Reviewed: March 14, 2010
Released: March 2, 2010
March is here and along with it comes the smell of fresh cut grass, sunflower seeds and hot dogs which have been cooking since last baseball season. Baseball is one of those oddball licenses for video game systems. Technically 2K Sports has an “exclusive” license but Sony has a license for their PS3 and PSP products. Thank God! Don't get me wrong, 2K has a very good baseball game this year and it's on every viable platform. But even their 2K10 edition doesn't beat Sony's MLB The Show from last season. Pretty soon Sony will have to hit the ceiling.
There wasn't much to improve on from MLB 09 The Show. It was a great game with a few little omissions. But it still was close to the best baseball simulation ever created. So I was really looking forward to MLB 10 The Show to arrive. It was certainly worth the wait! It took less than one minute of gameplay to see some stunning graphical improvements. When you check under the hood and investigate other menus the real strength of MLB 10 The Show comes out.
There are the usual list of game modes you see in every sports game, but MLB 10 The Show really shines with their Road to The Show mode. In additional to the already great mode from last year, they now have included two new options: RTTS Game Watch and RTTS Game Completion. This allows users to set how much of the game they wish to see by setting All Pitches, All Fielding, Result Play, and Off. Users now start their career in AA ball to earn their spot in Spring Training.
To teach and enforce good fundamental baseball, Sony has implemented two new systems. The first is a mistake tracking system that will keep track of how users play the game, penalizing you for throwing to the wrong base or not covering a base etc. The other feature is a Green Light system, which is a kind of reward for good base running. If you continue to steal after the green light has been revoked, your playing time will go down. If you get revoked, you have to improve your speed and base running to get the green light back. Additionally there is a new stat tracking system that keeps stats for your player’s career versus ever pitcher or batter faced.
Back from the abyss comes the all-new Home Run Derby. Fully implemented in season modes during the all-star break, it is also available as a stand-alone mode for when you have your friends over and need a quick baseball fix. It's great to have it in the game, but its not quite up to the arcade fun of The Bigs.
MLB10 The Show includes all Major League Baseball franchises plus the two all-star teams and additional Golden Era and Silver Era teams. The really great thing about the historical teams is the players play like their real life counterparts. The pitchers have all kinds of weird windups and things they would do back in the day. What also sets MLB 10 apart is the addition of minor league teams. Sony included 60 AA-AAA teams making it by far the most widely fan friendly game in years. Everyone from Cleveland Indians to Toledo Mudhens fans should be thrilled.
Online gameplay is probably the area of least improvement from last season but there are still enough improvements to beat any competition. The main area is just in the overall online experience. The game is much better at detecting and responding to bad network conditions and low bandwidth players to help the speed and overall flow of games. Additionally there are improvements in the online leagues in that they are now fully functional! The new online season leagues save and display MLB player stats, track player energy, and offer the full 40 man roster functionality.
Last years graphics in MLB 09 The Show were pretty amazing. This years MLB 10 The Show is off the charts incredible. The presentation is near photo quality. I had a friend over with his son to check out the game and his son thought I was watching a real baseball game! The presentation is as authentic a baseball experience as I've seen on any TV.
The number of overall animations has gone up considerably. Sony captured more than 1,250 new gameplay animations, more than 1,000 new presentation animations, and more than 400 personalized pitcher and batter animations. That means the players will move and behave like their real life counterparts. The results are flat out amazing. Pitchers even chew sunflower seeds (or other not so healthy products). The stadium realism is another detail that Sony improved significantly. This year MLB 10 The Show has transitional lighting so if the game starts at noon, as the day wears on the sun moves and the shadows get longer.
The addition of 5 new minor league stadiums and classic parks such as Forbes Field, Crosley Field, The Polo Grounds, Shibe Park, Sportsman Park, and Griffith Stadium just add to the amazement. The ambiance of the stadiums now includes home run splash counters, fireworks, steam, noisemakers, towels, thunder sticks, and working real time analog and digital clocks. Crowds reach over the rails, interact with the hot dog vendors and even place the K strikeout signs on the rail. Every team mascot can be found wandering around the stadiums too. If all that wasn't enough, MLB10 The Show now has an even more robust camera system available. The positioning of the cameras looks like you are watching a real TV broadcast.
Rex Hudler, Matt Vasgersian, and Dave Campbell return to the broadcast booth and provide the most comprehensive commentary I've heard in a baseball game. There is a “progressive commentary system” which changes the dialog by adapting to current actions and situations. I'm not a huge fan of their particular style of delivery, but for a video game this is as good as it gets so far.
Users can now assign music or a recording to an entire team this year (not just to a specific player). You can edit tracks to assign batter walk-up music or record your own voice and assign it to a specific team or player during the situations of your choice. This can be dangerous in itself. I found it hilariously fun to assign sound clips from the movie Bull Durham to certain events. If you want to spend all day assigning audio clips from Major League, Field of Dreams and other classics you can make the game a lot of laughs when you have friends come over to play.
Sony really has included so much in this game. The return of Home Run Derby and the ongoing tweaks to an already great game has made it stand out above any other baseball game. Sony thankfully is updating the “live roster” every week throughout the MLB season. Each update will include all rosters changes, new players with correct attributes, and they update the stats to reflect current hot and cold streaks.
The only down side to any MLB game on the market, it they do not include players that crossed over the picket lines during the strike/lockout a few years ago. A couple of these players are still around and have even won a World Series ring. But I suspect as part of the deal with the players union, the “scabs” cannot be recognized in these games even though they pay union dues now. It's a sad thing when all these grown men playing a kids game for a living can't get over petty issues.
Sony has included the usual 18 page manual which I bet rarely has left the game case of any baseball fan. But they do like the PS3 trophies, which there are many. There are over 40 trophies available including 2 secret/hidden trophies. Naturally the bronze trophies are not that difficult – but for some reason I had a difficult time hitting the apple at Citifield. But they quickly get time consuming like winning the World Series without simulating any games. In all, these trophies are a good motivator to keep playing, but I just gave up trying and had fun playing the game. Occasionally I would get a trophy without deliberately trying and it's more fun.
MLB10 The Show is as close as anyone has come to baseball perfection. Everything from head to toe has been tweaked to provide the best baseball game on the market on any platform. The devil is in the details and Sony is scorching hot with MLB 10 The Show. Now they can add the GCM editor’s choice for baseball games in 2010 to their trophy case.