Baseball games have come a long way since the days of Ken Griffey Jr.’s Slugfest on the Nintendo 64. Formerly an arcade-like experience, the genre has gone for simulation and realism the past several years. Regardless of the style, baseball games tend to attract the baseball fan more than just the casual gamer, and this year, there are two noteworthy titles for fans of the sport to take into consideration. The SCEA-published MLB 11: The Show is a Sony console exclusive, appearing only on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, and PSP. Meanwhile, MLB 2K11 from 2K Sports is available for every console on the market. Let’s take a look at these two baseball games to see which one offers the better ball game.
MLB 11: The Show
Easily one of the most methodical baseball games to come around in years, MLB 11: The Show requires tons of practice and patience. If you want to get good at playing, you’re going to have to put some time into mastering every facet of the game. Pitching, batting, and fielding are all very different from one another, and because the arcade design of older baseball games is completely absent here, you’re really required to learn every aspect of MLB 11: The Show and perfect your abilities as much as possible. Getting through the learning curve in MLB 11: The Show is challenging, engaging, and rewarding. Most importantly, however, playing MLB 11: The Show is just plain fun.
The biggest addition to this year’s installment of The Show is the new analog control scheme. Everything from batting to pitching to fielding is handled using the analog stick on your PlayStation 3 controller. Though pitching is a bit of a hassle at times, batting and fielding using the new control scheme feels incredible. There’s a level of precision that’s hard to top with face buttons, and it feels natural once you get the hang of it. Thankfully, SCEA San Diego allows you to tweak the controls to your liking, so if you want to leave pitching mapped to the face buttons, or if you’d prefer performing all of your in-game actions using the face buttons (you won’t), you can set the preferences as you see fit.
Overall, MLB 11: The Show offers up one of the best baseball game experiences around, if not the best. It’s main flaw—aside from the finicky analog pitch controls—would have to be that it’s a lot like last year’s game. But given how good that entry in the series was, is that really a flaw?
MLB 2K11 acts as The Show’s main competitor, and it features plenty of modes, beautiful visuals, fun online play, and a roster that’s up-to-date with all of the big names in baseball. Arguably, the game can be considered the best in the series to date because it features everything past MLB 2K titles have and introduces several fixes to past problems. And because MLB 2K11 is a multiplatform title available on every current-gen console, it’s certainly a more commercially accessible baseball sim than The Show.
Overall, MLB 2K 11offers up a robust and entertaining package that really fixes some of the main issues that plagued its predecessor. That being said, the fixes made to the game still don’t differentiate it enough to warrant a purchase from baseball fans. The usual round of modes is present here, the roster has been appropriately updated, and the gameplay itself is enjoyable, but the game just feels nearly identical to its predecessor. Additionally, while the controls are solid for the most part, pitching is an abysmal mess that’s sure to frustrate even the most dedicated video game pitchers.
MLB 11: The Show is a great baseball outing for fans of the sport and the genre. The game’s modes are all enjoyable, and playing with others locally or online is a blast. The new analog controls for batting and fielding are a plus, and once you try them out for yourself, you won’t want to go back to the old control scheme. Pitching can be tedious in analog mode, but luckily you can switch each aspect of the game to the control scheme of your choice. MLB 2K11 provides a fun round of baseball with all of the modes you could hope for, and for gamers who don’t have access to a PlayStation 3, it’s certainly a good choice. Just don’t expect major improvements over last year’s game save for a few minor fixes.
Both The Show and MLB 2K 11 offer satisfying baseball for gamers. Ultimately, though, SCEA’s The Show is a far more robust, compelling, enjoyable, and rewarding experience. Multiplatform gamers, if you have to choose, stick with The Show.