While MLB 11 The Show is the only officially licensed first party baseball game exclusive to the Sony consoles, MLB 2K11 is gearing up to be a serious competitor. 2K Sports has already been successful at knocking off other franchises in sports games, so it could be a fierce match-up for both games at launch in the 2nd week of March. Both games have received graphical and technical enhancements, making it a somewhat difficult decision for indecisive gamers to pick one over the other.
Let’s start with the cover athletes. MLB 11 The Show features catcher Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins, standing 6′ 5″, 230 lbs, and was a 1st round pick (and 1st overall) by the Twins. He’s been in the league since 2001 and is still in his late twenties. Even though he is still rather young, he has had some knee problems, which may or may not affect how well he performs in the game. For MLB 2K11, pitcher Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies will be gracing the cover, at a inch taller than Mauer at 6′ 6″, 230 lbs, but was picked 17th in the 1st round of the draft back in 1995. He is apparently in good physical condition, which could have an effect on how well the game, that features him on the cover, does with gaming sports fans.
Alright, lets get down to the good stuff. MLB 2K11 got a pretty major graphics overhaul that might mirror a change between console generations, with how well done the player models are turning out. Heather Marshall, Art Director of MLB 2K11, said “we aimed to reach a higher level of graphic quality across the board. We focused on player likenesses, lighting, uniforms, and overall realism.” 2K Sports wasn’t just saying they aimed for a higher level of realism, they accomplished it as compared to what was available in MLB 2K10. The difference between the 2 games, in their case, is pretty major and is certainly noteworthy.
Don’t be too quick to count MLB 11 The Show out of the graphical running, just yet. While it isn’t boasting new player models, they still look pretty darn good. The Show proudly represents itself as the most true-to-life experience a gamer can have in a baseball simulation game. This year, the game introduces new weather effects that are making the experience just that more closer to real life. These new weather elements include rain and dynamic cloud coverage. The rain will take into account stadium locations and can be expected to affect the action and results taking place on-field. Adding to the realism are the redesigned stadium specific jumbotrons, which will reflect the actual look and feel of all real-life ballpark jumbotron displays.
Now for the things that might actually matter the most while playing, the control mechanics. Pitching in MLB 2K11 is driven by two factors, ratings and gestures. Of course, the higher rated pitchers will have an easier time throwing and more room for error. Even when the gestures aren’t as precise as you’d like, the throw will still be generally where you want it. It is when you use a lower rated pitcher, and have gestures that are all over the place, that you will throw pitches that are almost completely unpredictable. When hitting, a poorly timed swing can lead to in-field singles that could be advantageous to either the offense or defense, depending on the movement of the hit. Finally, what more could be done to improve the mechanics off the ball, than with the physics control that is influencing how the ball moves around the field. Depending on the surface, the ball will react to whatever it comes in contact with, whether it be dirt, grass, turf, or brick.
MLB 2K11 continues to include and build upon their Total Control system, which is nothing new for those who have played the previous releases. This is where The Show may be playing a little catch-up, seeing as the game is finally including its own version of the control scheme, with their analog based controls named the Pure Analog Control System. This new system uses the right analog stick to perform accurate motions that can make pitching, hitting, and throwing more precise.
While loyal fans of either franchise will most likely continue to support their favorite, it will be a hard choice for those just looking into this MLB based game madness. Neither title has enough to clearly dominate the other, and looks like it will be left up to the gamers and fans. Both titles are due March 8, 2011, so make a decision and enjoy your pick for the extras and presentation that either title will proudly bring to your console of choice.