Finally - Major League Baseball 2K11 has been released, and to me, this is when the road to Opening Day seems less torturous. Is MLB 2K11 better than 2K Sports's past iterations? Read on to find out, or skip to the end for the TL;DR version.
[I should note that I have not played many 2K games the past few years. The last MLB 2K game I played frequently was 2K7. I played 2K8, 9, and 10, for very short periods of time.]
Graphics: 3.75/5 Initially, I found MLB 2K11 to be extremely underwhelming graphically. After playing about 5 games in different stadiums and getting a chance to immerse myself in the game, I'm actually fairly impressed. Regardless of that, I'll talk about the low-points first - I'm disappointed that 2K Sports has still not fixed the robotic/glitchy/snap-motion movements. I'm not SURPRISED none of that has really been patched up, but it's a shame - it really takes away from the experience, and just gives you constant reminders you're just playing a game. Another downfall for me would have to be the shadows on the players - they seem jagged and extremely unrealistic. On the field though, the shadows look pretty good, and the fact that the sun moves during games is a fantastic feature, as it affects the game quite a bit when the shadow creeps between home plate and the pitcher's mound. With all the criticism, you're probably wondering how I could score the graphics a 3.75. I'll tell you why, though - there are a couple big reasons. First of all, although the shadows on the characters are a HUGE bummer, the uniforms look really nice, and some of the character models are spot on. While lesser known players, like say, Brennan Boesch or Alex Avila of the Detroit Tigers, look nothing like their real-life counterparts, (understandable, as they can't very well face scan all the MLB players.) the likes of marquee players like Derek Jeter, Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander, among many, many others, look very well done. The second reason I score this as I did is that I REALLY like the menus in this game, whether it's the in-game pause menu, or at the main menu - not too busy, pretty clean, and just very well laid out. 2K11's got nothing on The Show as far as in-game graphics, but it's nothing to sneeze at.
Sound: 4/5 Gary Thorne, Steve Phillips, and John Kruk offer commentary in MLB 2K11, and do it quite well. In my opinion, Gary Thorne has one of the best voices for a baseball game, so for him to do MLB 2K11 was really great. While this isn't necessarily a comparison review between MLB 2K11 and MLB 11 The Show, the commentary in this game blows The Show out of the water. It's more interesting, and just seems more real and enthusiastic. The soundtrack in this game, as well as in many sports games I've played, is actually quite good, featuring some really nice songs from bands I hadn't really listened to - like We Are Scientists - and ones I had never even heard of, like Trenchtown, whose "Unpaid Holiday" is probably my favorite of them all. Other artists that offer their tracks include Pearl Jam, Pat Benetar, among others. There aren't very many songs on the track list, but the vast majority are nice choices.
Fun: 3.75/5 It's quite hard for me to score MLB 2K11 - it's really somewhere between a 3.75 and 4 rating (7.5 and 8). Seeing as how there is such a lack of polish and the game costs $60 and lacks any real new features causes me to give it the 3.75. Sure, they added the Dynamic Player Rating system, which makes the real-life players' performance effect the in-game players', is pretty cool, but that's not going to happen until the season starts, and that's about the only significant new feature added to 2K11. It's not at all a bad game, but it could really be a lot better. Whatever happened to setting concession prices in sports games? Sure, maybe many people thought it was lame and gimmicky or whatever, but I actually enjoyed things like that. Why do the players have to be so jerky and glitchy and botch plays that should quite easily be made? 2K Sports got a lot right with MLB 2K11, but they also could have done a lot more. For $60 every year, you expect something really new, and there isn't much here. My Player - keep in mind, haven't played much in the past - is fun and all, but the fielding (at least in the outfield, haven't tried anywhere else) is just awkward due to the camera angle, and the base running is an absolute chore. Basically, MLB 2K11 is nothing that will blow your mind. Is it better than recent MLB 2K games? In my opinion, yes, but not much better, so don't expect MLB 2K11 to be the greatest baseball game you have ever played.
+: Commentary, soundtrack, graphics grow on you - somehow, Dynamic Player Rating System, pretty solid baseball game.
-: Nothing special, STILL glitchy and buggy in many areas, injuries seem way too frequent.