I have played quite a bit of our beta copy of Major League Baseball 2K9, so I will give my impressions of what I have seen so far. Just keep in mind, some of the issues I have witnessed will not be in the final retail version, according to the developers of the game.
Some Unanswered Questions
The biggest question has to be the frame rate and the A.I. swinging at anything remotely close to the strike zone. After multiple games, I can definitely tell you there are some issues with the frame rate, but those issues are not consistently popping up. For example, here are some instances where I have seen hiccups in animations one time, and then a few innings later, seen the exact type of play and not seen any hiccups.
I have seen slowdown and loss of frames during certain cut scenes and foul ball situations. Obviously, these instances will not affect the gameplay at all, but there are some that do. For example, I have seen slowdowns on grounders in the infield, pop ups that drop just in front of an outfielder and on occasion after a bunt when the catcher is throwing the ball to first base. Just remember, I am not seeing this stuff all the time, but I am seeing it.
When playing the A.I., it seems it swings at everything in the strike zone, rarely swinging at balls outside the zone. So, it makes it very difficult to get a decent pitch count. I have messed with the sliders, and while improving it some, I am still not satisfied.
I have seen a thread on the forums talking about this issue, and will try a few of the ideas posted there and then report the results.
I have also noticed a few other issues that I feel should be mentioned. On occasion, you will overthrow your intended teammate. This of course happens if you are being aggressive on your throw. However, for example, I will occasionally overthrow my third baseman. Now, if the ball gets passed him and the teammate backing that throw up, the A.I. seems to think the play is over and will not give you a free advance. It does not happen all the time, but I feel it should be mentioned.
In a low scoring game, I would like to see the A.I. bunt a guy over from first -- sometimes the A.I. listens to my request. Still, while sacrifices do occur at times, they do not happen as often as I would like them to.
On the other end of things, I have been able to generate walks for my team. If you are patient, you will see walks. In addition, the hit variety has got to be seen to be believed. Even though I have not actually captured most of the various hits, I have witnessed seeing-eye singles, bloop singles, slow grounders, dribblers, line drives just over the leaping infielders, as well as foul balls off the batter's foot.
The commentary is very solid. There are some repetitive sayings, but it is very well done and appropriate in all situations. But, just like the fans, the commentators could be more excited during certain situations. Speaking of the fans, they get a little more frantic as the game progresses. You will especially see this in the ninth inning of a close game because you will slowly see fans stand up in different parts of the stadium, until finally all the fans are up out of their seats cheering the home team on.
Real-time atmosphere is very nicely done. I cannot tell you how well it has been implemented. You see some of it in the videos, but there are so many other instances of it. The camera angles are also implemented very well, as you can adjust the pitching and batting camera to quite a few different positions. While it is nice to have so many different camera options, it is disappointing that there are no outfield-adjustable cameras.
Some "Little Things"
Also, here are just a few "little things" I have seen. When foul balls are hit into the dugouts, players jump out of the way. This also happens in the bullpens. On pitches in the dirt that are misplayed by the catcher, the batter will wave the runner to advance. However, the batter is not always right. On close balls and strikes calls, you will see the batter give an evil eye to the ump and even shake his head. On close safe/out calls, you will see players become frustrated with the umps and throw their arms up and argue the call -- to no avail. Player jerseys get dirty in the field and when running the bases.
A Few More Issues
Here are also a few more things that are bothering me. There are some clipping issues -- players are going through other players; some home run balls are going through walls after they bounce into the stands; and there is a lack of take-out slides (or at least I have not seen any).
It is also odd seeing players look at one base, but then throwing to another. The best example of this is on a double play ball: The second baseman or shortstop will look home, but will still throw it to first. It just looks odd. *In addition, outfielders crow hop most throws back into the infield, even those that go to the cutoff man; but, they do not occur when there is a putout.
* Edit: Just noticed if you hold the left trigger, while throwing to a base or cut off man, you won't crow hop. (At least, most of the time), unless you are throwing home. Another thing I noticed, you can pump fake a throw to a base, if you hold the right trigger.
Wrapping It Up
All in all, I am enjoying my time with the game even though I have a few gripes with the gameplay. If the developers tweak the game so the A.I. does not swing at everything in the zone and get the frame rate right, I will be satisfied, and I am sure most gamers will be as well.