It’s been an up and down year for sports games, but coming off a wild seven-game World Series, we ask the staff if MLB The Show 19 is sports game of the year.
Raychel Sanner: FACT. MLB The Show didn’t reinvent the wheel so much as continue to refine and perfect the wheel that’s been in constant incremental development for a decade. The game doesn’t have the same cultural following, and honestly that’s probably to a game’s benefit in a lot of ways as mistakes are only exacerbated with more attention. Moments were a fine addition, but I really think where the game and series might see long-term benefits comes from March to October. There’s an accelerated franchise experience other series could stand to copy if they want to. This year, it seems like every title has had its share of problems, but The Show continues to show why a slow but steady process results in the best quality.
Jeff Botkin: FACT. MLB The Show is the only sports title that delivers on the minute details of Major League Baseball. Although the game has not progressed as much in terms of presentation or commentary, the game is the most authentic recreation of a sport that you can find. Playing a game of MLB The Show feels like playing baseball. The physics and timing of every swing and the way the ball reacts are outstanding. Many players in the game have their unique pitching delivery or batting stance. And really, these are just the surface-level details of how deep the gameplay can get. The Show is the sports game of the year for me. Until titles like Madden and FIFA can re-create an identical feel of their sport, MLB The Show will continue to be the game all sports titles are measured against in my mind.
Elliott Jenkins: FACT, but with a caveat. This MLB season, I have played more MVP Baseball 2005 than MLB The Show 19. Tremendous strides have been made in the 14 years between these two titles, but it remains somewhat astounding to me that I still prefer MVP’s gameplay and pacing to The Show’s in 2019. Even as a perennial The Show purchaser, the more time I spend in MVP’s Owner Mode the more it makes me woefully nostalgic for a time when it felt like significant risks were being taken for new modes. I am similarly fearful of what the financially-motivated card-collecting modes and virtual currency impediments will do to the industry altogether. That being said, I am thrilled and excited to find out how SDS will continue to innovate The Show for 2020, and I maintain that it is this year’s best AAA sports title. I will still pick up The Show 2020 on launch day and likely find myself sinking time into Diamond Dynasty. Nevertheless, I do wonder on some level if it is the Sports Game of the Year on its own merits, or more so because of the other dreadful AAA releases.
TJ Henderson: FACT. I see the rumblings on the forums every so often by those who believe we think too highly of MLB The Show. As a Kansas Jayhawks alumni/fan, I heard something similar as KU continued to win Big 12 Championships — that Kansas was overrated. But more often than not, it’s less that they believe Kansas is secretly bad and more that they wish there was more competition, more parity. And that, I get. The world is more exciting with more variety, more greatness. The truth is simply that MLB The Show has put on a streak of consistency that other titles struggle to maintain. The Show is the only sports game during this console generation that has never made me retire from it before its next release date.
Is it because that studio is unburdened by having to develop multiple sports games? Possibly. Whatever the secret sauce is, they took a sport that is in my opinion one of the most difficult to translate into a fun gaming experience, and did it at a level other developers would love to emulate — and we as gamers would love to see. But nothing lasts forever. Kansas basketball lost the Big 12 regular-season title last season for the first time since 2004. And, quite frankly, the sport was better because of it.