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Roundup: MLB 2K11 vs. MLB 11 The Show

Greg Tito | 1 Apr 2011 22:15
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Hitting

Stepping up to the plate in MLB 2K11 is as daunting as it was in Little League, at least if you suffer from shitty timing like I do. Experts say you have a split second to decide whether you are going to swing at a pitch, and while that is slowed somewhat in videogames, I thought the swing decisions in MLB 2K11 felt the most natural. To swing, you push up on the stick for a contact base hit kind of swing, but you only pull back and then push forward if you want to hit the ball out of the yard. If you just want to put bat on ball, move the stick to either side for a defensive swing which you'll hopefully foul off harmlessly but could result in weak ground balls and pop outs. To aid you in making the split-second decision of whether to hit, batters with a high eye stat can get a quick hint of the type and location of each pitch.

The Show forces you to pull back and push forward with every swing, which was way harder for me to time. Switching between contact or power swings is a button press, which is a pain in the butt if, like me, you forgot to do choose before each swing. You can also guess what each pitch will be by pausing play and pressing a button that corresponds to the pitches in a hurler's repertoire. By picking the right one, you supposedly get a bonus to hit on the swing, but I found stopping and starting before the pitch very distracting. The other thing I didn't like is that umpires are not perfect in The Show and pitches that are out of the strike zone will not always be called balls. I enjoy a bit of realism in my videogames, but it's damnably frustrating to get rung up with a curveball that's clearly off the plate by a computer that's programmed to be wrong.

Fielding

If a batter somehow hits your perfect pitch, control immediately switches to the fielder in the best position to field the ball. Generally. It's still a little difficult to cycle through different defenders, but simply getting to a ball isn't usually a problem. If a ball is hit in the air in MLB 2K11, a large white circle appears and catching the pop up is a matter of moving your player into the circle and under the ball. You don't have to press anything to make the catch, just be in the right place. Throwing to each base is accomplished through pushing the right stick in the desired direction, and holding it to fill up a meter until it's green will result in a hard accurate throw. If you go too far into the red, the throw will either pull the recipient off the base or sail over his head for an error, and I liked that fielders with better arms have a much easier time throwing across the diamond or gunning down runners at home.

Popups are handled similarly in The Show but how good the fielder is will determine the kind of jump he gets to react. Manny Ramirez is often frozen for a few seconds as he judges the ball while the speedy Ichiro Suzuki will jump right on it. Diving catches or trying to rob a home run by jumping over the fence is tough to time just right, and it feels safer to let the ball fall in front of you for a single than giving up a triple by letting it go behind you. To throw, holding the stick toward the base you want to throw it will make it stronger, but the UI animation beneath the fielder makes it hard to determine how much oomph is just enough. And sometimes, even if you're perfectly positioned and ready for that ground ball, you'll just boot it. Again, such realism is laudable in a sports simulation, but it's still frustrating as hell.

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