Like most sports games these days, MLB 2K11 offers the full range of game modes such as quick play, season, franchise and My Player. The quick play gets information from the interwebs on what games are being played that day in real life, allowing you to jump to say, Arlington, TX, to play the Ranger's Opening Day game. (Go Sox!) The season and franchise modes predictably allow you to manage your favorite teams through the rigors of injuries, minor league call ups and playoff chases but to 2K's credit you can get involved as much as you want by automating "unfun" actions. The My Player mode lets you create a minor leaguer with a robust customization process and play through mini challenges each like Get on Base or in my case, Don't Strike Out, and rewards you with skill points that you can use to increase a huge variance of skills.
In The Show, you have a lot of the same options in season and franchise modes, but a lot of the functions are hidden in a tiny interface in the bottom of the screen. One of the new features this year is the ability to play cooperatively with up to four people and split up responsibilities such as covering infield or outfield, or picking which players to control at the plate. Sony revamped the Road to The Show mode this year but instead of the challenges of MLB 2K11, you are judged based on each at bat or fielding opportunity and receive points that way. The customization options at first seem more robust but it's a little hard to fine tune how your player looks. I mean, I just want to make a ball player with a big bushy afro. Is that so hard, Sony?
The menus and presentation of MLB 2K11 are signature 2K Sports, but its style could use a redesign. Each individual player looks pretty much like his real-life counterpart but there are a few question marks. Even the amazing beard of San Francisco's closer Brian Wilson could use a little more "magic." The representations of major league ballparks look good but the overall graphics don't do anything to impress. The announcing team of Steve Phillips, Gary Thorne, and John Kruk gets a little old, repeating phrases often without a clear prompting.
In contrast, The Show looks wonderful. The impressive effect of the shiny helmets reflecting what it looks like on the field is amazing and each player looks distinct. It may be a small thing, but I just loved the ability to switch what my menus and launch screen looked like by picking a favorite team. The announcers may be a three guys you couldn't pick out of a lineup (Eric Karros, Matt Vasgersian and Dave Campbell) but the programming for what they say and when is infinitely smoother than MLB 2K11. I could - and I have a few times while waiting for the season to begin - listen to the simulation of a game with these three guys talking about the game.
Both MLB 2K11 and MLB 11 The Show are great seventh generation simulations of the game of baseball but each have their strengths and weaknesses. If I had to count which one felt better to me, I'd have to give the Golden Glove, Silver Slugger, Cy Young and MVP award to MLB The Show.