IGN Review of Major League Baseball 2K7
When it comes to portable sports titles for the PSP, it's extremely tricky to squeeze the full experience from the console version of the game onto the UMDs. The size of the discs can restrict a number of features, such as commentary, camera angles and even game modes because it just can't fit on the disc. Incredibly in 2K6, 2K Sports managed to squeeze just about every feature of the console onto the diminutive UMD. Unfortunately, the tiny package also showcased a number of flaws. While 2K Sports tried to fix all of the problems that cropped up in last year's game for this year's title, MLB 2K7 for the PSP winds up with just about every single issue from last year completely intact, making it much less of a title than you'd expect.
First of all, let's take a look at some of the problematic areas of the game, which haven't particularly changed as much as we'd hoped. Last year, baserunning was a large hassle on the PSP thanks to the limited control scheme. Since there weren't controls to dictate which runner you were advancing or retreating, it was extremely frustrating to accurately round the bases and avoid getting tagged at one base or another. For one reason or another, this limited base running system hasn't been changed one single bit, meaning that you're still guessing which runner you're trying to move at any particular point in time. This shouldn't be a hard thing to fix: simply making one of the base runners flash when you select them would be an easy way to delineate between players, but for some reason, this isn't implemented.
Similarly, players will still have to smack the button for a particular base at least two or three times to make the game recognize that you're trying to select that runner. This no longer seems to be a situation of trying to queue up bases for a runner to advance to - it now seems as if the mechanic is just too flawed to respond to commands. Either it's that, or the lag exhibited between commands and action is one of those intangible features that simply can't be reconciled within the portable programming. This lag also carries over to rounding the bases as well. As you play 2K7, you'll notice that regardless of how many times you try to force a player to advance by hitting the "advance" button, the runners will still hesitate before they continue. I wish that this was cleaner, but it's still just as much of a pain as ever before.
Unfortunately, fielding with the analog nub is just as painful as it was in last year's game. While there does seem to be a slight amount of attention paid to the improving the cuts towards a fly ball or a ground ball, players will still inexplicably veer off in a different direction than the one you're trying to move them in. Some of this is due to the insensitive analog nub, but some of this has to be due to some odd glitches that spin players around in place as you're trying to line them up to make a play.
Fighting to get your players in the right spot to make a play isn't the only problem that you'll have to contend with. Just like the baserunning, if you want to throw the ball, you have to hit the corresponding button at least two or three times before your player will actually respond to your command. If you don't, you'll quickly find that your outfielders will start running with the ball still in their hands without throwing it to a cutoff man or an infielder. Now, since you're not going to "queue up" throws, it's inexcusable that the programming reacts this way for defense, and even worse that this hasn't changed at all from last year to this year.
It's also indefensible that the game still allows for in the park homeruns because your players won't pickup a ball that happens to be directly in front of them. Unlike the console version of the game, where players would be considered to be out of position to make a play on the ball, you can throw a shortstop or an outfielder on top of a ball and yet they still won't pick it up. In fact, even after the baserunners have cleared the paths and scored, you'll still be stuck waiting for the game to recognize that you don't have the ball in your hands before you can continue playing. This is just shoddy object detection on MLB 2K7's part. Then again, that's if a baseman or a catcher will actually make the effort to tag a player that's near them. Often, these players will simply stand around as rival players slide safely past them, even if they have the ball and are a step away.
Now even with the numerous glitches that return for this year's game, there are some new game modes for players to check out. The first one is The Farm, which lets you pit one AAA squad against each other in a meaningless exhibition game. While you can still earn tokens to help you unlock additional items, cheats and uniforms in your Skybox, this is the only way that you can engage with a farm club in the game - even the Franchise and GM Career mode only lets you send players down to the minors and call them back up via text screens. The other new mode is the Pennant Race, which lets you bypass the earlier games of the year to focus solely upon the last weeks of the season.
While the other modes for the game (with the exception of the World Baseball Classic) make a return to MLB 2K7, only the Franchise/GM Career receives a significant change thanks to the facelift to the mode's menu system. Copying the changes made to the console versions of the game, the Buzz Box, stat tracking windows and menu bars provide a host of game information at your fingertips. It's extremely easy to navigate, and easier still to control the fate of your club, although the limited economics from the console versions haven't been included in the PSP build. Guess that only worrying about tickets is too much for the PSP to handle.
Speaking of hard for the system to handle, there are some strange visual quirks that wind up plaguing the gameplay every now and then. During transitional scenes between innings, you'll notice a certain amount of slowdown that makes the game chug suddenly. Even stranger, the game will display random glitches such as baserunners that will continue running along the paths through the outfield to the stadium walls until the game finally realizes that it's the other team's turn at bat. This happened last year, and once again it hasn't been fixed at all. While the presentational elements to the game, such as the K Cam, home run replays and other camera angles look good on the PSP's small screen, the indistinct faces on players and crowd members alike hurts the visuals of the game. Similarly, the slowdown is extremely jarring when you notice it, as if the game engine couldn't accurately render the character models. The lengthy load times that pop up here and there don't help the overall game, either.
Just like last year, the commentary for MLB 2K7 is still good thanks to Jon Miller and Joe Moran, but you'll notice many of the same recycled lines from last year. Similarly, you'll find that the tracks are often one to two plays behind, making Jon and Joe's comments feel stale and obsolete with the onscreen action. The soundtrack has been augmented this year, however, to feature a few more songs from the console soundtrack instead of solely replaying the theme over and over again.
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