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Major League Baseball 2K9 Preview (Xbox 360)

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.

Some Kudos

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.


Major League Baseball 2K9 Videos
Member Comments
# 1 baseball88 @ 02/16/09 09:59 AM
Steve

Could you post a video for the Baltimore Orioles at Cleveland Indians


I would like to see what the Indians batting helmet looks like for home.

Thanks
 
# 2 nemesis04 @ 02/16/09 10:01 AM
Nice preview Steve, basically all the concerns you mentioned can been seen in the samples you gave us. If the cpu AI swinging was addressed but not the frame rate, do you think the title would still have legs?
 
# 3 brendanrfoley @ 02/16/09 10:07 AM
Steve, thank you for your hard work. You keep a lot of people here very happy (and unproductive)!

  • I won't worry about the framerate yet; the code is unoptimized. The fact the same play can hitch sometimes and not others tell me there is the potential for the entire game to run smoothly at all times

  • CPU swinging at everything does concern me

  • Drawing walks? Yes!

  • The hit variety you describe sounds dreamy

  • The "little" things and real-time world have me very excited


All in all, it sounds like the game is still rough around the edges. But it sounds (from your hands-on) that if the game played smoothly and the CPU swung less, we'd have a solid baseball game on our hands.

That sounds great!
 
# 4 larma @ 02/16/09 10:09 AM
Finally some info about the PS3 version. Sounds good compared to what we got last year. Nice preview, thanks.
 
# 5 Trevytrev11 @ 02/16/09 10:16 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve_OS
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.
Pretty much how I feel from what I have seen and read. If they can fix this (or make it fixable), it sounds like everything is stuff I can live with if it is not fixed.
 
# 6 nemesis04 @ 02/16/09 10:17 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by larma
Finally some info about the PS3 version. Sounds good compared to what we got last year. Nice preview, thanks.
I know it says ps3 but I thought he was playing the 360 version?
 
# 7 brendanrfoley @ 02/16/09 10:22 AM
More in-depth thoughts on my end...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve
I can definitely tell you there are some issues with the framerate, 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.
The lack of consistency is a good thing. There are times the game runs smoothly, and the code likely just needs optimization.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve
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.
This is my biggest concern, and many people here. This could actually be a "deal breaker" for me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve
On the other end of things, I have been able to generate walks for my team.
Wonderful news, though it leads to more questions... why would the developers create a sim experience on the hitting end, but not the pitching. The CPU swinging at everything must be early code. I hope.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve
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.
More great news.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve
The commentary is very solid. There are some repetitive sayings, but it is very well done and appropriate in all situations.
Having the commentary this finely tuned more than a month before release is another great sign.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve
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.
Awesome.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve
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.
More awesome.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve
When foul balls are hit into the dugouts, players jump out of the way. This also happens in the bullpens.
I'm tired of saying awesome, but that's awesome.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve
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.
Fingers crossed!
 
# 8 ChaseB @ 02/16/09 10:25 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by nemesis04
I know it says ps3 but I thought he was playing the 360 version?
Yes, he's playing 360 version, it's just our database sometimes will put any platform the game comes out for next to the title.
 
# 9 jeffy777 @ 02/16/09 10:32 AM
thank you Steve, great read. Hopefully everything gets worked out in the final game as it sounds like there's certainly a lot of potential.
 
# 10 bigfnjoe96 @ 02/16/09 10:32 AM
Thanks for the honesty Steve & for the tons of screens & videos you have provided. It's great to hear you enjoying the game outside of the issues you have seen. Are you allowed to share with us @ what % was the Beta Build 2K sent to you?
 
# 11 larma @ 02/16/09 10:33 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by nemesis04
I know it says ps3 but I thought he was playing the 360 version?
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChaseB
Yes, he's playing 360 version, it's just our database sometimes will put any platform the game comes out for next to the title.
Damn.
 
# 12 The Living Legend @ 02/16/09 10:34 AM
Great Job Steve, you pretty much nailed the worries i have as well.

I hope the AI swining at everything in the strike can be tweaked and some of the animations are cleaned up.
 
# 13 brendanrfoley @ 02/16/09 10:50 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by miamimarlins1
Steve thank you for the review, you just saved me $60, unless they can fix the CPU swinging at everything. I'm really pissed because it really looked pretty outside of that issue, but that is a deal breaker for me.
It isn't a review. It is a hands-on preview of an unfinished copy of the game.
 
# 14 jeffy777 @ 02/16/09 10:55 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by brendanrfoley
It isn't a review. It is a hands-on preview of an unfinished copy of the game.
Exactly, and Steve said that the devs told him the problems he mentioned wouldn't be in the full game, so there's no need to write this game off as a failure already. There's still reason to hope. This was only a beta build and not the final game.
 
# 15 porkchop @ 02/16/09 10:56 AM
thanks for your hard work, Steve. I'm extremely concerned about the CPU swinging at everything in or near the zone without sliders to compensate. Hopefully this gets addressed in the final retail build, but I'm not overly optimistic. It doesn't really seem like they were aiming too hard for a 100% sim-type atmosphere with this release. Oh well.
 
# 16 jeffy777 @ 02/16/09 11:13 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by miamimarlins1
Yeah and last year 2k told us the game ran at 60fps. If you believe that everything will be fixed then purchase the game. I'm just stating that I will pass unless I hear differently from the devs or from others that have reviewed the game.
Well, for one thing, last year we had a completely different developer too......So I don't even compare this year to what the developers promised/did last year.

But yes, I agree it would be nice to know whether or not this will be fixed for sure.

Stever said: "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."

It would definitely be great to know what specific issues they said wouldn't be in the final game...
 
# 17 jeffy777 @ 02/16/09 11:21 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by mike360
Do you believe that all developers never lie ?
Did I say that? Not at all. I'm not that naive, lol. I'm just saying that VC has a much better track record about getting things right than Kush did, and I can't see VC making a huge blunder like Kush did last year with empty promises, but that certianly doesn't mean that VC is infallible.
 
# 18 brendanrfoley @ 02/16/09 11:24 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffy777
It would definitely be great to know what specific issues they said wouldn't be in the final game...
I thought this about five minutes ago.

Steve, are you allowed to give us clarification on this?
 
# 19 Openroad_7 @ 02/16/09 11:25 AM
I haven't seen anyone bring up the outfielder throwing, seems they get rid of the ball to quick, no momentum that requires them to stop. As soon as they catch the ball, they are throwing it into the infield, looks like runners can be forced out at 2nd base on singles to shallow leftfield.
 
# 20 buzzguy @ 02/16/09 11:31 AM
Great preview, Steve! I'm a casual baseball game fan, so a realisitc pitch count doesn't matter so much to me. Not saying it could never be fixed, but if it isn't, I can deal with it!
The points about the atmosphere, and the other little things, have me excited for release! I'm most happy in my sports gaming when I can lose myself in the game, and VC seems to be shooting for this.
Very nice!
 

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