MLB 2K9 Review for the XBOX 360.

There have been many complaints it seems scattered across the message boards at various gaming websites about this game. 

First, this game seems much, much better than the past two versions.  Two versions in which I actually disliked playing after a while because the gameplay was so incredibly flawed.  The computer threw what seemed like 80% “pure-strikes,” and it was nearly impossible to draw a walk. 

I don’t necessarily play baseball games because of a desire to stand there and take a walk.  But it was almost impossible to do so, and took away from the realism. 

The pitchers also fatigued very early when the sliders were set at their default, often having my starter needing relief help after 4 innings. 

And of course, for some reason, I could never seem to get the difficulty right.  It was too hard, not giving me a chance.  Or too easy, where I wouldn’t allow more than one run a game. 

I toggled with the “sliders” and still was very disappointed.  So I traded in last years version for a used headset, because mine broke.

But anyway, 2K9 is clearly better.  There are a few flaws, but the enjoyment has been there so far.

First, the computer by default has at least thrown more pitches out of the strike zone–which is a positive.  Now, if I choose, maybe I can actually draw a walk.

Many people have complained about the fielding aspect of the game, but I haven’t had any trouble at all except for a few online misplays.  And anyone who plays online knows that the connection dictates some of the outcome.  When the ball is hit, it may slow down a little, glitch some, etc, resulting in a misplayed ball.  But I have played 10 or 11 online games and misplayed probably three balls, so it isn’t an overwhelming problem.

The players and details are pretty amazing.  Something the game has done well with in the past.  They look realistic, and that does matter, although the gameplay is more important. 

The one problem that I have encountered, and others have too, is that they don’t always look to where they are throwing.  For example, if the ball is singled to left, and I throw to second, the fielder will throw the ball there, but he might be looking toward home.  This doesn’t happen all the time, just some of the time.  As long as the ball goes where I want it to, then I am okay with it.  But for a game in this day and age, it does seem to be a somewhat stupid flaw that should have been addressed. 

Hitting does seem to be a little easier than it should, even on the difficulty that I play on.  It seems like the overall “Line Drive%” is like 50% on balls in play, which is way too high. 

But this can be avoided in online play, to some extent.  Online players sometimes complain when balls are thrown out of the strike zone.  Which makes it less fun, obviously.  If “only strikes” are thrown, then the game ends up being like 20-17.  That is stupid.  It is definitely difficult to lay off pitches thrown out of the strike zone, especially if they break in the dirt.  But side to side, isn’t quite as hard (although I did have trouble when one guy kept throwing the two-seamer that broke away from me, and the slider that broke in, or vice-versa).  But it makes it more fun.

I just played a game in which I lost 6-3.  Isn’t that much more realistic then those high-scoring offensive shootouts?  More fun, too? 

Anyway, I am like 10-3 in online play, and so far have enjoyed the online games very, very much. 

But I have only played three games on the default difficulty and my record is 3-0.  So I have not played nearly enough games to pickup on any true flaws that the computer has.  Only the intentional walk which doesn’t make any sense, which happens on occasion.  But I will need to play more games, to give an accurate review of the franchise mode.  Although, as fun as online play has been, I can’t say that I will be playing much of the franchise, even more so because I signed up for my first “Online League” ever. 

But in the franchise mode, I of course did a fantasy draft, this time with the Orioles.  It was serpentine mode, kind of like in a regular fantasy draft.  So there was no way for me to cheat the game or anything. 

Lineup w/DH:

1. Brian Roberts 2B
2. Geovany Soto C
3. Grady Sizemore CF
4. Pat Burrell DH
5. Brian Giles RF
6. Frank Thomas 1B
7. Garret Anderson LF
8. Andy Laroche 3B
9. Troy Tulowitzki

Brian Roberts, in the game, was still only under contract for a season, and that is the big reason why I drafted him.  For some reason I found myself avoiding expensive contracts, even though IT IS a video game. 

As for Frank Thomas?  I avoided the 1B position along with the corner OF’s for a while in the draft.  And the result was three players that aren’t exactly great, however all three are on one-year contracts.  Meaning there is no long-term commitment.  And Giles did have a good year last season.  Frank Thomas can still hit a little too, well, probably anyway.  Tulo should be batting a little higher in the lineup, again, I haven’t messed with it much because I have been playing online.

Rotation:

Verlander
Garza
Smoltz
Sanchez
Hughes (Buchholz in the minors, too)
Nate Robertson as depth in the minors as well

Bullpen:
Putz
Betancourt
Saito
Okajima
Balfour
R. Ramirez

The rotation I am very happy with, especially having both Hughes and Buchholz.

And the bullpen is stacked, as you see. 

The team has a theme, young players have longer deals.  Veterans have one-year deals.  Roberts’ extension wouldn’t be bad, but I avoided as spending any real money on this team.  I have $89 million to spend, and only have a payroll of $57 million at the MLB level, and $17 million at the minor league level, allowing me to spend, leaving me with roughly $16 million to spare. 

My defense is set up the middle, and all the players can hit too.  The corners are somewhat challenged defensively, but whatever, all of their contracts expire after my 52 game season anyway.

But the game is definitely fun to play online, and although I cannot speak too much for franchise mode, the game is worth picking up iof your internet connection doesn’t hinder online play.     

 

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12 comments

  1. roundrock15

    I actually liked 2K8 for the most part, despite its flaws (and they were many and varied, don’t get me wrong.) I hadn’t played a baseball video game in a long time, so it was a major step up from what I’d remembered.

    I got 2K9 and haven’t put a LOT of time into it, but like you I immediately loved that I could actually draw walks. Not only that, but I could foul pitches off and keep at-bats alive. It’s a lot more realistic than any game I can remember.

