MLB 2K9 Online Impressions

Posted March 5th, 2009 at 3:05 pm


Last year MLB 2K8 offered quite possibly the worst online experience of any sports game this generation. It was literally unplayable due to unbearable lag and delay. Given that the 2K Sports titles since have all had their share of major problems online I was hesitant to believe that 2K9 would be much better. However I have been pleasantly surprised with it so far. Continue on to read my full online impressions as well as watch some video examples.

Lag was the dominant issue last year, you had to swing the bat before the pitcher even released the ball. I am happy to report that whatever caused that has been primarily solved. Both pitching and hitting have been consistent and responsive to commands. It was a big relief to find that was the case.

The only hiccups come right after the ball is put into play and when there is a great deal of action taking place. Basically when you notice the framerate drop during offline games, it’s those same situations where the game slows to a crawl. Only those cases are magnified several times online. I haven’t found it to affect the outcome of a play for me, but it has actually caused my opponents to make a few mistakes.

MLB 2K9 falls more on the arcade side of things especially at the difficulty level that is set for online play. Scoring is high and home runs are frequent. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a good time though. I did find myself having fun for the most part but that was probably more due to how great it was to be playing with a lack of lag and good responsiveness rather than enjoying the actual gameplay.

2K decided to remove almost all the presentational elements from the online games. There is no real-time presentation events, no replays, no walk-ups, ect. Some people have been upset by this. Personally I prefer it this way. The games go by quicker and there is less chance of losing sync with your opponent. Despite that you still get the post-game highlights to watch. Clutch Performer, Top 3 Plays, and Signature Highlights.

The online league structure, stat tracking, and options are unmatched. This is the place where 2K really shines. However there are multiple problems with the leagues being reported that are causing major headaches for people trying to participate in them. Hopefully they get those things fixed soon.

This year the Home Run Derby is also offered as an online mode which was a great decision. It is always nice to have a secondary option for playing online, especially one that isn’t as time consuming as the regular games. The HR Derby fits perfectly in that role. It pits you against your opponent to see who can hit the most HRs in three minutes. I experienced no lag at all doing them.

Unfortunately it ends up being pretty pointless. It is so incredibly easy that you’ll hit a home run every time and I’m not exaggerating. I missed on the first pitch, adjusted my timing, and have hit a home run every time since. My opponents haven’t missed on a single pitch to date. The last one I played he went 51/51. So it becomes a match of who can skip the cut scene fastest saving time to get to the next pitch. Which ruined a lot of it for me too. I wanted to watch them sail out.

So basically HR Derby is something you’ll never have reason to play more than once. That to me is pretty disappointing because it has the potential to really be a fun alternative to the standard games. If they upped the difficulty it could become that.

Once again 2K has removed ranked lobby rooms which was an unpopular decision with NBA and NHL also. Ranked games are only possible through Quick Match. This has been done with the idea of leveling the field for Team 2K. It’s a shame that decisions are being made to change things in order to fit to competition that no one (including 2K) takes seriously for a variety of reasons.

While you can edit your lineups before starting up the game there have been reports of them being randomly changed by the time it loads if you do so. I haven’t attempted to change my lineups so I can’t confirm this as a common occurrence. I do appreciate that you get to pitch from the behind the pitcher view unlike The Show. It makes for a much more comfortable transition from offline to online.

Pickoffs are a big problem. You can throw anyone out at 2nd base even if they aren’t leading off. You can also pretty easily get guys at first even if they’re not leading off. This isn’t an online specific problem since the same is true offline. But while you can choose not to take advantage of it your opponents online are probably not going to be so honest.

Ultimately the biggest downside to the online play is that the game is still MLB 2K9. You’ll see the same glitches and annoyances online that you see offline. However playing against other people negates a few of the AI issues such as the hyper-aggressiveness at the plate which is refreshing. Outside of the framerate slowdown that is even more apparent in situations online the actual performance is encouraging. 2K9 does easily win out over The Show in this area but ultimately how much you can get out of it will depend on how much you like the game overall.