It seems that with every passing year, video game sports simulations are constantly becoming more authentic. In the past 4 years, no series has lived up to that standard more so than MLB The Show from SCE San Diego Studio. With little room for improvement, they have once again proved why not only is the series the best baseball game on the market, it also sets the standard for sports simulation as a whole. Sorry Madden fans, while MLB 10 The Show may not be perfect it really is just that damn good.
Let’s start off with the presentation, shall we? MLB 10 is all about the spectacle of attending a Major League game. Whether it’s opening day, or the bottom of the 9th of the World Series, there’s just something magical about the game that can’t be described, yet this title manages to replicate that same magical feeling you get from a day at the ball park.
Maybe it’s the guy in the stands selling peanuts. Maybe it’s the home crowd taunting the visiting pitcher. Maybe it’s the same crowd running at the chance of catching a foul ball. Or maybe it’s the subtle thud a passed ball makes when it hits the backstop behind you. Either way, you’ll constantly have moments, no matter how many hours into the game it seems where you’ll see something being done on screen or something heard in the background that will make your eyebrows raise and you’ll think to yourself “no way, did I just really see/hear that?”
So how do you review a title with no ending? Sports titles, unlike other games, don’t have a conclusion in the traditional sense. I took that very much into consideration while figuring just how I would review this title in order to provide an accurate in-depth analysis.
While playing the franchise mode I decided to choose the NY Mets. No not because I’m a masochist, but because they’re actually my favorite team and I follow them quite closely in real life. With that said, I know and keep track of most of the starting line-ups as well as well as pitching staffs of the opposing teams in the National League East Division considering the Mets play each of them 18 times in a season. This is what helped me really test out the true authenticity of the title.
I just have to say that no other sports game title on the market mimics their real life counter part the way The Show does. Forget about realistic uniforms and recognizable faces, any game can do that. When you play the game just check out the way they [the players] back off the plate in between pitches and adjust their batting gloves. Every single player is different and yet manages to stay true to their real life version of themselves. It’s almost scary at times.
I want to give an example of one instance that made me really think why MLB 10 The Show is the most realistic sports game ever made and at the same time made me realize just how many problems truly lie for my beloved Mets this upcoming season (in real life).
WARNING: the following section will be baseball heavy, if you don’t understand the jargon, please do yourself a favor and look at all the pretty pictures and final review at the bottom instead. If you think you’re ready, then by all means, please read on.
I was playing against the Phillies, and I started the game with Johan Santana on the mound. All was well, as Johan was in complete control for most of the game and had given up only 1 run in Six and Two Thirds of an inning. I knew Johan was running out of gas but insisted on getting him through the inning. I was up to the 8th batter in the lineup, which was the right-handed hitting John Mayberry. Instead of pitching him low and inside to see if I can fool him, I went right to attacking him. Bad. Move.
Mayberry would then take one of my sliders into the gap between center and right field and belt out a stand up double in the process. I immediately started warming up lefty Pedro Feliciano and Righty Sean Green. I figured I’d need them both to get out of this jam. Following Mayberry’s double, Phillies bring up a right-hander to pinch hit for Halladay. Taking no chances I bring in Sean Green and go to work. The CPU however had other plans. I pitch a four seem fastball up and in, in hopes that I can get the batter to pop-up. Instead I hear the 3 worst words you can hear in that situation: broken bat blooper.
Now I have runners on 1st and 3rd with two out’s and J-Ro headed to the plate. I’m officially nervous.
I saw that he was going to hit lefty, so I thought I’d be smart and bring in Feliciano. Pedro comes in, and I opt to not give him his 8-pitch warm up session on the mound. Can you guess what happened next? If you guessed J-Ro smacks one down the line for a triple than you’re right.
As I saw my lead dissapear into thin air, I thought to myself, oh look the bullpen has ruined a game for Johan Sanatana, where have I seen this before? Oh that’s right, the entire 2009 season. Is that authentic enough for you? Did I feel the game cheated me? Maybe. Did I deserve it for poor management and simply waiting too long to take Johan out and setting up my bullpen accordingly? Definitely.
The draw to The Show series isn’t only the visuals or the authenticity. It’s a big part of it, but it’s not what will suck you in. What will, is its incredibly deep “Road to the Show” (RTTS) mode. To break it down in video game laymen’s terms, this mode is essentially an RPG for fans of MLB. So you wont be gaining XP or MP or summoning baseball gods, however, you will be earning training and attribute points as you try to take your created player from a AA club all the way to, you guessed it… The Show.
What’s great about it is that you only play as your created character the whole way through. While you do have the option to sit through an entire game and wait for your turn to hit or field, the game thankfully allows you to skip to parts that only include your player. In other words, you’re always involved in the action.
And while it’s by far the most immersive career mode in any sports game, it doesn’t necessarily mean its the easiest either. Not by a long shot. Just like any other minor league ball player, it’s a daily grind. Not only do you have to perform at top level, but you have to be consistent about it as well. What good is a power hitter, who can’t catch a beach ball? You’re judged on every facet of your game and it will determine how fast you move up in the ranks or how low you can bottom out.
If competing against guys on your teams roster and depth chart isn’t enough, sometimes the major league club you’re affiliated with may have too many players who already play your position. This is an example of one of the many tangibles that determine whether or not you get your chance to go the big dance.
RTTS is enthralling enough on it’s own right, that I think some would agree that it can be a stand alone title. The fact that it’s part of a bigger product makes The Show that much more worth it.
The game isn’t all wine and roses, as there are some underlying issues that need to be addressed. The first is something that you’ll notice immediately when you pop the game in, and that is a mandatory install. This wouldn’t have been something to nitpick in 2007, but we’re now in 2010 and to that I have to say is, come on already! There’s no excuse for 1st party titles to ship like this anymore. I didn’t accept it in Heavy Rain, and it’s no different with The Show. It only took a few minutes, but it’s pretty annoying.
The second issue is something that leads me back to the first one. It’s something that doesn’t occur too often, but when it does, it makes you think to yourself “what the hell just happened?” What I’m talking about is when the game slows down to the point that you think you’re system is about to lock up, only to have the game speed up EXTREMELY quick.
This happened on my very first pitch of my very first game. The pitcher wound up, and as the ball was rolling off of his fingertips, everything came to what seemed like a standstill. I thought to myself “awesome, I must have correctly guessed the pitch, time to smack it out of the park”, then all of a sudden the game sped up, super quick and the ball came in at like 200 mph. Now, as I said this rarely happens, and I’ve only seen it while hitting and on fly balls/line drives. I just wonder if it’s a memory caching issue and if so then why the hell am I forced to install 4gb of game data, which leads me back to my original complaint.
As I stated though, the second complaint is only an annoyance because of the 1st one, and again the instances when it did occur were very few and far between.
To wrap up this review before it goes in extra innings, it’s quite simple really. Last years iteration of The Show was a home run, and MLB 10 The Show is a grand slam. Visually it may be hard to tell the major differences at first, but after some time with the game you will notice just how much better everything looks and plays this year. For fans of the MLB who are looking for the ultimate baseball experience MLB 10 The Show is an absolute must buy. For fans of great video games, you need to give MLB 10 The Show a really good look as well.
- Title: MLB 10 the Show
- Platform Reviewed: PS3
- Developer: SCE San Diego Studios
- Publisher: SCEA
- Release Date: Out Now
- MSRP: $59.99
- Review Copy Info: A copy of the title was provided to DualShockers Inc by the publisher for review purposes