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Soon the Super Bowl will be played, signaling the beginning of winter doldrums in sports. Basketball and hockey soldier on through the middle of their respective seasons, resting the stars and making the trades necessary to compete in the spring playoffs. What to do, what to do? Ah, yes, we have baseball. How could I forget about America’s old stand-by. The sport that keeps us in our seats, as we drink beer and eat peanuts through the dog days of summer.
[image1]The folks at 2K Sports are on it when it comes to the video game (and slightly more entertaining) version. When MLB 2K10 dropped last year, a lot of attention was given to the revamped gameplay. There were, however, a few complaints as well. Too many bugs that needed to be ironed out. Zombie-eyed players and robotic ambience took the gamer out of the ballpark.
Visual Concepts have heard your complaints and immediately went to work on fixing them. Number on the fix-it list: fielding. Gamers all too often found it frustrating when chasing down a fly or stopping grounders. MLB 2K11 has totally revamped the system. When getting under a pop fly, a shadow will pop up immediately. That is the general area that the ball will land. A second, yellow shadow will pop up to tell you exactly where the ball will land. The size of the yellow shadow will be directly tied to your players’ fielding rating.
Not only has the game changed for good ratings, but bad ratings will result in dropped and bobbled balls and overthrows by fat third basemen in San Francisco. Every fielding animation has been redone as well. They are all based off of tiers of skill, so when you bare-hand a grounder as Derek Jeter, or do anything as a fat third baseman for the Giants, the animation will reflect that in a super-realistic way.
Like the true-life version, MLB 2K11 comes down to the little things. Choppers and infield flys have been added, and will only occur when you have a bad swing. Conversely, getting good wood on the ball (not like that…) gets it straight to Triple Alley. In the background, you can see base coaches make signals and advise their base runners, while pitchers swear angrily into their gloves when they give up a dinger. Stars like Roy Halladay (cover boy this year) and Tim Lincecum were motion captured doing all the things they do while playing a game. (No word on crotch scratching or a joint-rolling animation.)
[image2]These changes may seem like polish, and that may be exactly what they are. 2K Sports put out a quality baseball game last year as far as fundamentals go. 2K11 looks to put out a quality baseball game as far as everything else goes.
When going down the checklist of fundamental baseball skills needed to play a game, the list is not so long. Throwing? Check. Catching? Check. Swinging a bat? Check. Well, that about wraps up the preview for MLB 2K… wait… what’s that, Visual Concepts? I have forgotten the most important baseball skill of all? Ah, yes. How could I forget?
Stat keeping! 2K11 once again has a 30-day rolling average of every player's real-life stats to keep the game as accurate as possible. Also, while playing, you can bring up the stats of the batter, pitcher, and every situation possible in every type of ballpark. As we all know, it's near impossible to manage baseball without a accounting degree.
MLB 2K11 steps up to the batters’ box just in time for spring training on March 8th, 2011.