Another spring season means another year of Major League Baseball, and outside of death and taxes, you can always count on a MLB The Show experience to go along with opening day.
While many sports franchises rise and fall between safe bet releases and games that push the envelope, MLB The Show has been on a steady rise for a number of years now. While 2019 marks their most ‘safe’ release in the last number of year, there is still lots to be excited about for baseball fans!
Although Sony doesn’t technically have the exclusive rights to launching a baseball game anymore – as RBI Baseball has done a good job of slowly moving forward year after year – they are still the only company promoting and releasing a full simulation of the real deal, and the advancements made in 2018 are further built upon this year.
Aesthetically, the game looks fantastic, from the player character models to the fields you will be hitting dingers in. No small detail has been left out, and the development team has done a great job making each and every park feel as close to their real life counterparts as possible. While most sports games can get away with subpar arena or stadium mechanics – see NHL and NBA as an example – the slower pace of baseball requires each and every aspect to be top notch. The development team delivered, not only in the aesthetics, but the game itself.
MLB The Show has never felt so real. While the big fielding changes were brought in last year, small tweaks have made 2019 the premier edition of the franchise to own. Small tweaks here and there have made this year’s version just a bit better than lasts, and while the game lacks major jumps in fielding mechanics – as I believe they were unnecessary – there are enough tweaks and superior performance to make yearly fans dive in for another installment.
The biggest obvious improvement to me is more detailed statistics on who you are using. A veteran short stop with years of experience and perhaps a few gold glove wins or nominations will generally perform better than an untested rookie. This means thinking about who is in your lineup, and how you use your team depending on the hitting characteristics of your opponent, that much more important.
Most of the typical modes are back, including the card collecting Diamond Dynasty as well as the Road to the Show, which has been enhanced with more RPG elements to add another layer of depth to the ‘story’ element of Road to the Show. Small quality of life improvements were also added to Franchise mode as well.
Two new modes that have been added are March to October and Moments. In March to October, players are tasked with playing pivotal moments of their favorite teams season in hopes of making the post season, and ultimately winning the World Series. For those that don’t want to invest the time into a full season, March to October provides a shorter experience that only requires you to play the most important parts. That might be saving a shutout, or perhaps being in the bottom of the 9th down by a few runs, and needing a victory.
Every part of the season you play will either provide positive momentum for your squad, or negatives momentum, depending on the outcome. Obviously, getting to the World Series with the Blue Jays will require a lot more work than, say, making it to the dance with the Yankees. Either way, it’s a great way to quickly play through a season, and see the most important moments of that season.
Moments plays off some of the modes offered in the EA NHL and NFL franchises, dropping you into key historical situations and asking you to recreate the outcome. Some are fairly easy, such as recreating a grand slam moment to win a game, while others require a bit more strategy and time. These are great ways to relive some of your favorite moments of the past MLB seasons, but also a great way – in my opinion – to better understand the controls and perfect those key strategies in a controlled environment.
MLB The Show 19 is better than it has ever been, and longtime fans of the franchise will enjoy the new options brought to the table. If you aren’t a yearly subscriber to the game, this is a year you won’t want to pass up on, especially if you missed some of the better improvements made in 2018. This is the complete baseball package, with few missteps along the way. If you are looking to offset your baseball watching this season, MLB The Show is the way to go!