First Thoughts and Videos from MLB 2K9

Posted March 4th, 2009 at 6:22 am


With MLB 2K9 out today I recorded a couple innings in HD and also decided to drop some early thoughts on the game. I’ll have a more detailed “wrap-up” article in the coming days as well as a report focusing on the online play of both baseball titles.

Continue on to watch the videos and read some of the initial impressions I have with the game. Needless to say things are not looking good.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever fired up a game for the first time and come across so many problems within such a short period of time. Many of these things have been discussed recently with the demo out there and lots of people getting their hands on the game early. However I didn’t realize how prominent the issues were and how they would end up piling on until now.

Obviously the most widely recognized flaw going in was the propensity of the CPU swinging at everything in the strike zone. Right now I’d estimate probably 90%+ of thrown strikes are swung at. It results in quick innings, low pitch counts, and a lot of base hits. This was my biggest concern going in and it was justified however other things I’ve found loom even larger.

The framerate is good enough, certainly after last year. But it does slow down some right after the ball is put into play and in other situations. There is no question that it isn’t a steady 60fps. Despite that it really isn’t anything that will affect the outcome of a play but still becomes a slight annoyance.

I dislike that that it is so difficult to check swing, the saving grace on that is the pitches come in so slow you rarely would need to check swing. Just like in the demo the pitches float to the plate and you don’t get the sense of speed from a fastball that you would expect.

I had one play in the outfield where my left fielder should have caught it easily but it landed behind him. I then tried to go to replay to see why it happened and the replay feature didn’t work. All I had available was to watch was the pitcher walking around the mound for two seconds preparing to throw the upcoming pitch. Looks like by the time you get to the next batter you can’t watch a replay of the previous play which caught me by surprise.

On to the most pressing areas that need to be discussed. That being the atrocious AI, glitches, and various oddities. In addition to that earlier example I’ve also had:

  • A slow roller go right by the CPU 2B as he stood there
  • Dropped routine catches in the outfield both by user and CPU
  • Numerous instances of a throw to first where the 1B decides to be off the bag allowing for a hit. This literally happens about once every other inning
  • Fielders going in slow motion so they can’t get to a ball in time
  • And in the video below you can see how the CPU RF handles a ball off the wall.

All these things I’ve come across in just a handful of innings so that definitely does not bode well for where this game is headed.

On the positive side I love the end of inning replays. 2K has always done a good job with the transitional presentation in their games. The real time style of presentation continues to be a good move though the player movement at times makes things awkward. I appreciate the flow that it brings to the games along with the new commentary. It was also cool to see the crowd stand up for home runs and the post-game highlights are fantastic.

I’m wondering why can’t you pre-load throws anymore? It looks so rough fielding the ball and having to wait for the meter to fill. It really screws up the fluidity of double plays especially and can result in missing out on them. Also why can’t the pitcher throw to a base with any velocity?

I’m fouling off more pitches, but the CPU doesn’t seem to throw many balls. Goes hand in hand with the CPU not taking any strikes. Almost like they’re just trying to speed up the games. In some ways that is appreciated but not when it means sacrificing the authenticity of what is supposed to be a simulation of the sport.

Just a random annoyance but you have to wait for the batter to finish his routine before you throw the first pitch. On many cases now I’ve attempted to throw the pitch but the meter wouldn’t start to fill, so I’d back off it and then it would pitch with as little put into it as possible. It’s ironic to me that the game has been designed to allow you to speed through it but then you have to sit and wait before you can throw a first pitch.

Basically my first impression of MLB 2K9 is that it is incredibly sloppy. I’m actually somewhat startled by what I’ve encountered. Just like last year I went into it wanting and hoping to like the game, especially since it’ll probably end up as my primary one for online. I think 2K9 has the potential to offer some fun but if the well known issues are just the start of things to come (as I’m seeing already) they’re certainly going to overshadow the few redeeming aspects of this game.