Aside from playing nine innings against the AI, MLB 2K7 also allows you to play against a live opponent whether face to face or over Xbox Live. 2 player mode is very well done with easy to choose from menus and screen controls that allow you to make pitching and hitting decisions without giving it away to a live opponent. In addition to standard (exhibition) games, you can play through a full 162 game season based on the 2007 schedule for the team of your choice. The next step up the ladder from this of course is franchise mode, where you guide a team not just through a single season, but throughout multiple seasons building on successes or rebuilding after failures. While I haven’t completed a season yet, I found the season mode to be a lot of fun as the stats for each player on my roster effected their future performance, streaking both hot and cold depending on how I did in each at bat and game. Franchise mode is truly for the person who wants to control the destiny of their favorite team, allowing you to act as GM, coach, and player all at the same time.
Of the other additional modes, Situation and Home Run Derby show the most promise as quick and easy ways to have some fun with friends playing. Home Run Derby is exactly what you would expect; whoever bashes the most balls over the fence wins. Situation is an interesting way to work on skills, as it allows you to use different players in specific situations, such as high pressure moments like the ones we all imagined as children. Whether it’s the bases loaded and 2 outs with the big home run hitter at the plate and you’re trying to drive in that winning run, or just the middle of a pitchers duel, you can jump into a game at any point, with the situation as you want it to be.
The thing that really gets me in this game is the detail, whether it’s the Tigers on top of the scoreboard in Comerica Park, the plaques in Momument Park beyond the outfield wall in the House that Ruth Built, or the seats on top of the “Green Monster” in Fenway, the designers didn’t miss a thing. And between the realistic body modeling, the signature style of the superstars, and the head scans of each of the players, you almost feel like you’re controlling the players themselves.
Of course, no game is perfect. This game is deeply in need of a spring training and batting practice mode, which would allow players to practice pitching without a hitter, work on fielding in repetitive situations, and get the timing down while trying to turn on a fastball. Also, while the animations are truly some of the most realistic I’ve ever seen in a game, there sometimes is a bit of jerkiness or a disjointed feel as the game couples the animations. For example, the shortstop looks great diving to his left to snag a hard grounder deep in the hole, but between gloving the ball and wheeling to throw it, there’s an awkward hitch in the player motion. This ‘hitch’ is prevalent throughout the game when any to player animation sequences are combined. While it’s a small quibble, against the rest of the beautifully done game, it stands out like a sore thumb after a while.
Finally, some of the more special plays in baseball (such as robbing a hitter of a home run) happen a bit too often in the game. In the first 10 games, I had 5 players robbed of home runs, including one where the fielder was several feet above the right field wall in Comerica Park. This is something that has never happened once in real life, let alone 5 times.
In conclusion, it’s hard to say that any of the issues I just mentioned are serious enough to warrant more than a passing mention, although players who spend a lot of time with the game may become frustrated with them. In short, this game is a winner, much like the Detroit Tigers (I couldn’t go a whole review without mentioning my team.) I recommend this game to any baseball fan or any sports junkie looking for a way to pass a couple hours during a rain delay.
Astounding graphics, terrific animation, and upgraded fielding controls bring the best of 2006 and make it better for 2007. Definitely the baseball game of choice for anyone who smells hot dogs any time he hears “Centerfield” by John Fogerty. A few small issues but nothing that stops it from being the premier baseball game of 2007.
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