Just in time for Opening Day, here's my head-to-head review of the two major baseball games on the console market this year, MLB 11: The Show and Major League Baseball 2k11.
Graphics: Ballpark-wise, I think 2K11 stands up very well to The Show, but overall I have to give the visual nod to MLB 11. Its player faces and body types are much more accurate-looking, the animations are smoother, and The Show has none of the occasional framerate hiccups you'll find in 2K11. I like how both games offer progressive lighting effects -- i.e., the shadows in the park change as the game goes on -- though I think MLB 11 pulls this off a bit better than 2K11. One positive about 2K11 is that its in-game colors are much more vibrant, while The Show generally features more muted visuals, but that doesn't make up for MLB 11's overall advantages. The Show wins the graphical category.
Presentation: In-game, 2K11 offers a slightly superior presentation with bells & whistles like the integration of Inside Edge scouting reports and a neat win probability graph in the pause menu. The Show is more traditional, trying to mimic an actual TV broadcast, so its presentation is solid but largely unspectacular, aside from a decent array of situational player cutscenes. On the front end, 2K Sports games typically have a counterintuitive menu system and MLB 2K11 is no different, using the same setup we've seen from the company's sports games for the past few years. MLB 11's frontend is much better, with simpler navigation and a cool dynamic ballpark feature that displays your favorite team's park in the background (or shuffles through all parks if you don't pick a favorite). So who wins on balance depends on whether you enjoy a flashy in-game presentation or not, and for the record I like 2K11 here.
Sound: I have to give 2K11 a big edge here. The in-game commentary by Gary Thorne, Steve Phillips, and John Kruk is impressive as always, replicating the chatter of a real baseball broadcast as well as any game I've ever played. All sports games will have some repetition in their commentary from time to time, but 2K11 mostly does a great job of having the 3 guys in the booth sound like they're having a real conversation about the game. The Show's crew of Matt Vasgersian, Dave Campbell, & Eric Karros, on the other hand, lacks any such enthusiasm or chemistry: sure, they get the job done, but you would never confuse their commentary with that of an actual game. Crowd-wise, The Show is a little better -- the fans have more awareness about the on-field action -- and in the menus, the music is typical sports game fare (though credit goes to both games for including older artists like the Edgar Winter group and Joan Jett). All in all, MLB 2K11 has a leg up in the sound department.
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