Last year, I nailed MLB 2K9 for the PC as the worst game I reviewed all year. I couldn’t believe how bad the game was. Now, 2K Sports has come back for another year. Was that rebuilding year worthwhile, or has the series completely lost direction?

The first thing I noticed when I booted the game up had to be the visuals. I really like the aesthetic appeal that they’ve imbued into this title. The light play, the detail on the uniforms and the stadiums are all way ahead of last year. I also appreciate the many animations they’ve introduced this year to spruce up fielding. Speaking of fielding, it controls much better this year. I found it an enjoyable aspect of play, rather then a burden.

The ‘new’ pitching and hitting mechanic is marketing BS, in my opinion. It’s just last year’s controls, refined. The big differences are that you select a pitch prior to doing the right-stick movement (eliminating the possibility of accidentally throwing the wrong pitch) and that there are now three swing styles. Unlike in MLB 2K8, the contact swing is an upward push instead of a pull and release of the right stick, which feels much better. The defensive swings, which I originally had pegged as a gimmick, actually come in handy for fighting off borderline pitches. The new batters eye function – which I’d swear EA had in MVP Baseball five years ago – is really handy, and it’s nice to see that good hitters can spot pitches better then average hitters, opening the gap between the good and the great.

As far as modes go, you get the usual franchise and home run derby modes, but what I liked – surprise, surprise – was the My Player mode. Some reviewers say that playing anything but pitcher results in a boring game, but I disagree. I enjoy playing fielders over pitchers. Pitching feels like I’m just playing a normal exhibition game rather then a new and unique mode. When playing a pitcher, I usually pick a reliever instead of a starter.

This game has it’s flaws, though and some are pretty frustrating. One thing I really dislike is that the commentary tends to be way off base. Not only do they claim my team won the game prior when it was shut out, but in My Player I’ll come up in my third at bat and the announcers are talking about my two homerun night even though I might be 0-3 at the time. Some of the graphical glitches include hats that don’t fit heads (leaving unsightly gaps in the models), players quickly floating into certain positions on the field, batters batting without a bat, and players at certain positions being required to be right handed in the field. That last problem should have been fixed a decade ago, but still crops up year after year.

All in all, this isn’t the series savior that 2K Sports may have hoped, but it’s light-years ahead of last season’s. That alone gives baseball gamers hope for the future. If they can iron out some of these nagging issues, they may have a real winner on their hands. Alphasim out.