IGN Review of Major League Baseball 2K9
The MLB 2K series is in trouble, and there's no real doubt about it. Anyone who played the PS3 or 360 versions of 2K9 will be able to tell you that the series has certainly seen better days. The PSP version, much like the current-gen versions, still has plenty of issues to show. While it doesn't have nearly the glitz, glamour or feature set of its current-gen brethren, Major League Baseball 2K9 on PSP still manages to offer a respectable representation of America's favorite pastime.
One of the only truly new features in MLB 2K9 as far as the PSP version goes is the new commentary duo in the box. Gary Thorne and Steve Phillips suffer from the limitations of the UMD quite a bit and don't sound nearly as true-to-life as they do on consoles. Their observations are occasionally insightful, but they almost always happen after the action thanks to the load time. I once had two outfielders collide while trying to make a catch without so much as a peep from the two in the booth. All I got was a "routine fly ball to left."
Those who have played the PS3 and 360 versions of 2K9 know that it's a choppy affair. After every hit the camera pans to the crowd and things get jittery. Not here. The action is generally locked at a smooth 30 frames per second no matter what's happening on the field. Much like the PS2 version, MLB 2K9 on PSP uses camera angles to hide things that might slow down gameplay. Sadly, one of these angles makes absolutely no sense and is counter-intuitive to effective fielding. It happens on infield grounders and can be extremely jarring.
MLB 2K9 on the PSP does benefit from ditching the right analog pitch controls. Some like them, some don't, but in this version it's all about the classic face button pitching. You hold a button and the power circle expands; you press it again when it contracts to its smallest point. It might not be as (marketing keyword) "immersive" as the right analog stick interaction, but it feels more natural when playing a videogame rendition of baseball.
Hitting, something that has also made use of the right analog mechanic in other versions of 2K, ditches the stick in favor of classic button control on PSP. It's too bad, too, as this was the single analog mechanic that I actually enjoyed in the other versions of this game. On PSP, the hitting is totally based on pressing the X button. That's it. It isn't nearly as true to life as on consoles and it even lacks a power/contact interface. Instead, hitting a homerun is the same as hitting a grounder, which feels very unnatural.
Modes in MLB 2K9 include the standard offering. There's GM Career, Franchise and Season, all of which follow a similar path of letting you control different aspects of a club. The Farm is a brand new facet of your club in 2K9 on PSP, and it lets you play games as your minor league affiliation. It isn't all that exciting, but it's something that baseball diehards should enjoy. There are also supplementary modes like Homerun Derby and custom situations to wade through. The most entertaining of the non-career based modes is Homerun Derby Career, something that has been around on PSP for some time. It's fun, simple, and would be just about perfect if not for the painfully long load times between rounds.
Ad-hoc play is here, and performs as well as you'd expect judging from the rest of the package. Gameplay is much more jittery than in solo play with longer loads in between plays and plenty of animation hitches to go around. Thankfully we never lost connection and the lag ranged from slight to non-existent at times.
Aesthetically 2K9 is what you'd expect from a PSP game. Edges are rough, player models are very angular, and animations aren't all that fluid. The problem with the animations can be seen during batting where there's a seriously painful hitch when your player makes contact with the ball. It's still a smooth overall experience with very few framerate drops, but oddities like the one I just mentioned and seams on infield grass textures are plain bad.
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