MLB The Show is a great video game. From the presentation and graphics, down to the gameplay, animations and sounds of the Show, MLB The Show continues to impress. In addition, one thing fans of the franchise have been able to consistently rely on is Road to the Show. Road to the Show isn’t a franchise mode, or a story mode like NBA 2K or FIFA -- not that there’s anything wrong with either of the two, but Road to the Show is on an entirely different level.
For those that don’t know, Road to the Show is the highly popular game mode where users create a player and watch him progress through the ranks from the minors to the majors. Much like in the real world, this opportunity doesn’t come easy. Players must continue to progress from game to game, month to month, until finally getting their chance to play in the majors. I’ve been a huge fan of the series, but have often found myself struggling to put in the time and work to see my name in lights. That has changed this season, and I am determined to make Josh Houtz a household name.
One of the things that sets RttS apart is the extremely detailed creation suite each player is able to utilize. From your player’s eye size to their cheek bones, all the way down to the size of your player’s thighs, the possibilities are endless. Furthermore, you have the ability to fully customize your player’s equipment, batter’s music, cheers and jeers, and everything in between. If you’re not happy with your current selection of equipment, hop into Diamond Dynasty mode and unlock new and improved gear.
Although the customization suite is extremely detailed, as an owner of the PlayStation Eye I’m a bit disappointed that you are unable to scan your face into the game. I understand this process isn’t flawless, and I’ve stumbled upon issues in games like NBA 2K that do utilize this feature. However, instead of trying to replicate my face using the extensive customization suite, it would be much easier to scan my face into the game.
Lastly, I like having the ability to play through RttS and other game modes to unlock equipment. However, I feel that users should have more options available upon release. Perhaps allow each player to choose an equipment sponsor, unlocking several brand-specific items. I realize I’m just nitpicking, but I feel like this would allow players to reach their full potential when creating a player from scratch.
If you’ve played MLB the Show prior to this latest installment, you have a pretty good idea of how the game plays. With improved animations on both sides of the plate, The Show is even more fine tuned than previous installments. Players are again drafted based on their performance at the East/West All-Star game. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t impress as much as I would have liked and ended up getting drafted in the sixth round by the Atlanta Braves. The first thing you will notice is the added cutscenes in this year’s installment. Road to the Show almost plays out like a documentary, with a narrator explaining different situations throughout the season. Whether it be a manager approaching you after a rough outing, or a GM asking you to switch positions, this adds a different dynamic to the game mode we have all grown accustomed to over the years.
With this added addition comes flaws. The narrating can be stale at times, and doesn’t seem to add any real dynamic to the mode. Furthermore, I’m still uncertain if the responses you choose have any ramifications on the story or what’s next to come. For example, when approached about moving to second base, I was reluctant and let my opinion be known. Despite my hesitation, the manager insisted on the move, and for the next 10-plus games I started at second base. In the end, I enjoyed playing second almost more than the outfield, but that is neither here nor there. Although the cutscenes are visually appealing, I want more from this aspect.
Admittedly, it's been a couple years since I've played The Show so this is the first time I've used the slow-down-time-in-key-situations feature, but I think it's a nice addition to the game. Whether it be defensively or at the plate with a 3-2 count, it gives users a welcomed advantage. Deciding on when to use this special feature is the real test, and I've found myself botching it more times than not. Nonetheless, it's a great feature that I enjoy utilizing once per game.
Overall, the gameplay within this mode is everything I would expect from this series. In my opinion, there is no other sports gaming franchise that brings the type of authenticity like MLB The Show. Although it's early, I've had more fun this year playing The Show than I have any other sports game over the last several years. Yes, there are little things that can be tweaked here and there, but overall, Road to the Show continues to be my favorite mode in sports gaming.