Major League Baseball 2K9 Review
Xbox 360 | PS3 | Wii | PS2
Major League Baseball 2K9 box art
System: X360,PS3, PC, PSP, Wii, PS2 Review Rating Legend
Dev: Visual Concepts 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: 2K Games 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Mar. 3, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-2 (1-2 online) 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
SWING!—and a Miss
by Leon Hendrix III

I know how 2K Games must feel. It’s not always easy having a big brother. Your every effort is analyzed and compared to your older sibling; it gets to you. 2K Games has gone a long way to instill itself within the hearts of gamers worldwide with innovative, entertaining, and unique games over a variety of consoles. Take-Two, 2K’s parent company, is responsible for some of the most incredible games ever released, including the Grand Theft Auto series, Jade Empire, Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, and Bioshock.

Major League Baseball 2K9 screenshot

When it comes to sports, however, most gamers will be quick to pick up the latest offerings from that other publisher/developer – you know which one I mean. It can’t be fun always being compared to another publisher, especially the largest in the world. Maybe the pressure got to them – nah… that’s still no excuse for pitching a meatball like this one.

The pitching is over-complicated, the fielding is awkward and even unpredictable, bugs abound, and there seems to be no sense of scale in this game. If the presentation wasn’t as good as it is, and it is good, I would’ve lost interest after the first runner Nightcrawler-ed his way through my fielder (more on that later).

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At the risk of sounding like a complete noob, I would like to relate some stats from my second exhibition in 2K9. Just to save face, I should say that I understood the batting and fielding mechanics for the most part. I played White Sox versus Phillies. As the Sox, I managed eight hits, including a triple and a double, three home runs, 4 errors, and had an average of just .242. Respectable enough for a first outing one might assume (had all of my runs not come in the bottom of the ninth).

Major League Baseball 2K9 screenshot

The Phillies somehow managed an astounding 23 hits with an average of .561. At one point, the world champs managed a two-run homer, five solo shots, a double, and several base hits in one inning, most of which were back to back. The final score was an outrageous 28 to 4. The MLB website says that the most runs ever scored in a game was 36. I have played baseball games on Super NES that were more realistic.

The problem is a number of things. First off, controls are clunky and anyone who hasn’t played the latest MLB 2K entries will initially have a difficult time. You can alter the game’s controls, or use secondary face-button configurations, but it’s best to stick with the initial setup because it offers increased control. Pitching, batting, and fielding can all be handled via the right stick; hitting is a simple matter of pulling back on the control stick and flipping it forward to connect, while the other analog stick can direct the angle of your hit. When fielding, you can direct throws to any base by pointing in that direction. Pitching is probably the most efficient of the three, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. Pitching according to the selected pitch (highlighted in yellow) and the batter’s tendencies (available via onscreen overlays) almost always results in a pop-fly, strike, or foul. This seems a bit formulaic and kind of cheap. To select a pitch (each of which features two movements of the analog stick), you swing your stick in one direction, hold it there until the circular meter fills out, and then swing it in the second direction. While this seems complicated on paper, I assure you it is even more complicated in the game.

Major League Baseball 2K9 screenshot

This of course leads to mistakes by the player, but interestingly enough, it almost always leads to mistakes by your computer-controlled teammates. When fielding, for instance, gamers will probably try to throw their hardest to the cutoff man to get that crucial out at third. Of course, this invariably leads to a fast throw that will get away from the baseman and send two runners home because, as you chase the ball, no one covers the base. ‘Maybe it was a glitch,’ you’re probably thinking – it wouldn’t be the only one.

Unfortunately, plays like this are all too common. I don’t imagine much time was spent on polishing or play testing this game and it shows. The A.I. is poor to the point of frustration. My catcher missed a throw and, as there was not indicator of where to find the ball, the runner took a base. A player ran through the wall attempting to snag a fly that bounced harmlessly inside and kept me from chasing after it. Once, I cut off a runner trying to steal home and attempted to run him down with A. J. Pierzynski. The runner attempted to speed through the base and actually passed through my catcher’s arm as he reached to tag his hip. I decided to block the base the next time only to witness a similar result.

Screenshots / Images
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