MLB 2K11 is a baseball experience that most gamers and fans of the national pastime can enjoy. For casual gamers with the Nintendo Wii, however, you'll be left wanting more.
The basic ingredients are all there, and they work well. Every pitcher has unique pitches, some players run the bases faster than others, and hitting is tough. The mechanics are there, but the Wii version of the game doesn't offer innovation. Baseball games I played on my original Nintendo had all the same features. It has been 25 years, but it's the same gameplay with better graphics.
The Wii, which is underpowered compared to Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3, is part of the problem. Versions of the game on those consoles include a robust new ratings system for players that updates with how real players are doing.
They also include revamped fielding systems that feature improved ways to throw, catch fly balls and make plays at home plate. The "My Player" career mode also has seen some tweaks.
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The Wii isn't without its perks. The version includes home run derby, franchise and tournament modes. Also, to appeal to casual gamers, it features a multiplayer mode in stadiums including a low-gravity park and a circus-themed one.
In general, sporting games are always a tough genre. Most video games are limited only by the developers' imaginations. Sports games have to mirror real life to be successful, and that's difficult. It's not impossible; Gran Turismo is a great example of a game world mimicking real life. Unfortunately, the Wii version of MLB 2K11 feels a bit forced. The gameplay is there, but there is not that one feature that keeps me coming back for more.
But if all you want is baseball and don't own last year's version, MLB 2K11 will do the job. You can play as all your favorite players in all your favorite stadiums. The controls are easy to learn, so you can challenge your friends from the start. For some players, that will be enough to satisfy their sporting needs.
The announcing is great, too. Normally, when a sports game has announcers, you're tired of their repetitiveness after one game. Not so with MLB 2K11. John Kruk, Steve Phillips and Gary Thorne do a great job keeping the announcing fresh. It doesn't say much for a game, though, when the audio is the best feature.