Platform: Xbox 360
Developer – Kush Games
Publisher – 2K Sports
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
To coincide with the start of baseball’s spring training, 2K’s Major League Baseball makes a return to the Xbox 360 with Major League Baseball® 2K7. After last years disappointing version of the franchise, MLB® 2K7 makes a solid comeback and breathes new life into the franchise.
The visuals in MLB® 2K7 are very good and are probably the best we have seen for a console Baseball game thus far. It’s truly amazing to see how far baseball games have come in the past ten years. The following visuals really stood out for me:
- The player models look very similar to their real-life counterpart;
- The big league stadiums have been designed to perfection;
- The lighting is stunning and impacts gameplay; and
- The details such as the blades of grass and uniforms moving in the
Overall, MLB® 2K7 is a remarkably nice looking game and is the best I have seen in a baseball game thus far. "Signature Style", which mimics what a player does in real life, is a new feature 2K added this year. So not only do players look like their real life counterparts, they also behave the same way as well. If you are a fan of the game some of these signature animations add a nice a touch and are quite well done. From Ryan Howard’s pre-swing swagger where he points the bat towards the outfield to Nomar Garciapara adjusting his batting gloves, all the animations are very effective and give you the feeling you are in or at an MLB game. My only concern is how the players look during animations that occur when you are pitching against batters. For some reason, many of the batters look like they are wearing leg armour underneath their uniforms and too many of the batters have these bulky legs. Overall, it’s not a major concern but more of an annoyance. On another positive note there are also a ton of new animations included this year from fielding groundballs and catching flyballs. Shortstops will sometimes hurry the throw or they will simply lob the ball to first base for the out. Bottomline, I like how I am not seeing the same throwing mechanics over and over again.
As far as the stadiums are concerned, once again 2K7 delivers. All of the stadiums are done to perfection. In fact if anything it makes you want to see more of the stadium and surrounding areas. If there is anything that can change in this area is that some of the inside the stadium shots seem a little too generic at times. Again, it is not a deal breaker, just something that you may notice after a full season with your favorite team.
The lighting in MLB® 2K7 is also worth mentioning. For instance, in a game against the Washington Nationals, during the first part of the game I could not see the ball very well each time I was up to bat. Much of it had to do with the time of day and the delivery of the pitcher. However, a couple of innings later when the sun had set and the stadium lights lit up the field, I found myself able to see the ball somewhat easier and I was making much more contact with the pitches. Again it’s these little details which make this year's version of franchise much better than last years.
Despite all the superb graphics, there were some issues. Along with the aforementioned generic look of some of the inside details of stadiums I noticed that there were some framerate slow-down during my games. Often the game can slow down a bit when running the bases or shagging down fly balls. Again, it is not a major concern but merely something I noticed during the many games played in a season. Regardless though the game runs pretty smooth and the visuals are well done.
As far as the sound is concerned, MLB® 2K7 is phenomenal. The game's sound is an excellent complement to the fantastic graphics. From the soundtrack to Jon Miller and Joe Morgan's commentating, 2K7 does a wonderful job at creating an authentic baseball atmosphere. The soundtrack is a marked upgrade over last year's version and it is nice to see some big name artists such as 311 and Nirvana on the set list. So many developers rely on some no-names to fill up their track list but not this game. MLB® 2K7 is arguable my most favourite soundtrack to date.
As indicated above Jon Miller and Joe Morgan do a fabulous job on the commentary. It almost gives me goose bumps to listen to these two and it gets me pumped up for some real Sunday Night ESPN baseball. Many new comments that have been added are quite noticeable while some are back from last year’s version. These two commentators sound just like they do in the booth together while actually doing a game for ESPN. Sure, some of the comments are repetitive but name me a sports game that doesn't have this problem. It was only after the 20th game or so that I got a little tired of some of the player descriptions that were used for my franchise team.
Similarly to graphics, the sound is an upgrade with this year’s version of the franchise. The crowd chatter is nice and the overall sounds of the game are bang-on. It truly feels like a baseball game and to that end the sound in MLB® 2K7 is effective.
If you haven’t played MLB® 2K7 and were burned with last years version, you are probably asking yourself if the bugs and quirks been addressed. Simply put, yes they are gone. As far as the gameplay is concerned the following stood out for me when playing this latest version of 2K Sports latest baseball title:
- Improved fielding;
- Lots of camera angles;
- Improved pre-game presentations:
- Tons of options and stats; and
- Pitching and Batting mechanics are stellar.
This year the fielding is much improved and the camera angles are much more realistic. There are many new angles on the replays and it should be enough to satisfy any replay hound. Unlike last year, the fielding is smooth too. I do admit though it takes some time to figure out how to do the perfect a dive or wall climb but with some practice, and maybe a bit of luck, you will do it. My only concern with the fielding is the computer AI’s ability to rob you of far too many home runs for my liking. For instance, I actually had one game where Mike Cameron made 4 home run robbing wall climbs and three flat out dives for outs. This seemed a little excessive and is something you will likely never see in a real MLB game.
The improved presentations are also worth noting at this point. For instance, when you start up the game, no longer do you have to look at a boring loading screen. MLB® 2K7 now takes you directly to the stadium where you look at all sorts of animations from people at the concessions to the stadiums logo. Again a nice touch and something I would like to see more of in other sports games.
Another aspect of the presentation is some of the real life MLB details and how MLB® 2K7 stays true to the game. For instance, when the pitcher gets a hit and ends up on base we now see him wear a warm-up jacket just like what his real life counterpart would do if on base in a real game. In MLB® 2K7 you see bat boys in the outfield in foul territory, umpires in their proper locations and your bull pen warming up during the latter stages of a game. It’s all the little details of this type of presentation that add up to deliver an outstanding and realistic gameplay experience.
While much of the gameplay in MLB® 2K7 is solid, there are some concerns to note. First, the excessive replays can become an annoyance but thankfully there is an option to turn this feature off. I could only watch Mike Cameron’s wall climb so many times. Secondly, some of fielding camera angles when the ball is in play can cost you runs and/or errors. You can adjust the sliders to make your fielders much faster, however the cameras remain somewhat problematic. Third, some of the controls seem out of place and took me some time to adjust. To this day I still have a tough time using the right analog stick as the swing. I find myself doing power swings more often then regular swings. Letting go of the stick for a base hit screws up my timing and does not feel right. I suspect many will prefer the classic controls as this is an option in MLB® 2K7.
At this point I should mention the different game types in MLB® 2K7. The game features your typical ‘Play Now’ mode as well as Season, Franchise and GM Modes. Similarly to other sports tittles there are also some mini-games available. Overall, no surprises here and your typical baseball fan will most likely spend the majority of his or her time in the Season or GM mode.
The multiplayer game, as with other 2K sports tittles, is pretty much a smooth and lag free experience online. For some this will be the biggest attraction and brings to the game a tremendous amount of lasting appeal. On the downside, games have a tendency to last quite some time. For example, it took me about 45 minutes to an hour for one game. Needless to say, online gameplay is enjoyable and if you are into leagues and tournaments then MLB® 2K7 is a buyer.
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