MLB 10 The Show - PS3 - Review
(To quote a familiar broadcast-baseball call) "It might be, it could be, it is!!!"
SCEA has swung for the fences with the latest iteration of MLB The Show and planted the pitch solidly in the bleachers.
When the foundations are solid, there is not much else to do but build upwards. That was probably the mantra the SCEA San Diego dev team was reciting when creating MLB 10: The Show. After all, the game is the 10th iteration of the franchise, with a short development time. But that doesn’t mean there are not changes. Actually, No. 10 has some nice features added into the mix, and it has been graphically enhanced to create a more vibrant and compelling baseball game.
(It needs to be noted that this review was based on a debug, or test kit, review code of the game, which was unaffected by the problems currently plaguing PS3 retail units. Multiplayer connectivity to retail servers was not available.)
The game doesn’t actually hit retails until March 2, at which point the servers will be up for the multiplayer element, which features the ability for a 30-player season mode, also available in the franchise mode.
So, if you are a fan of the series (which happens to be the pre-eminent baseball franchise in release and is exclusive to the PS3), you want to cut to the chase and know what’s new. After all, baseball is baseball, and the game doesn’t have to be explained.
So let’s run down the list of some of the major new elements …
In the RTTS (Road to the Show) mode, players can take on the role of a catcher and call every pitch. This is akin to micro-management in real-time strategy games. It is immersive, but can be a bit overwhelming. Typically, players play one position and the game fast forwards to the next instance when that player is involved. Playing the catcher, though, means being involved constantly defensively. Sure, you skip offensive innings if not at bat, but you call each pitch and manage the infield with pitch out, intentional walks and pick-off throws. It sounds laborious, but actually this is a lot of fun – more so than playing a field position.
The setup is much like that for the pitcher, except you don’t have a velocity meter to play with. You call the pitch and the location. Training points are a bit tougher to come up with initially, and the games take longer to play through. Add to that the pitchers will tire and not hit the spots you are calling and it becomes a case of selective management. ("Hey, I know your arm is about to fall off so just pipe it! Let's try to get this guy out so we can go home!") Need that ground ball for a double play? Try something low, and if the batter is tattooing the heat, call for a slurve, a circle change, or another off-speed pitch. It’s tactical, and entertaining.
The game has new collision detection, and some new AI tweaks that make for a much richer and realistic experience. As someone who has spent a great deal of time as an infielder in RTTS, playing a pro-active catcher position put some new life into the game.
The AI has been stepped up and that extends to the crowds as well. With 11 new ballparks thrown into the mix, this version has raised the bar from MLB 9.
The UI has thrown in a movie maker option to give players the ability to take 10 replays and create a movie, even with the ability to change camera angles. Training modes allow players to elevate skills – which is important in RTTS when trying to move up to the Show.
Just want to get to some hammering time? Take a couple of friends and enter the Home Run Derby. While mostly about timing, these guys make abusing a baseball or targeting fans in the outfield stands look easy.
There is also a new pickoff move system to make moves to snag a leaning runner more deceptive. The game is rife with tweaks and changes that really bring home a dynamic experience. When it comes to the announcing, it's solid as usual, though Rex Hudler seems to have stepped up the criticism more. The musical tracks are pretty good and there are some solid surprises from bands many may not have heard of. The Soundtrack of Our Lives, Band of Skulls, and Night Horse are all featured artists, delivering tunes that are pretty good the first few times heard, but then it gets repetitious and easy down that function works just as well.
Of course, players can adjust the difficulty settings with a host of sliders that target about every element of the game, and custom player creation is pretty deep as well.
Online will feature the Season Leagues, Roster Updates, that aforementioned Player Season Mode and the SCOUT matching system for online games.
Sure, MLB 10 is not perfect, but this is a darn fine baseball game, and it has taken an otherwise solid base and built upwards to create an experience baseball video-game fans should enjoy.
Review Scoring Details for MLB 10: The Show
The new elements really bring a solid dimension to the overall game. A new camera system also picks up the visual elements and the game controls are well done.
The new collision detection, the way the environment plays into the game and the lighting effects really bring this game to the forefront of baseball-based games.
Some good tunes and solid play-by-play. Dave Campbell does solid color commentary, but Rex Hudler is more of a naysayer throughout.
The game foundations have been improved and the new elements really create a solid gaming experience.
The code received prohibited this element from being played.
While the game is not perfect it is a far sight better than previous iterations. Years ago there was a MVP baseball game on the PC that was top-drawer (IMO) and MLB 10 rivals, if not exceeds, that. Top to bottom, this is an entertaining game to look at and play.