A few improvements away from greatness.
Not everything about this title is doom and gloom. Actually the majority of its features are pretty good. The gameplay is very realistic, especially the fielding. Players are able to drop balls, get errors. and even run into each other if a fielder doesn't call for the ball. If an infielder stands around waiting for the ball to roll to him after a hit, the subsequent throw will be late and the runner will be safe. Basically, the game keeps these guys human.
I am also a fan of this game's pitching control. At first glance it seemed complicated, but after a brief pitching tutorial, I was good to go. Every pitcher has an arsenal of pitches to his disposal. 2K keeps each player's strengths and weaknesses in mind when assigning him pitches. For example, while using Derek Lowe of the Atlanta Braves his primary pitch is the sinker. A pitch he uses with great success in reality. Some players may have multiple pitches available but still throw some pitches better than others. For this reason, every pitch is thrown to a target which requires the player to aim for a small green area. The more comfortable that pitcher is with that pitch, the bigger his green target. If a pitcher is terrible at a certain pitch (say he has a curveball that is hit or miss) the target is smaller.
Another great feature in this game is the availability of scouting reports during franchise mode. Each team has a certain amount of money that can be used to scout other teams. These scouting reports are very detailed and can tell you anything from how well the players hit/pitch to how fast of base runners they are. At first, the scouting reports seem like a lot. I mean who is going to remember these things about every player in the MLB right? Wrong. The catcher is going to call for the ball in the best places to strike a guy out. Also, a halo surrounds the best pitch for each situation. All you have to do is select that pitch and hit the target. After the team purchases a scouting report on a batter on a certain team the outfield and infield then automatically shift to negate that player's strengths.
2K definitely spared plenty expense with the graphics for this game. From the moment you start a game it is obvious. As the game shows fans filling the stands it's kind of fun to laugh at the blurry faces of little boys excited to see a game with dad. They try to make up for this by showing perfectly cut grass in the stadium, but from this area, it just falls kind of flat.
Another gray area for this game is the computer AI. Though overall the game play is good some of the plays the computer makes just aren't logical baseball plays. One thing that annoys me to no end is to see players sliding into first base. It is more logical for that player to run past first base in an effort to avoid the force out. Also, the smart throw option is supposed the throw the ball to the best position possible, but often it does not. For example, the other day I was pitching had one away and one on base. At this point I was looking for the double play to end the inning. The ball rolls to the SS and 2B moves to cover the bag. In my head, I'm thinking "this will be a very easy and routine 6-4-3." Instead, I use smart throw and the ball gets lobbed overhead to 1B where I just BARELY got the hitter out. Next play goes for a three run homer and I lose.
You would think in our technological age that almost every game would have SOME sort of online features. Not only is multiplayer an afterthought for this title, but on top of that you have to deal with rosters from before the preseason. It wouldn't be so bad if you could occasionally download the correct rosters. Instead I had to create rookie sensation Jason Heyward. After that I tried to trade to get first baseman Derrick Lee. Of course this didn't work because of his high overall rating. After fumbling through a bunch of menus I was finally able to force the computer to accept my trade. Unfortunately, my entire payroll was eaten up afterwards. It would have been much easier if the rosters were constantly being updated.
In addition, it would be nice to have the option of playing someone online. Unfortunately, there is no multiplayer function so, unless you have a buddy over, there will be no head-to-head play.
This isn't a bad game, it just has somethings to improve upon. Apparently no one listened to the list of suggestions from last year's title. A few fine-tuned items and this franchise could be a classic in no time.