I think because it come out early in the year, MLB: The Show is often overlooked and/or underrated come “game of the year” voting time. The rapid fire releases of Madden, NHL, Fifa, and NBA games, not to mention this year’s late slate of racing titles, can overshadow a game that typically drops in the first quarter.
However, I think MLB: The Show is, and has been, the best virtual representation of a sport on the market today. Its quality and improvements aren’t necessarily flashy, but, like baseball itself, the game is full of nuances and details that make it a deep and strategic experience.
That said, it has never been perfect either. Gameplay issues, like too many comebackers to the pitcher, can mar the proceedings. The modes are deep, but not always accessible or exciting. Online has certainly been a mixed bag.
Assuming we all want these well-known quirks to be fixed, here are my top five wishes for MLB: The Show...either next year or next generation.
Just like the Red Sox and their pre-season dreams, so is MLB: The Show forgotten when GOTY voting time comes around.
This is such as simple feature, but one that makes a huge deal for busy people trying to play out a multi-year franchise. All-Star Baseball 2005 did this well, and its about time for it to show up in MLB: The Show.
Instead of starting each at-bat with a fresh count, the game would logically generate a count based on the pitcher/batter ratings. This would not only speed up games, allowing us to play more in a shorter time, but could also help generate statistically realistic walks for those of us who too often swing away. This could also help regulate pitch counts.
While I love playing every game in a season, the truth is, I usually end up simming. Life has a way of getting in the way of virtual baseball season. Generated counts would offer a controllable compromise, and theoretically produce more accurate stats.
Most baseball fans watch the MLB Network throughout the season with great interest.
MLB Network Integration
This channel has become my go-to whenever nothing else is on, thoroughly replacing Sportscenter and ESPN. I would love to see presentation elements, broadcasters, and even entire shows incorporated into The Show.
For instance, a quick MLB Tonight segment would be a great way to recap the games simulated, even if it’s just narrated highlights, a la Berman in NFL 2K5. Perhaps a 30 Clubs in 30 Days presentation during Spring Training could recap the big off-season moves. A quick countdown of the week's top plays could be offered each “weekend” on the calendar. Enhanced post-season atmosphere would also be a natural evolution.
Extend the integration further, tying it into the broadcasting team and in-game elements, and you have a cohesive, realistic, and fan-favorite presentation package. NFL 2K5, College Hoops 2K8, and NBA 2K11 laid the groundwork; it’s time to see a game truly ramp up what presentation can be.
The Franchise Mode in The Show is good, but it's time to get better.
Full GM Options
MLB: The Show’s franchise mode has been solidly deep the past few years, but it’s time to shake things up. While the addition of realistic contract options (Rule 5, arbitration, etc), have added a layer of realism, they haven’t necessarily upped the excitement factor. The same is true for the marketing, banking, and budgeting aspects of the mode.
While I think a revamp is in order, I’d love to see the mode blown out with options that have been seen and enjoyed in other baseball games. Number one on that list for me is an expansion mode, as seen in All Star Baseball. Included here would be a uniform editor, stadium builder, and expansion draft.
Give GM’s the option to relocate if they want. Throw in some random events, like those available in Out of the Park (elimination of the DH?). But most importantly, redesign the interface so these things are easily accessible and manageable--the most recent NFL Head Coach game did this very elegantly.
Time to roll RTTS and GM mode into one.
Ok, so don’t call it that. But I would love to see Road to the Show and Franchise modes rolled into one.
Ideally, this would include cut-aways (again, see the MLB Network) from your team’s game to your player’s key at-bats.
But even at a basic level, merging the two “universes” would allow us to dedicate time to one mode, instead of splitting time between two.
A big injury story might mean one thing for a team’s playoff chances, but might offer a different perspective for a created player trying to make it to the Show. We may want to trade the farm to get our created player on our favorite team.
Either way, there are lots of possibilities when these two modes function as one.
Playing as the current guys is fun and all, but why not try to get the 1927 Yankees?
Great Moments/Historical Teams
I know that this one is hard, due to licensing etc. But NBA 2K13 shows how a game can serve as a living museum of sorts, teaching younger fans--through interactive gameplay--about the great and storied teams of the past. It’s one thing to watch footage of these teams; it’s another to actually play with them.
And, while classic teams are certainly attainable now through roster editing, a dedicated mode would be a baseball lover’s dream. Include footage of the team in action, period specific broadcast elements (see NBA 2K12 or MVP 2005), and authentic classic stadiums.
Going back to the MLB Network integration, an easy place to start is the recent “20 Greatest Games” series, allowing users to replay those games to attain a different or similar results.
If the producers of The Show can fix the small gameplay issues and add some of these elements, it won't matter what time of year it releases. MLB: The Show will be the greatest sports game or the year, if not all time.
What's on your wishlist for MLB: The Show?