MLB 2K10 is the latest addition to the Major League Baseball franchise from 2K sports. Making some hefty improvements and adding new control schemes brings together a whole new play style to the series. One big question does stand out though, being another yearly addition to a sports game, is there enough new content here aside from a roster update that makes this year's 2K baseball title worthwhile?
The additions themselves consist of two major ones that add quite a bit of much needed character to the series. One is a new career mode, which allows players to create a single player and play through with him in the Minor Leagues, including AA and AAA baseball, working up to the Major League. This is an addition that has been present in Sony's MLB series for a while now, and is a welcome addition to the 2K franchise, but it can get a little tedious and boring at times for some players. The other new feature, which is one of the best, is the MLB Today. This option, which takes stats for games taking place the same day, allows players to use the exact same lineups of games to see how they would fare in simulation. The MLB Today feature is a really cool way to see how teams will play out against each other before a game that day, or as a simulation of what happened earlier that day.
MLB 2K10 is also backed with some pretty great announcing, making the game feel more like a live broadcast event with very up to date details on players. The announcers also go into great detail about how a player is performing depending on where they are in the count, or their chances of stealing a base depending on how many outs there are in an inning. Along with the announcing, the sounds of the game are all there as well, including organs playing over the stadium speakers with people from the audience yelling support or scalding toward players, specifically calling out names and nicknames.
The unfortunate part of the game is that the presentation is not all that great and can really hamper the game's enjoyability at times. For example, there are moments of odd animation when the batter swings or when the pitcher throws, and they really breaks the game's appearance of realism. Batters pausing mid-swing then suddenly burst back into swing when the ball comes to them. It just looks very wrong and breaks the illusion of there being real players on the field. Not to mention that sometimes the ball magically moves into players' gloves if they are close enough to the ball without actually having their arm in the right place. These may seem like small flaws in writing, but to see these things happen visually just breaks the game and the whole illusion of the simulation.
The presentation also suffers from some appearance problems as well. Although the parks themselves look okay, including some of the finer details like the dents of the green monster in Fenway Park, the player models can range from slightly accurate to mediocre. Almost all of the faces look rather plastic and artificial bearing very little resemblance to the actual players. There are also little bugs in the game like arm bands that somehow end up inside the arms of some players. Having said that, textures and lighting are actually a little better than last year's iteration, but are still not quite up to par with most other sports games in terms of the visual presentation. Overall the game seems to be incomplete in the graphics department.
Controls are another hit and miss area of MLB 2K10, with an all new right stick control system available for pitching and hitting. The pitching part can be rather fun, using the right stick to gesture how to throw different pitch types. Right stick pitching feels like another level of simulation added to playing that is very welcome. On the other side, the batting feels very awkward, as players must thrust it in different directions to hit the ball with just the right timing. On top of using the right stick to hit, the left stick has to be used at the same time to direct around where the ball is headed, which is especially clumsy for PlayStation 3 users as thumbs can end up colliding awkwardly. Fortunately either mode can be independently changed to support the classic button tapping mode.
To round the package out, there is a competent multiplayer mode for two players locally or via online play. It's a fine multiplayer option with a group of settings that players can agree on before the game starts. There are also online leagues and championship options available for those who want to get into a hardcore multiplayer experience, but it does take a lot of time dedicated to playing the game to really get into it.
All in all MLB 2K10 is one of the better baseball games from 2K in recent years with MLB Today standing out as a very prominent feature that does something new. The game also features some great commentating that keeps the game feeling new every time. Unfortunately there is still a long way to go in terms of controls, presentation and visuals before 2K has a truly great game on their hands. When the physics of a ball completely changes because a player is remotely near it, that can spell disaster.