Annual sports games have a tendency to get stale; a common side-effect of releasing a game series every year with minimal changes. The folks at 2K Sports are aware of this dilemma and they have every intention of breaking the cycle this year with MLB 2K11.
First up to the plate is the all new Dynamic Player Rating System. Designed to add a deeper level of realism to the American pastime’s digital counterpart, the DPRS tracks player performance over the course of the MLB season, develops player ratings, and applies those rating to the game giving the player a constantly shifting, realistic MLB experience. If you’re worried about C.C Sabathia having an off night and ruining your game the next day, don’t be. The game tracks change over a four week period and looks for behavior that is consistently better or worse than the players stats. If a batter has been in a slump for a while, the game will reflect this; the same goes for pitchers.
In the case of batting, the change will be most noticeable in the player’s ball contact and power.If a known home run hitter has been falling short of the fence for the last few weeks, his power rating will take a dip leaving you stuck on base more often. Likewise, weeks of increased foul balls and strike-outs could drop the contact rating and leave your batter standing at the plate.
If a pitcher has been showing his age or allowing more than his fair share of walks and hits, his control and movement speed will take a hit in the game. That perfect slider you’ve spent weeks on could slowly become a brick.
Consistently improved performance will reflect in a similar fashion.
Beyond the Pitcher/Hitter relationship, 2K Sports has put a lot of effort into fielding. While not a part of the DPRS, the way players perform on the field has been given a bit of an overhaul. Players have always had ratings for their catching and throwing ability and to a certain extent that has always been reflected in how that player performs. In 2k11 though, they’ve decided to really draw attention to how much these ratings can affect a player. They’ve gone as far as to lock certain play animations out for some players. If a player’s glove rating isn’t high enough to make a certain type of a catch, he won’t be able to do it; it’s that simple.
Most baseball games have given the player a certain amount of help when it comes to getting to the ball. In most cases, the computer will get you started in the right direction while the camera shows the balls trajectory. There’s also a certain level of leniency in how exact the player has to be to make the catch. 2K has said that these help systems are being toned down for this year’s release to make way for a more ratings based fielding system; i.e. the higher a player’s rating, the less exact you have to be when attempting a catch.
The intention of all of this is simple: To provide the baseball experience that the player is expecting. Really, that’s what this year’s MLB release is all about. 2K Sports has set out to create the best baseball experience available. We’ll find out if they’ve hit a home run this March.