was put into overhauling the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the game, it’s disappointing that 2K chose to just tread water with the Wii this time out.
By Brett Todd