Major League Baseball 2K9
2K Sports' portable baseball game cannot keep up with Sony's superior Show.
Play ball! Another year of Major League Baseball is in full swing. For the summer, we have not one but two PSP games to choose from. Sony's already thrown out the first pitch with its above-average MLB 09: The Show, and now it's 2K Sports' turn with Major League Baseball 2K9. Although it's not the home run champion it should've been, you'll enjoy the different modes and simplified gameplay.
Presentation-wise, 2K9 has everything you'd expect from an MLB experience. You've got your traditional behind-the-pitcher view when you lob balls over the plate and a home plate view when you slam one out of the park. The animation isn't the greatest, as player frames tend to skip, and the crowd resembles cardboard placeholders instead of real people. There are also minor glitches that pop up, particularly with the grass. These same hiccups also affect the game's running commentary, with Gary Thorne and Steve Phillips providing play-by-play from the booth. Overall, though, it's not bad. There's a solid frame rate, and the sound effects make you feel like you're sitting in the middle of Coors Field (or whatever baseball stadium you prefer).
For console versions of Major League Baseball 2K9, Visual Concepts implemented the use of a right analog stick. Obviously, the PSP doesn't have that, but the development team made do with an alternate control scheme. It's a bit easier, but it works just fine. Pitching, for instance, is a breeze. Instead of ridiculously waggling a stick around to execute pitches, you select your throw of choice, press the X button in conjunction with a circle icon and let 'er rip. Base running and fielding are equally user friendly, as you align your player with the ball's location and press the coordinating face button on your PSP to throw it to the bases. As for batting, you just hit the button when the ball crosses the plate. That said, it might be too simple for its own good. We slammed home runs out of the park before the second inning.
MLB 2K9 offers a wide assortment of modes to choose from. Exclusive to the PSP version is The Farm, where you play as your favorite minor league team. Those who prefer the Big Leagues may not get into it, but it's a refreshing change of pace from the usual sports modes.
In addition, other standard modes return, including Franchise, Season and GM Career. There's also Home Run Derby, if you feel like swinging for the fences without putting a game on the line. Finally, Versus lets you challenge a friend via AdHoc. It's not as big as the Infrastructure-supported baseball action in Sony's MLB 09: The Show, but it provides a few hours of fun.
The only real downside to these features is the amount of time it takes getting them set up. Major League Baseball 2K9 has excessive load times that range between 30 seconds to a minute and a half. Patient baseball fans may not mind, but those in a hurry to win the ol' ball game may grow frustrated.
In the end, Major League Baseball 2K9's shortcomings keep it from surpassing its handheld competitor, MLB 09: The Show. However, the variety of modes and mostly fun gameplay make it worth hitting the mound.
What's Hot: User-friendly pitching and base-running controls, a great selection of modes including the exclusive Farm mode, not a hint of steroid abuse.
What's Not: Too many glitches, load times can be very long, lack of a second analog stick makes batting painfully easy, flawed play-by-play commentary.