    My problems with it are few (though I haven’t played it a ton yet)… I would prefer to at least have the option of automated fielding. I guess this is part of video gaming, but I am not adept at immediately picking up which fielder I am supposed to be, ascertaining the correct angle for my stick, and then getting to the spot in time. What’s more, I’ve had a lot of balls roll right through fielders, and have had guys just stand on top of the ball and not pick it up.

    Baserunning is still clunky, and I feel like I’m mashing buttons half the time, but I suspect that will come with more practice. Overall, I’m really very pleased with it. (And Julia – Pedroia’s on the cover of The Show… this one has Lincecum on the cover). šŸ˜‰

    http://houston.mlblogs.com

  2. roundrock15

    I actually liked 2K8 for the most part, despite its many and varied flaws. After not playing any baseball video game for about 5 years, it seemed pretty good to me.

    2K9 kicks its butt, though. I have had fielding issues with players not picking balls up (it’s happened both to me and to the CPU). But gone is the 2K8 system, where David Ortiz and Jason Giambi would routinely make great diving stops on line drives.

    And yes, I absolutely LOVE that I can draw walks now!! I have some problems – every time I try for a sac fly, I get a home run (poor me, I know, but it does get a little unrealistic at times); baserunning is very clunky, but may improve with practice; and I really wish I could automate the fielding and focus on batter-versus-pitcher, but overall I’m pleased in the limited playing time so far. (But, Julia, The Show has Pedroia… this one has Lincecum on the cover.) šŸ˜‰

    http://houston.mlblogs.com

  3. roundrock15

    I actually liked 2K8 for the most part, despite its many and varied flaws. After not playing any baseball video game for about 5 years, it seemed pretty good to me.

    2K9 kicks its butt, though. I have had fielding issues with players not picking balls up (it’s happened both to me and to the CPU). But gone is the 2K8 system, where David Ortiz and Jason Giambi would routinely make great diving stops on line drives.

    And yes, I absolutely LOVE that I can draw walks now!! I have some problems – every time I try for a sac fly, I get a home run (poor me, I know, but it does get a little unrealistic at times); baserunning is very clunky, but may improve with practice; and I really wish I could automate the fielding and focus on batter-versus-pitcher, but overall I’m pleased in the limited playing time so far. (But, Julia, The Show has Pedroia… this one has Lincecum on the cover.) šŸ˜‰

    http://houston.mlblogs.com

  4. roundrock15

    I actually liked 2K8 for the most part, despite its many and varied flaws. After not playing any baseball video game for about 5 years, it seemed pretty good to me.

    2K9 kicks its butt, though. I have had fielding issues with players not picking balls up (it’s happened both to me and to the CPU). But gone is the 2K8 system, where David Ortiz and Jason Giambi would routinely make great diving stops on line drives.

    Overall I’m pleased in the limited playing time so far. (But, Julia, The Show has Pedroia… this one has Lincecum on the cover.) šŸ˜‰

    http://houston.mlblogs.com

  5. PWHjort

    The only baseball games I’ve played other than the greatest baseball game ever, Major League Baseball Featuring Ken Griffey Jr. for N64 (1998), are MVP 2005 and the one from EA Sports (I forgot what it’s called) 2008, both for playstation 2.. The 2008 one blows because Joe Morgan is an announcer for it and it’s hard to pitch (I also should mention that I suck terribly at playstation). The 2005 one has some really annoying announcers too (not half as bad as Morgan though). Plus there’s not nearly as many features as 2008. They both suck IMO. I’d like to get the show 2009, but nobody I know owns a game system that will run it.

  6. raysrenegade

    Wow,
    3 Rays on your squad.
    Someone I picked up recently who I think is going to have a breakout year is Joey Votto.
    I do not know why, but I think he is just on the cusp of figuring it all out in the batter’s box.
    Great selections. I would love to hear how they play up against some of the big boys.

    Rays Renegade

    http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

  7. joefromnewhampshire

    Rays, you know this is a video game and not fantasy baseball right? You said “picked up” so I didn’t know if you were thinking that I play fantasy baseball, because I do not.

  8. roundrock15

    Stepping off-topic, I think Votto is going to be special this year. In fact, I think the Reds could get very good years out of him and Bruce, and might sneak in with either the WC or maybe even the NL Central if things fall apart for the Cubs (always a strong possibility.)

    I drafted my fantasy franchise on MLB 2K9 and this is what I wound up with (as the Royals): 1) CF Grady Sizemore, 2) SS Yunel Escobar, 3) 1B Adrian Gonzalez, 4) DH Ken Griffey, Jr. 5) 3B Edwin Encarnacion, 6) LF Marcus Thames, 7) RF Wladimir Balentien, 8) 2B Reid Brignac, 9) C J.R. Towles

    Talent was thin at 2B and C, so I just decided to wait it out. I hit really well with Brignac, and I expect him to be the rookie of the year. Five games in and he’s hitting .415… haha.

    http://houston.mlblogs.com

  9. joefromnewhampshire

    I just upped the difficulty and have found pitching to be very easy so far. I hope that the increase in difficulty changes that. What does your pitching staff look like?

  10. roundrock15

    That’s where my team excels. Hamels, Verlander, Duchscherer, Parra, and Byrd in the rotation; Soria, Balfour, Howell, Saito, Springer, Mike Adams, and Gregg Olson in the bullpen. Pitching is a little too easy (I liked having the release point in 2K8), but getting strikeouts is nigh impossible for me. Also, as I’ve been playing it more the clunky baserunning is becoming more and more irritating, and I seem to keep running into fielding glitches. Or, worse, I’ve had at least 2 instances where the opposing team ended up with a runner on second, and when it went to the next batter, the runner was gone and a run had scored! Wha…

    http://houston.mlblogs.com

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