MLB The Show is one of the most anticipated sports game titles annually. Its release garners high marks from both fans and critics based on its realism and the consistent new features that are introduced every year. The PlayStation title’s artful palette continues to grow as MLB The Show 17 on PS4 continues to push the visual envelope and improve with added capabilities.
If there is only one thing to say about MLB The Show 17: It continues to be the model that all sports games should follow.
There was much to report regarding the new features and improvements that MLB The Show 17 would deliver. From the first game of The Show 17, I saw, heard and felt the changes within the game. The game didn’t need many improvements, if at all, so this year’s additions only added to the legend that is MLB The Show.
Let’s break down MLB The Show 17 beginning with its presentation:
The biggest change in terms of presentation for the game was the announcement of two new color analysts. Out are Eric Karros and Steve Lyons and in comes Dan Plesac and Harold Reynolds. Matt Vasgersian remains the play-by-play man for MLB The Show 17 and while everyone should have been changed in the booth, I think Vasgersian’s excitement and conversational style works for this game.
It seems that Reynolds is taking the Lyons spot in MLB The Show of not saying too much during games. Plesac is in the Karros role as he and Vasgersian has more to say to one another and Reynolds interjects where he sees fit. In future editions of The Show, more balance needs to be found as all three voices should be prominent throughout as it keeps the games fresh.
The addition of MLB Network integration is something that is way overdue. I mentioned in a previous article that other games such as EA Sports’ NHL franchise introduced integration with NBC Sports and their NHL package. Baseball had to be next in my opinion and what better network to use than Major League Baseball’s own network.
Gameplay Continues To Evolve
While baseball games are not overly difficult to play in comparison to football or hockey games, MLB The Show 17 has a “tutorial” that shows the ins and outs of the game. From throwing to the cutoff man, how to throw pickoff pitches and explaining how the pitching meter works, The Show gives new users a chance to learn the game, along with the option to turn off the tips once they get the hang of the game. For veteran players of MLB The Show, the tips introduce the new elements in The Show 17 that players may not know.
The one issue that I had with MLB The Show 16 was the major difference between timing and analog hitting. Unless you adjusted the sliders in the game, analog hitting was very difficult to master while timing hitting was too easy. In MLB The Show 17 , Sony adjusted both timing and analog hitting to make them both equally as challenging but also, not impossible to nail down.
Pitching and fielding is improved this year as SCEA put a lot of focus in changing up how pitchers pitch and fielders field the ball. Pitching still requires moving the ball around the plate but this year, pitchers are more effective at making batters uncomfortable, which leads to more swings-and-misses and strikeouts.
In regard to fielding, the past years saw one animation for fielders no matter who was running base to base. MLB The Show 17 features new wrinkles added to fielding as you are now able to select the base you want to throw to before the ball comes to the fielder, which helps when dealing with speedy runners like Billy Hamilton of the Cincinnati Reds or Dee Gordon of the Miami Marlins.
Road To The Show
The big news for Road To The Show was that it would take on a RPG-feel. This added dimension allowed players to make decisions that could make or break a player’s career instead of just focusing on per-game on-field play. I may have made a couple of questionable decisions during the early part of my career (only played in one showcase game, asked about money in a contract) that resulted in me being drafted in the third round as opposed to the first round of the MLB Draft.
Another addition was the voiceover that accompanied your decisions in Road To The Show. While I would have liked talking inside Road To The Show a la NBA 2K , the narration does a good job going over what is going on after a choice is selected. The reactions from the player and the other parties who are involved in the cutscenes helps tell the story as well. Road To The Show is a deep mode and will give you hours of playing time as you will make odd decisions just to see the end result, which is the best part of RPG games.
This was the mode that I was bearish about. I started remembering older baseball games and recalling how repetitive it could get and thought this mode could not be very entertaining. I was proved correct... to a point. The simplicity of one button pitching while using the analog stick to move the pitch was a nod to throwback baseball games. One button hitting was also a nice touch while the on-screen graphics and score bugs added to the retro feel.
My issue with Retro Mode was that the stadiums were not made to look retro. A true retro mode would have seen the stadiums changed to a 16-bit-like look while retaining the dimensions and look of current stadiums. Player models looked very close to normal looking players, which also took away from what the mode should be. Retro Mode will be fun with friends, but that’s it.
Diamond Dynasty and Franchise were modes that I was unable to get into due to time but both of those modes will receive their own reviews in the coming weeks.
MLB The Show 17 continues to be the standard that all sports games aspire to. Even with a couple of hiccups in Retro Mode and Road To The Show, MLB The Show 17 is still one of the most complete sports games on the market today and it will only continue to evolve every year. MLB The Show 17 is a must get for sports gaming fans.