9 Innings Baseball 2011 Impressions

Posted June 18th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Finally a legitimate sports game has come to Android while it has been available on iOS as well for some time now. During all the traveling involved with the E3 trip I downloaded 9 Innings Baseball 2011 and was impressed with the total package especially given that the game is free for Android and only .99 on iOS devices.

9 Innings Baseball includes the MLB Players Association license which means real players and authentic rosters – though the team logos are fake they still have some recognizable traits. The rosters were even updated recently.

Beyond the season mode and home run derby is the element of card collecting that comes into play in improving player skills and building up teams. Throughout games when different tasks are accomplished points are awarded and then those points are used to upgrade the player cards or purchase packs of cards. Manager and cheerleader cards even come into play.

There is a surprising level of gameplay depth included for a mobile offering. Real baseball strategy pays off though understandably this isn’t a game where the user is likely to be patient at the plate and the CPU puts most balls into play. Taking that into consideration pitch counts will drain stamina faster than a completely sim game which makes sense. Moving up to the higher difficulty setting becomes necessary for a challenge. Managerial wise you can adjust the rotation, change lineups, make pitching changes, and stats in season mode are tracked.

The controls work really well and are quite responsive. For pitching the available pitch types will come up first to select from, and area to locate the pitch is chosen next, and then a circle closes in for timing – the more focused the circle is when the tap is made the more accuracy it receives. When a pitcher is rattled or tired it becomes considerably more difficult to spot them. Hitting is primarily timing based as far as I’ve been able to determine and requires just tapping on the screen to swing. Fielding is better implemented than I would have predicted with four spots to tap corresponding to the bases along with a general infield button to simply throw in or cut-off.

One difficulty discovered is in determining deep fly balls and what is happening when the ball is still in the air. It isn’t visible on screen whether the outfielder is in position to make a play or not until right before the ball is about to drop. Now, you’re not controlling the players, but this can still create mistakes on the base paths or in throwing to the proper base if the ball falls in.

Another gripe comes in the way ads are displayed and get in the way of things. I would prefer to pay a few bucks to have them removed. There currently isn’t a premium version available. I also found that over a full nine innings things start to feel somewhat tedious by the end and the full 162 game season schedule is simply daunting. It’s also a slight disappointment that there is no online play component.

Ultimately it’s hard to take much issue with 9 Innings Baseball 2011. For a free/cheap app it is well regarded by many and I’ve just discovered it. It has become the first legit sports game to hold a place on my Android phone.

9 Innings Baseball 2011 is available in the Android Market for FREE or for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad for 99 cents.