One of the hardest things to accomplish as a developer of a yearly title is to make a game feel fresh and new to the community, and even more so with a sports title. Well, that is the burden that has been tasked to the developers over at Sony San Diego, the creators of MLB The Show. The biggest worry for me is that I literally play this title almost year-round, and so it’s even harder for the developers to shock me in a good way. Thankfully though, from the minute I took the field, I was amazed by all the newly included nuances that just dripped with baseball TLC. Obviously that is a bit of hyperbole, and a personal opinion that will not be shared by all, but for me, my initial impressions were beyond any hope that I selfishly carried inside.
Upon entering my first exhibition title, the initial surprise was just how much better the game looks overall. Now, I am playing on a PS4 Pro with a 4K Samsung TV and enabled HDR, so that definitely helps, but it goes beyond just graphical fidelity. The colors pop, the player movement is fluid, and the stadium detail is certainly improved.
While all of that is very exciting, upgraded graphics and colors will only hold for so long if the gameplay feels the same. That being said, I also immediately noticed the refined ball physics, the weight of the ball as it springs off the bat, and the new fielding cameras and cutscenes.
All of this combined had me wanting to keep playing exhibition games between different clubs, over and over. Now please, think about what I just said there.
I am someone who plays this title throughout the year, and yet the new inclusions had me wanting to play simple exhibition games with random teams, just so I could continue to embrace and enjoy all the new little details that the developers have put in place here.
While playing defense, although it has been tweaked and refined, I still noticed some of the same bothersome animations that for any veteran of the series will be noticeable almost instantaneously — ”Ole” anyone? The commentary, even with the addition of MLB Network’s Mark DeRosa, still feels a bit stale, and at times badly disjointed.
There were times where simple pop-ups just beyond the infield would be described as deep drives to center, or a squib hit just foul up the line would be addressed by Matt Vasgersian (play-by-play announcer), as a hard shot down the line that could be a two-bagger.
On top of the commentary and animation issues that still crop up, if you’re looking to play a single season by yourself or an online franchise with some of your friends, well you need to look elsewhere because you won’t be doing that in MLB The Show 18 as both have been removed.
There is no question that, as with any title, the more you play the more your impressions of the game will change. But for now, these are some of my early views of the newest baseball title from SDS.
We’ll be checking back in with more in-depth thoughts and deeper dives into the modes in the days to come.