Ever since the MLB Extra Innings packaged moved exclusively to DirecTV, I’ve been playing MLB 2K7 for the PS3, and though I’ve never properly reviewed a video game before, I’ll give it a try.
2K7 is one of two baseball games available for the PS3 (MLB The Show being the other), and even though it takes advantage of all the horsepower the system offers, the game itself doesn’t really go beyond what other baseball sims have done before.
I will say this, the last baseball game in which I actually played one full season was World Series Baseball 2K3 for the Dreamcast, so I am favorable towards the “2K” series. Of course, nothing will ever surpass Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball for the Super Nintendo. I have fond memories of going home after school so I could, with SI’s 1994 season preview at hand, enter each player’s first and last name. Although the game had an MLB license, it didn’t have an MLBPA license, so, full logos, team names and colors, but no player names, only numbers, positions, and likenesses.
Anyhow, back to the game at hand. It does have one innovative feature, the ability for you to actually use motion in order to make the player swing the bat. It’s nothing like the Nintendo Wii, where the controller’s shape allows you to actually simulate a swing. With the PS3 (and I imagine this is the case with the Xbox 360) you thrust your SIXAXIS controller forward to swing the bat. If you tilt it slightly upward and give it a good heave, you have a good chance of hitting it out of the ball park or whiffing badly. If you tilt it downward, you will more than likely hit a grounder somewhere.
The game’s manual also says that, depending on the angle and direction you swivel your controller, you can influence the way you hit the ball. This of course, is expected to happen in the second the ball takes to travel to home plate, so, much like the Nintendo Wii, you will find people with motor skill deficiencies literally throwing their controllers at their television sets.
The graphics and player movement are the most impressive component; you can see the batter’s breath in cold weather, you can see the uniforms flapping when it’s a windy afternoon, and the crowd itself is more than a collection of repeating stick figures.
There are some nuances that are interesting; when play is stopped (ie, hitting pause, or just idling) Morgan and Miller will say “we’ll take a break to answer some fan email…” and so on (also, if you idle, the pitcher will get off the mound and circle it once); there are also trivia questions after the third inning (much like in a real ball park). And, like in real life, games can stretch out. After delivering a pitch, the pitcher will go through his typical motion, stepping off the rubber, adjusting his cap, and then settling back again for another pitch. You can bypass this by pressing a button, but either way a game generally lasts about 45 minutes.
Pitching is actually cool. The catcher positions himself and tells you were to aim your pitch; the computer then recommends which pitch to use. I’ve found that my catcher can be wrong at times, for when he sets the target high, the opposing computer will hit a home run 90% of the time.
Overall I’d say it’s a fun game; it’s actually pretty easy to get used to the SIXAXIS way of hitting (though there is a more traditional analog stick option). I started playing in rookie mode and promptly lost my first three games by a combined score of 63 to 6. I then went on a 12-game winning streak and counting (though I fear if set the game to All-Star, my .900 record will plummet).
Alas, no game is perfect, and this game has one SERIOUS flaw. In trying to replicate an actual baseball transmission, 2K Sports hired Joe Morgan and Jon Miller for the play-by-play; this is a good thing (mostly, not always). But, they also hired Jeanne Zelasko (!) to do pre-game one-liners.
I don’t know what they were trying to achieve, but now that Harold Reynolds is out of a job, I’m sure he would’ve been a much better candidate. I mean, we know how big of a corn-ball she can be, but we get treated to stuff like this:
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/D9ADsVXH89k" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
Oy! And that’s not the worse. I’ll see if I can capture some more golden Zelasko moments from 2K7.