Wii Sports proved that the Wii had the potential to be a great console for the game formerly known as America’s pastime. Its lack of anything beyond batting and pitching was its limitation, however, and Major League Baseball 2K9 by 2K Sports hopes to provide a more complete experience.
From the moment you start up the game you’ll notice that you’re in the big leagues now. The full MLB roster is represented, and teams’ skill levels are pretty accurate to their real-life counterparts. There is a nice level of depth available as well, allowing you take complete control of your team as you battle for the pennant.
To pitch you point to the spot on the screen where you want to throw the ball. This may seem to give away your strategy when playing against a friend, but at the same time you secretly choose a throw style on the nunchuck. So even though they see the general area you aimed for, they won’t be ready for the curveball or changeup you’ve got up your sleeve.
Batting is more than just swinging away like you’re Ike Turner. There is a 3 by 3 square grid in the strike zone, and using the joystick to select the correct spot where the ball is going to go provides a more powerful hit. If you can actually do this while timing swings with the remote, then expect to be drafted shortly, it is tough to accomplish.
Sadly ,fielding is not as intuitive as the other controls. You’ll spend many frustrating moments attempting to perform one action only to watch another take place. CPU controlled teammates can also be randomly unreliable. Too often a perfect pitch is ruined by an unnecessary fielding blunder made by computer-controlled player.
The game’s graphics are a terrible reminder of the limited power of the Wii, but the visuals clearly aren’t pushing the system in any way. It looks slightly better than a PS2 game, and player animations sometimes seem stiff and robotic. There are times when even the limbless Miis of Wii Sports appear to move more naturally than the athletes of MLB 2K9.
A surprising shortfall is that online play was completely overlooked. You can play against a friend, but it will have to be sitting next to them on the couch. The Wii isn’t the most online-ready system, but this is a rarity for modern day sports games. Online competition greatly adds to the longevity of any game, but fortunately there are at least some unlockable challenges to keep you interested once the season ends.
There aren’t many baseball games available on the Wii, which is disappointing considering how perfect its controls are for this sport in particular. If you crave more than just the pitching and batting of Wii Sports, then Major League Baseball 2K9 is a superior alternative. But it still isn’t the amazing baseball simulator that the Wii should have had by now.