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In Memory
Sean Pettibone


Major League Baseball 2K7
(2K Sports for Playstation 3)

By Michael Palisano

2K Sports brings their top game to the field with the release of Major League Baseball 2K7 for the Playstation 3 system. Featuring incredibly realistic visuals, stunningly realistic player models and authentic stadium recreations, the game captures the look of professional ball perfectly. The game lets you control both sides of the field with excellent play mechanics that give you excellent control of pitch type and velocity. Using the Sixaxis controller allows for a unique motion-sensing batting scheme that makes things even more realistic. Multiple play modes allow you to play an exhibition or change lineups in the management mode. Look inside and find out why MLB 2K7 is a deep, well-rounded title that should please sports fans everywhere.

Playing Major League Baseball 2K7 on the Playstation 3 mirrors the look and feel of a televised professional game, with some of the most impressive visuals seen on any next generation sports game to date. While it looks good, there's a lot under the hood as well, with plenty of depth and nuance to keep baseball fans happy. Players can begin with a number of different play modes and can take their team through a single exhibition game, participate in a home run derby, take a full season of action, set up game situations or go behind the scenes in management modes where they can trade, train and purchase players in the back rooms. The game can be played either solo against the computer or against another human opponent. Major League Baseball 2K7 also includes a number of online modes as well, with easily navigable menus that allow for quick set-up and matching which allow you to get on the field quickly. You can choose which players to use from a real-world roster of licensed players including all the major stars of the era. During the game, you can strategize in a number of ways with substitutions, pitching changes and outfield adjustments. Once you have players on base, you can set the size of their leads on bases, change their aggressiveness and have your pitcher check them aggressively. The game does an excellent job in recreating the strategy of the game, and players can choose different strategies based on their team's statistics. Speaking of which, you can purchase inside information on opposing players as well, which you can use in the game to adjust your strategy and play. For example, if you know a hitter has a way of hitting the ball deep, your outfield can be moved back.

The depth extends to the pitching and hitting as well and the game uses what is called a batter's eye that lets you predict and anticipate which pitches will be thrown. If you guess correctly, your swing will have a little extra power and strength. You need to keep your eye on the onscreen indicator which will flash the ball position and pitch type as the pitch is thrown. Doing this correctly helps to increase your contact with the ball and results in fewer pop flies. On the mound, you can select the pitch type easily since each type is mapped to a different button on the controller. Once you release the button, another indicator appears in front of the batter, where you can see where the ball will be thrown and a quick look at their hot zones and cold spots. Pitchers can then select the position and type of pitch and release. You need to pay attention and keep your opposing batters off-balance throughout each at-bat. Getting a feel for each batter allows you to keep them guessing as to which pitch you'll be throwing next, which results in more strike-outs, keeping your ERA low. During the game, you can also decide to warm up pitchers before they relieve your starter, which is important to keep in mind, since a cold start is far less effective. This definitely makes the play of MLB 2K7 feel more authentic and deeper than you'd expect it to be, and this layer of strategy makes players into managers as they try and outsmart their rivals. One of the coolest features of the game allows you to challenge a bad call from the umps, but you need to be careful. If you get too excited and aggressive, your manager might be ejected from the game, and you'll lose the ability to select pitchers, strategize and more, since these will be decided by your staff automatically.

One of the most innovative aspects of the game on the Playstation 3 is the ability of players to utilize the Sixaxis controller as a virtual bat. Holding the controller at an even position to your body, you simply need to push it forward to swing the bat. You can also hold it back to bunt, or push forward if you want to produce a strong swing for the fences. To aim your bat, you simply need to tilt the controller in the direction you hope the ball will go. It's a fairly simple system to use, though it takes some getting used to in order to learn the timing and technique of this system. You might want to take a few swings in a practice mode in order to master the motion sensing controller, but it becomes much more intuitive once you get the hang of it. While it doesn't seem necessary, this approach definitely adds a lot to the gameplay, adding a new dimension to the experience that definitely feels like a step forward. For players who want more traditional controls, you can set the batting to use a simple hit of the X button, or use a more complicated swing system where you need to push the controller back then forward to hit the ball. These control systems are quite effective and allow the gamer to get right into the action while also providing plenty of depth to the gameplay.

Major League Baseball 2K7 is loaded with extra features and bonuses that add plenty of depth to the game. Each player included features many of their signature moves along with strategies and mechanics, making the game feel much more realistic. There are a number of options you can select from at the start of each game including time of day, difficulty and stadium, which lets you create a custom game if you want. You can also choose which team jerseys they want to use including many classic uniforms as well, there are some pretty cool surprises that should make older baseball fans happy here as well, but we won't spoil them for you out there. The game modes themselves allow you to plenty of variety. You can substitute pitchers on the fly and try players in different position. There are also several unexpected surprises lurking in the menus. For example, there are several types of home run derby, where you can adjust the number of players and strikes allowed as well. Players can also set up a game situation by inning, score and position and try and win the ballgame from that point as well. You can also choose to play the game online with other players, which adds even more to the enjoyment. Finally, there are several management modes available where you can buy, trade and sell players and go behind the scenes in operations mode. The game's depth is apparent in the number of stats that you can use during the game to make decisions about who to start and when to start them. You can call up these lists at any time and use these notes on the fly during game situations to figure out what your next move might be.

From a visual standpoint, Major League Baseball 2K7's presentation is superb. Each player on the field is animated brilliantly with realistic movements that makes them look amazingly life-like. You can see their facial expressions and body language in each move and their reactions are quite effective throughout. The graphics engine is quite smooth as well and there's an almost seamless transition between in-game and cinematic replay sequences. You can definitely feel the atmosphere of the game underpinning the action with the authentic recreations of each major league baseball park, complete with realistic spectators in the stands and PA announcements. The game's production values are further enhanced by excellent play-by-play commentary and music that brings each game to life. With it superb production values creating a highly polished experience, the solid gameplay is even more impressive. You can definitely see the effort that has gone into recreating the pace, strategy and action of each game. The unique controls make this a standout title, which offers plenty of depth and numerous modes of play either on or offline. Major League Baseball 2K7 is definitely one of the more impressive baseball titles on next-generation consoles, making it a solid release that delivers a deep and satisfying experience.

- Michael Palisano


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