IGN Review of Major League Baseball 2K10
If there's one thing that sports game developers need to learn, it's that console versions simply cannot be ported directly to handhelds. There needs to be some sort of give and take. Give a little in the graphics department in order for the game to have a more arcade-like feel that gamers on the go will be able to enjoy. With MLB 2K10, 2K Sports totally forgot about this rule of thumb, and instead tried to deliver a traditional baseball experience on PSP. What we get is a title with plenty of potential with the few unique modes that it tries to deliver to PSP users, but it tries too mightily to emulate what the consoles were able to produce on superior hardware and winds up falling flat because of it.
If there's one thing that I've learned since sitting down with MLB 2K10 on PSP, it's that Sony's handheld device simply doesn't have the horsepower to deliver an accurate and faithful representation of a sport. That's not to say that there aren't great sports games and won't continue to be great sports games on the system, but MLB 2K10 is not one of them. It makes hearty attempts at delivering the finer points of the sport, but the lack of technical proficiency on the hardware side holds it back. This causes players to slide along the field during animations rather than being able to have each foot stick to the turf properly. Even small elements like having a smooth swing animation are too much for the PSP to deliver. It seems like 2K Sports could have better served the sport had they delivered something with a little arcade flair thus lessening the demands for detailed, smooth animations.
MLB 2K10's issues on the field persist beyond flaws in the animation. On the default difficulty level it was entirely too difficult to get a quality hit. Computer-controlled pitchers painted corners with ease all too often, making it very annoying to compete at the plate. The batter's eye system could also use an overhaul. It's not the system itself, but it's the inaccuracy of the PSP's miniscule analog stick that is the real annoyance. For that reason, the pitching can be frustrating as well. Sometimes it feels needlessly impossible to sit the targeting reticule on the inside or outside corner, when on consoles you could do so without worry. That's more a problem with the hardware than anything else, but the annoyance is still worth mentioning. Control problems persist in the field where things are entirely too twitchy for their own good. A small flick of the analog stick can mean the difference between catching a fly ball and not, giving relatively no room for error. It was also a bad idea to default the X button to the dive function. What that translates to is a center fielder who, instead of loading a throw home, dives face first into the ground, missing the fly ball. It's funny, but incredibly annoying.
Venturing outside of the field of play, PSP users will be sad to know that not a single mode specific to their favorite handheld has been added to MLB 2K10. There are, however, some PSP-specific features that made it over from last year's game. I'm talking about the two permutations of Home Run Derby (Home Run Derby Career and the standard one-off event) and GM Career. The other two notables – The Farm and Manager Showdown – are just pieces of the standard game retrofitted into their own modes and don't deserve much attention (The Farm is playing in the minors and Manager Showdown is SuperSimming games). Home Run Derby of any kind is just plain boring in MLB 2K10. Whether you're selecting a group of three players to switch between or playing as one, the experience feels entirely hollow. There are no cheering fans, no commentators, and it's entirely too hard see the ball as it travels through the sky.
Thankfully GM Career works out a bit better. You play the role of a new general manager who has his pick of which team to oversee. Pick your team and then complete different goals set by your manager. If you complete goals, you'll be given more money to play around with. The standard gameplay is identical to what you'll find in an exhibition game, but it's the cool structure of GM Career mode that will have some playing through the 162-game season.
Sadly each of those games takes an unfortunately long amount of time to complete. The standard "press X to skip through cutscenes" mechanic doesn't work all that well with the slow-loading UMD, so things that would have taken five seconds, now take eight. That doesn't sound like much of an increase, but when you're used to completing six hundred five-second tasks during one game, the few-seconds increase is certainly painstaking. Of course the trudging game speed is made worse by the fact that commentary is incredibly slow to load. Once again, this is thanks to the lack of speed on the part of the UMD.
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