MLB 2K11 Quick First Day Impressions

Posted March 8th, 2011 at 6:30 pm

Given that 2K Sports didn’t send out copies to reviewers prerelease, something that is typically a very bad sign for major titles, I thought it important to get up some early thoughts on the game for those who may be on the fence. Pretty quickly I have come across what is probably the reason why reviewers didn’t get the game. The CPU AI is atrocious. There are certainly aspects to the game I like quite a bit, but something as critical as CPU AI can not just be overlooked. This by no means represents a full evaluation of the game however but when issues are seen this early they likely aren’t going to be explained away as anomalies.

As seen in the screenshot below, the CPU left in Jonathan Broxton for six innings and he likely would have been in longer if not for the walk-off home run I hit (which was a cool moment otherwise). Needless to say that should never happen regardless of game situation. There were several prime opportunities to pinch hit for Broxton and not only did the CPU choose not to, but Broxton didn’t even bunt a guy into scoring position with no outs. That at least could have made a little sense.

There are several AI related issues that are cropping up and that’s only a couple hours in. Poor roster management seems to be the most obvious culprit so far as demonstrated by the Dodgers. I also just completed a game where the CPU didn’t bring in their closer in the 9th inning with a 7-4 lead, though he was warming in the pen, instead sticking with a middle reliever in his third inning of work. There are a number of bugs coming to light, with the wall glitch that allows players to warp through and catch home runs residing in the retail version just as it did in the demo, and player fatigue not factoring in properly within Franchise mode.

Then you have just the simple stuff…like how after pinch hitting for the pitcher the game places the position player on the mound until the pitcher is selected to come in. Fielding a pop fly looks awkward because the landing circle starts out solid, before dissipating and revealing a much smaller circle. This usually results in a player being in the general vicinity and having to make a lunge for the ball at the last second.

It is quite disappointing because I really want to like this game. There is a fresh feel to it that is pretty engaging. I prefer the hitting and fielding/throwing system to the competition, and presentation wise particularly as it relates to the commentary it is really well positioned. There is a sense of contact on hits that feels great and the camera angle when the ball is put into play turns out to be an excellent change. Loading times are also brisk which is a relief compared to the competition. I do really like that MLB Today has its own unique spring training games already accessible and that feature will just get better when the real games get going.

Graphically the game is simply rough to look at having gone from one game to the other. Player faces range from decent to grotesque, the stadiums look flat, and the framerate even slows down at times when the ball is in play. I’m not sure what happened because framerate was cleared up well last year, and there certainly hasn’t been a graphical improvement this year to blame framerate issues on.

Sadly it feels as though this could be a very enjoyable game that is wrecked by poor AI and an array of bugs. These are just the notes I’ve taken thus far in a few hours of play time. I’m working on broadcast camera angles for each stadium to post up tomorrow. Otherwise keep an eye on Twitter for further impressions until a full write-up on the game can be formulated.