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Major League Baseball 2K7

MLB

I love baseball. Unfortunately, I’m not really good at playing it, so the only way that I can enjoy baseball is by watching the New York Yankees play on TV or through video games. I won’t say that I know everything about baseball because I’m not some sort of guru or anything, but I do know enough to tell what makes a good game and what makes a bad one. Baseball has been around for over one hundred years and baseball –related video games for almost twenty-five, so it’s hard for me to understand how a developer can make a fundamentally flawed baseball video game at this point. Yet, here is MLB 2K7 for the DS, by all definitions an abysmal baseball experience.

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When you first load up the game and find yourself at the main menu, the first disappointment you’ll be hit with is the lack of a career, franchise, or season modes. Instead, you can play a quick match or through a playoff bracket that you determine. I’m sure the developers would use the excuse that the DS’ memory or cartridge size couldn’t handle a full season mode, but I think that they should have found a way to squeeze it on. Season mode gives people a legitimate, compelling reason to continue playing and without it, you’re going to be hard-pressed to find a reason to come back and play more.

However, playing through an entire season is probably not something you’re going to want to do once you experience the clunky game mechanics. Everything about this game is an unnecessary challenge, including having the patience and stamina to play through an entire nine inning game. The developers actually took the time to attempt to develop a 3D engine to play the game through. The bottom touch screen shows the field through the catcher’s eyes, batter in the box, pitcher on the mound, and infield players in position. The top screen shows a bird’s-eye view of the infield, allowing you to keep an eye on players on base and where the ball is going.

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This all sounds great, right? It is, until the ball is thrown. After waiting an excruciating amount of time between pitches, when the pitcher finally does through the ball, it seems to move at an impossibly slow speed. It doesn’t matter what the pitch is, be it a curve ball, a cutter, a slider or a fastball, it moves towards the mound at a speed that makes it damn near impossible to get a read on the ball. Computer-controlled batters seem to swing before the pitcher has even extended his arm all the way and still seem to hit the ball. For some reason, after selecting a pitch, it can often take five or more seconds for the pitcher to get into position and throw the damn ball. This is a portable game and I expect something that moves a lot faster than this. If I had two hours to sit through a baseball game, I would just watch a game on TV (even a re-run in the off-season would be more entertaining).

Actual pitch selection doesn’t seem to make any impact on where the ball is hit, either. One of the starting pitchers on the Yankees is notorious for his well-executed sinker ball, a pitch designed to force batters to hit ground balls which generally limits the amount of damage they can do when they do get a hit (you can’t hit homerun ground balls). Since that is his staple pitch I often relied on it, yet I didn’t get a whole lot of ground balls or as many as I should have. Jamming players with pitches inside doesn’t seem to make much of a difference either. Of course, it also doesn’t help that while I struggled with figuring out the timing of pitches that the computer had absolutely no difficulty picking up the ball and hitting it.

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Fielding the ball is also a chore too. For some reason, all base runners run with the speed of rabbits on amphetamines. Fielding the ball is made difficult by the fact that the game suddenly changes perspective to where the ball is going to land. You’re zoomed in way too close to the player and you can’t actually track the ball. Also, the sudden shift often caused me to run in the wrong direction because I was disoriented until I got used to it. And to add insult to injury, the players aren’t at all representative of their real-life counterparts except in name and pitch selection. All base runners seem to move at the same speed despite their weight or personal afflictions. And even excluding subtle nuances, they even got the skin color wrong on some players. Sorry, but Johnny Damon isn’t black, guys.

There just really isn’t anything positive to say about this game. Even the rosters are a little out of date. I honestly wanted this to be a good game and I was really disappointed. I’m of the opinion now that I won’t even try out next year’s version of this game simply because this one was so atrocious to suffer through. It just does way too much wrong to keep playing it. MLB 2K7 is not worth your time and this is definitely one game to avoid.

2 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2003.

Gentle persuasion

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