Spring training has just come to a close across the country for all Major League Baseball teams, so you know what that means. That’s right, meaningful baseball is literally just around the corner. With the beginning of each baseball season, that means a new iteration of San Diego’s Studios MLB the Show which is exclusive to the Sony Playstation 4. This year’s version of the game is not a giant leap forward in the series, but it is a step in the right direction. I am not going to review every nook and cranny of this game, but I will give you an overview on my thoughts about this game based on the time that I have spent playing.
The first thing I noticed about the game as soon as I loaded it up is the tremendously reduced loading times. Last year’s game loading times were ATROCIOUS. They were REALLY bad. Almost to the point where I could start a game then go to the kitchen and make a sandwich and grab something to drink and maybe, just maybe the game will be loaded and ready to play when I get back. And the load times to actually boot the game from the PS4 dashboard was even worse. So this decrease in load times between 15 and 16 is greatly appreciated.
The show was always a “looker”. Nothing has changed in that department, it’s still a looker and the game actually looks a little crisper then it did last year. Player models are beautiful and the stadiums look great as well. They have added a lot of detail to the game, you know, the little things. Crowds are more animated and the colors in the game pop a little more in comparison to last year. They have improved the lighting in the game as well; it’s a subtle thing that you normally wouldn’t notice if you were not paying attention. But the more you play, the more you notice.
The show’s core mechanics work well in general. I haven’t seen too many janky animations in my time of playing, but I can’t rule them out totally. Nothing is perfect. They have added a number of new animations and player interactions which does make the game run smoothly and look realistic. Overall, it’s hard to break something that works well. Pitching and batting have not changed. Fielding and throwing hasn’t either. I did notice that you seem to have greater control of the throwing power in comparison to last year. Throws could get away from you really quickly last year and the ball could end up in the stands at any time. That issue seems to have been remedied. Errors in general seem to have been turned down as well. In 16, I swear I would have 2 or 3 errors a game. Everything from dropping pop fly’s to just flat out overshooting the first baseman even If I am using the minimum amount of power to throw. In single player mode (RTTS) they have added what they call “Showtime”, in which they slow the game down at certain junctures to give you an attempt at a highlight play. This is something they could have kept out, but you do have the option of turning it off. The core gameplay is classic “Show” and just flat out works. If you are not new and veteran player, you can hop right in and get going. If this is your first time with the game series, the learning curve can be steep and intimidating. But if you understand baseball, you can work your way through it and before you know it you’ll be playing as well as a veteran.
The show has a few different offline game modes that include exhibition, franchise, season and Road To The Show. These are the man vs. cpu modes that we’ve all grown to love an enjoy. Road to the Show or “RTTS” is the My Player of the show and the rest are pretty much self-explanatory. I haven’t played too much of RTTS in the past, nor will I this year, but I have heard that it is an excellent mode and probably the best between all of the sports “myplayer” type modes. I am more of a Franchise and online franchise guy. This leads me to the meat and potatoes of this game.
When it comes to online modes you have a lot to work with. If you just like to hop on play a game against a human opponent, then online rated exhibition games are right up your alley. If you are a league type player, you can join an online franchise battle it out with your friends to see who can win the World Series. But the mode that will probably suck you in is Diamond Dynasty, which is MLB the Shows version of ultimate team or MyTeam. You basically collect cards of players to unlock other players and use these players to play other users. That is the gist of it. You get these cards through buying packs with real money or through “stubbs” which is the in game currency. You can also buy cards in the marketplace, which is a marketplace for buying a selling individual cards and items. They have a mode called “Battle Royale” which is literally a clone Draft kings in Madden. Win enough games and you can receive cards and card packs. Conquest mode is a strategy mode in which you capture locations and fans to gain access to flashback cards and legends. Diamond Dynasty is where San Diego Studios put the bulk of their time and effort mainly because it’s a cash grab for those who want shortcuts to exclusive a powerful cards (players)
This game shines online, but your mileage may vary. I can’t point the finger at San Diego Studios or at the Playstation Network because I simply don’t know who to blame. The Show has been plagued for years with network issues and this year is no different. Although it’s early, and things could be fixed, the “challenge failed” and midgame freezes still effect games online. Seems like Diamond Dynasty is the one mode that actually works MOST of the time, but you will have a hard time connecting to games here and there. Hopefully an upcoming patch will allow online franchise and even online exhibition matches to connect and run smoothly.
Overall, The Show 16 is a solid game. Even though it’s the only baseball game in town worth noting, if you are an owner of a Playstation 4, there is no reason not to buy this game. Although the stability of the online modes leaves a lot to be desired, offline modes are fun and the game is solid mechanically. I highly recommend this game.