Almost every kid has the dream of becoming a ball player. Whether it’s sinking the game-winning 3 pointer at the buzzer, making an unbelievable touchdown catch to win it, or coming up to the plate with a runner on second and two outs in a tie game in the bottom of the ninth, every kid who has the dream wants to be the star. Most sports games today allow you to live the dream by including a game mode that literally puts you in the game. EA’s NHL game and Sony’s MLB: The Show series have been the ones to do this right. You can make yourself and go from minor league scrub to MLB or NHL All-Star.
2K Sports have jumped on this bandwagon with their My Player mode in the NBA and MLB 2K series. Last year’s implementation in MLB 2K10 wasn’t the greatest but that is to be expected with the first try. Expectations weren’t exactly high for this year’s offering but most were pretty excited to see the changes and improvements that were made. Fans of the game know it would be far from where MLB: The Show’s Road to the Show mode currently is but having something similar is enough to get 2K fans on the Xbox 360, who can’t play The Show due to it being a Sony first-party exclusive, pretty hyped about 2K’s offering.
While My Player is a fun mode and a good change of pace from the standard franchise mode, it just lacks something that makes Road to the Show so special and a lot more fun. The presentation is there with a nice interface, despite having brown menu boxes and the announcing is top-notch with commentary provided by Gary Thorne, Steve Phillips and John Kruk. The action is the problem. Take being a first baseman for example. While playing defense, you’ll have grounders, pop ups and line drives hit to you. That’s it. As long as you can move the analog stick left or right, you’re good. The hardest thing you’ll have to do is decide whether to run to the bag yourself or toss it to the pitcher who is running to cover first base in time.
Most positions are the same. Run, catch, throw in very scripted sequences. Pitching is the only position you’ll have a challenge with and it’s also the most fun. The RPG elements to building up your stats is fun to do as you decide if your player will be a good hitter and base stealer like Jose Reyes or a power man who can hit for average, like Albert Pujols. Another thing that takes away from the game is that you don’t get drafted. If you’re a Red Sox fan, you can play for the Red Sox. Sure you can choose a random team but college and high school players getting ready for the major leagues don’t pull a team name from a fish bowl. They get drafted by a team who has a need for a player like them.
All in all, MLB 2K11’s My Player mode is fun to play but an outdated graphics engine that is really showing its age and weak, repetitive gameplay when it comes to fielding really hold it back from competing with MLB: The Show’s Road to the Show. Turning up the difficulty will provide more of a challenge, just don’t expect it to be easy to earn points for your attributes that help your player in all aspects. You could always just try to win a million dollars by being the first to pitch a perfect game. At least that would make you feel less guilty about shelling out $60 for an average baseball game.