Earlier today, I went hands-on with the Xbox 360 version of Visual Concepts' MLB 2K10 to wrap my head around the game's all-new "Total Control Pitching" system and ratings-based gameplay. First, however, I like to start every preview with a new trailer. So I will:
Pitching is now controlled by selecting a pitch-type and matching it to a gesture on the right analog stick. The accuracy and speed of the pitch are both determined by the gesture and ratings of the pitcher. Player ratings affect pitching in realistic ways. If a pitcher's stamina is low, he's going to get tired if his pitch count gets too high--resulting in slower and less accurate pitches.
Composure is a particularly interesting rating. Get into a tough situation (bases loaded with no outs) with a low-composure pitcher and aiming will get harder. You might even lose your aiming marker entirely or the strike zone could disappear.
The gestures are easy to pick-up, but practice will definitely make perfect. Overshooting the stopping point of a gesture could send the pitch into a batter's hot zone. Skilled players will be able to purposefully over or undershoot gestures to let a pitch hang or cut even more. It's a very rewarding way to pitch and I can't imagine going back to any other system after playing MLB 2K10.
Statistics will also play into the probabilities of getting a hit at every pitch. Visual Concepts goes as far as tracking every player's batting average against right-handed or left-handed pitchers at every step in the count. If a particular batter, in his real-life career, gets most of his hits when facing a 2-1 count, the gamers's probability to snag a hit in this situation will be higher in-game. It's not a guarantee, but not insignificant.
MLB 2K10 will be released next Tuesday (March 2, 2010) for the PC, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, PSP, and Nintendo DS.