Major League Baseball 2K6 is a deep and feature-rich baseball simulation, but its portrayal of the sport is apathetic.
- Exquisite hitting and pitching interfaces
- Deep franchise mode
- Comprehensive stats tracking
- Inside Edge integrates stats into gameplay
- Online tourneys and leagues.
- Not enough replays and cutaways
- Same plays happen all the time
- Generic broadcast views compared to 2K5
- No cutaways or broadcast transitions online
- Miller and Morgan left their excitement at home.
While Major League Baseball 2K6 is a deep and feature-rich baseball simulation, it is also very bland in execution. Dyed-in-the-wool simmers will appreciate the game's stats-focused gameplay, as well as its comprehensive online mode, but anyone who's accustomed to the wealth of play animations and broadcast-style nuances found in other games will find this one a snoozer by comparison.
There's certainly nothing wrong with the variety of modes and options. Team selection includes all 30 current MLB rosters and stadiums, along with about a dozen classic and superstar teams. The list of play modes includes single game, season, franchise, GM career, home run derby, playoffs, situation, and managerial showdown choices, as well as a basic World Baseball Classic tournament mode. Due to licensing issues, the WBC mode doesn't feature any non-MLB players or stadiums, although all of the uniforms and team logos are accurate. Multiple difficulty settings, control configurations, and adjustment sliders let you tweak the game to your liking.
2K6 also has a feature-packed online mode. All of the standard features have been implemented, including roster downloads, single-game play, friends lists, and message boards. Additionally, users can set up and manage their own tournaments and leagues. As many as 16 people can participate in tournaments, while leagues allow for as many as 30 participants. The server handles scheduling and automatically keeps track of standings and a full range of statistics. One feature that 2K6 offers that no other console baseball game does is the ability to trade players in league play. As Paris Hilton would say, that's hot.
Not so hot is that games played in the online mode are missing all of the incidental cutaways and broadcast transitions found in offline games. There aren't any cutscenes whatsoever during online games, so you won't see player intros, home run celebrations, or transitional camera shots. After a batter is retired, the next one simply appears. Some people may prefer this sort of streamlined online experience, but the effect of seeing new players appear and having the sides switch immediately without any kind of cue is actually rather jarring. If the announcers lag behind on a call, it's not unusual for someone playing online to sit there not realizing that it's now their turn to hit or pitch. A better compromise would have been to give players the option to enable cutscenes, which they could skip by tapping a button. In any event, apart from the lack of transitions, games played online do seem to flow smoothly, even when the connection quality isn't stellar.
As it is, in its offline modes, the game doesn't exactly impress with cutscenes or broadcast-style transitions. In fact, compared to other console baseball games, the presentation here is absolutely conservative. That's ultimately the biggest problem with Major League Baseball 2K6. All of the technical stuff is fine. The graphics are crisp, the player and stadium models are mostly accurate, the scoreboards update, the physics seem believable, and the animation is smooth. There's just no personality to any of it. On the field, you'll see the same canned putout and double play animations every time. Off the field, there are automatic instant replays and highlights, but they're infrequent and awkwardly brief. Other incidentals, like batter walk-ups and post-strikeout reactions, are also the exception rather than the norm. It makes sense that 2K Games would have to sacrifice some broadcast authenticity when EA Sports locked up the exclusive rights to the ESPN license, but that still doesn't sufficiently explain why MLB 2K6 feels so lifeless compared to MLB 2K5.
It's also worth mentioning that graphics in the PS2 version of the game aren't quite as detailed or steady as those in the Xbox game. Players in the PS2 game have a lower polygon count and don't blink or make facial gestures like the players in the Xbox version do. Looking at the crowd, the spectators in the PS2 game are a mixture of animated polygon models and nonmoving cardboard cutouts. In the Xbox game, every spectator is a 3D model. Also, in close-up views, the visible outlines surrounding individual spectators in the PS2 game can prove distracting. Meanwhile, the constant disc accessing sometimes has a negative effect on the PS2 game's frame rate, causing the action to skip at times. Individually, all of the flaws are minor. Taken as a whole, though, they make the PS2 version of MLB 2K6 look a bit rough around the edges compared to the games that EA Sports and Sony put out earlier this year.
The audio portion of the presentation fares a little better, although the booth crew could definitely use a few cups of coffee to perk them up. ESPN's Jon Miller and Joe Morgan, arguably the best commentator team in baseball today, have the in-game play calling duties. They keep pace with the action fairly well and have a lot to say, but their calls don't exude much in the way of emotion. Otherwise, the rest of the atmospheric audio is suitably peppy. The volume of the crowd turns louder and stadium speaker cues become more frequent in exciting situations. Also, just in general, there's a satisfying range of sound effects, general stadium announcements, and player-specific crowd catcalls.
It's a shame that the presentation is so lackluster, because the gameplay is actually quite compelling. Aspiring GMs will adore the franchise and GM career modes, which feature actual managers and coaches, two levels of minor leagues, trades, drafts, and realistic player progressions. The franchise modes in MLB 2K6 don't let you set concession prices or sell advertising, but they do implement player morale and fatigue as day-to-day variables, which you can subsequently manage by shuffling lineups and adjusting how much time off your players get. Stats are automatically tracked in more than 100 individual categories and sub-categories. On the field, the CPU plays a smart game and is relatively aggressive on the bases. Nitpickers will notice that hits are somewhat easy to get on the default pro difficulty setting, but that's easily fixed by upticking to a higher setting or adjusting any of the 40-plus tuning sliders.
- Player Reviews: 32
- Game Universe:
- MLB Slugfest 20-03 (PS2, XBOX, GC),
- MLB 2004 (PS2, PS),
- MLB Slugfest 20-04 (PS2, XBOX, GC, GBA),
- Major League Baseball 2K5 (XBOX, PS2, XBOX, PS2),
- Major League Baseball 2K6 (X360, XBOX, GC, PS2, PSP),
- Major League Baseball 2K7 (X360, PSP, XBOX, PS3, PS2, DS, GBA),
- MLB (PSP),
- MLB 2006 (PS2, PS),
- MLB 2003 (PS),
- MLB 2002 (PS)
- Offline Modes:
- Online Modes:
- Number of Players:
- Number of Online Players:
2 Players Online