It’s that time of the year again, America’s baseball teams are dusting off the winter rust in Spring training getting set for the 2010 MLB season. And Sony is poised to bring gamers the most detailed baseball experience ever with MLB 10: The Show. This year the development team focued on the details, from the facial expressions of the players, to the vendors in the stands. While the core game has pretty much remained the same, new game mode additions, graphical tweaks, and new environment details makes MLB 10: The Show easily the most realistic baseball gaming experience ever.
Fans of the prior years game will feel right at home, and be happy to know that Sony has listened to your calls and made some much welcomed additions. The highly missed Home Run Derby is finally in the game. Gamers can jump right into the Home Run Derby or as they play through season modes the Home Run Derby as well as Futures Game and All-Star Games will be played during the All-Star Week. While it’s great having the Home Run Derby, I was a bit let down. The Home Run Derby in real life has taken on a life of its own with different gimmicks, like special prize targets around the stadium, streaking ball tv graphics effects, and the golden charity ball. None of these gimmicks are in the game and would have made the Home Run Derby a lot more exciting.
Most of the other new features are found within the gameplay itself. For instance players can now play the game as the catcher, calling the pitches and become the ultimate field general. The camera system has also been revamped with more true to life broadcast camera angles. For pitchers there is a more robust pick-off system. Instead of a single pick-off type players can now choose between three types of pick-offs., you can either use a casual, quick or deceptive pick-off. Also the game has received some nice multiplayer updates both online and offline. Season modes can now handle 1-30 players, so now you can run your ultimate league with friends at home, in the dorm of over the Playstation Network. Rounding out some of the new additions is the inclusion of 11 new stadiums, all current MLB stadiums, plus 5 new Minor League stadiums and 6 classic ballparks.
My favorite mode of the series has been Road to The Show for many years. And this years RTTS mode moves to version 4.0. The first change gamers will see is how the game is presented. You now have some choices you can play as normal, only when your player is involved, or you can watch various parts of the game when not involved. Also new this year, instead of starting in Spring Training you will be drafted to a AA team where you need to earn a spot for the following years training. To make the game even more realistic there are to new tracking systems. The first is the mistake tracker, where throwing to the wrong base or not covering the correct base will have a negative impact on your playing time. The second new system is the Green Light system. This system focuses on base running, those who have good base stealing abilities will have a green light those who don’t will be penalized and have their green light status revoked. Once your green light status is revoked you will need to work on speed and base running skills to gain it back. Last year we saw the addition of batting practice and base running drills to RTTS mode. This year we get the added fielding drills and pitching training. While similar to last year these drills are only offered every few weeks and have only a slight effect on your skills. There is also now the option to participate in pre-game batting practice, which adds to the realism of the game but would have been nice if it also helped your batting skills a bit.
While the gameplay additions are great, MLB 10: The Show really shines in the graphics department. The players have never looked this good, and the new animations especially the facial animations are amazing and give these virtual players some emotion. Strike out on a big play and your player will show disappointment. Or when the ball just makes it over the wall, don’t be surprised when the outfielder slams the wall in anger with his fists. And the graphical details have gone beyond the on-field players, the crowds look great as well. Fans in the first row will lean over for foul balls, and even sometimes fall over onto the field. You will now see people walking around the stadiums.
The lighting system has also received some work as well. Games that start in the afternoon will transition to night all the while stadium shadows will shift across the field.
For the most part the graphics are top notch and are surprisingly better then last years amazing graphics, but there are some bugs and hiccups. While there are thousands of animations in the game, their transitions aren’t always smooth. There are times where batters start to run during foul balls just to pop magically back to the plate. Also fielders transitioning from catching ground balls to running can be shaky and sometimes lead to missed outs. And lastly this year’s broadcast graphics are a bit on the dark side. The on-screen graphics lack pop and are just bland.
The sounds of the game are still top notch, and those who enjoyed the customizations last year will be happy they are back. Attach a usb mic or PS3 headset and you can record your own cheers and jeers. The commentary team of Rex Hudler, Matt Vasgersion and Dave Campbell are also back, unfortunately they are still rather bland and get quickly repatative. While the commentary transitions have been improved, for instance if they begin to talk about the keys to the game only to actually interrupt themselves due to a nice 2 base hit, it sounds real well. But the real sound gems comes from the stadium, the crowds will become quite during slumps in the game but when you are at home knocking home runs the place will sound electric.
While I’m no where near a baseball fan, The Show has been and continues to be one of my favorite sports games. This years attention to detail really makes the series shine. Each time you play a game you pick-up on new little nuggets from the peanut guys walking the stands, to the crowds milling about in common areas. The core gameplay remains solid and the tweaks to the various systems are very nice. Road to The Show remains a fun experience and my favorite mode of all, and it’s great to finally have a true representation of All-Star week. While the game does have a few hiccups, such as repetitive commentary, occasional animation transition issues and some rather bland broadcast graphics, these issues don’t really tarnish this great game. For hardcore Baseball fans you’ll enjoy the franchise and RTTS modes, for the casual fan you’ll be hooked just like I was 4 years ago on RTTS and also spend hours with friends slugging it out in the Home Run Derby. MLB 10: The Show continues to be an amazing Baseball experience for al levels of baseball fans.
[starreviewmulti id=5 tpl=46]
[starratingmulti id=5 tpl=49]