One baseball game scores

one strikes out

March 29, 2009|By CHRIS CAMPBELL / Scripps Howard News Service

"MLB 09: The Show"

Platforms: PlayStation 3, PS2, PSP

Genre: Sports

Publisher: Sony

ESRB Rating: E, for Everyone

Grade: 4.5 stars (out of 5)

My, my. How quickly the tables can turn in the video-game-supremacy realm.

With EA Sports out of the baseball picture, 2K Sports for a time led the charge with its "MLB 2K" franchise. But with subtle and wise improvements, however, "The Show" from Sony has stolen the spotlight. And this year it crushes the competition. It is, by far, the strongest title to bring the ballpark action to gamers.

You really feel like you got free tickets to a baseball game -- only you are playing in it. Major aspects like pitching, fielding and hitting are replicated in degrees unseen in previous games. Even minor details feel sweated over -- crowd noise, jersey movements, players' faces and stances, stadium details and more are all present.


It's the best all-around baseball game created so far.

The trick to baseball games is that the legions of fans end up playing them for months. Many will play entire seasons (in both the minors and majors), helping their club reach the World Series and win the title. So when baseball novices like me are impressed with both the short- and long-term benefits of playing, that really speaks to the game's strength.

"MLB 2K9"

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PS2, PSP, PC

Genre: Sports

Publisher: 2K Sports

ESRB Rating: E, for Everyone

Grade: 2 stars

What is more surprising about "MLB 2K9" is that the choice to put a pitcher on the game's cover seems more like a slap in the face to hurlers than praise. "2K9" is such a lovefest for the batter that I'm almost tempted to call this an arcade game rather than the sim it claims to be.

As stated elsewhere, I am not a baseball lover. So when I pick up a game like this and start belting homers, something is wrong. My friends and I were pegging balls as if they were teed up for us, and having 10 straight games end in double-digit scores is wildly unrealistic.

The visuals are distracting and look unfinished. Distorted facial expressions and player animations that look the same time and time again -- are there really only two ways to catch a ground ball? -- make the game look tired and incomplete.

In the end, I am just unsure as to what kind of baseball game 2K Sports was trying to release here. It has all the trappings of an arcade title, but wants so desperately to be taken seriously as a sim. Unless you are a fan of the franchise or need to rent this, it's best to leave this game on the bench.

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